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Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 07:41 PM EST

Do you remember when we learned about the ECMA process, how Microsoft was sending its XML there, and how ECMA has a fast track to the ISO? I wonder if maybe Microsoft is worried it's still not fast enough to beat ODF, because the company has just joined the group in the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) that decides if ODF is ready to move forward in the ISO process. Here they are on the list, bold as brass, on the INCITS V1 list, the group that has the job of reconciling comments ISO voters make with the work OASIS is doing and deciding whether resolution has been reached. There sits Microsoft, waiting, like a spider.

I know. They just want to help out.

I hope I'm not giving them ideas, but all they would have to do to slow ODF down, I'm thinking, is ensure lots of discussion, review, documentation, exploration, etc. to arrange that ISO can't ratify ODF until ECMA is ready to submit their competing XML.

That can't be the plan, I'm sure. That would be mean and anticompetitive.

It's rare that there would be no comments needing resolution. And if there is a comment, it has to be sent around to everyone, and then there has to be a response, and then consensus has to be reached. You get the picture. Meanwhile, Microsoft's XML is whizzing through ECMA's special fast track process. You'll remember their description [PDF] on page 20 of the ECMA value:

"Offers industry a 'fast track', to global standards bodies, through which standards are made available on time....

Offers a path which will minimise risk of changes to input specs."

I am imagining ODF plodding along, with Microsoft asking questions, fine combing through the comments, "did you mean this or that?", getting bogged down in minutia until, lo and behold, either Microsoft's XML makes it as an ISO standard first, or they arrive neck and neck.

Well, just imagining, and I could be completely wrong, I suppose. We can just wait and watch. I would be delighted to be wrong. But since Microsoft has told us it has no intention of supporting ODF, and it has a competing standard it would like the world, and Massachusetts most particularly, to choose instead, it does seem a trifle odd that they suddenly, at the 11th hour, hop on the very committee that decides ODF's fate. By the way, ANSI has a page providing some examples showing why competing standards are not a good idea.

Here's the INCITS FAQ that explains how you get to be a member: "All directly and materially affected parties shall have the opportunity for fair and equitable participation in INCITS." Here's how they answer the question, What is INCITS?

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) is the forum of choice for information technology developers, producers and users for the creation and maintenance of formal de jure IT standards. INCITS is accredited by, and operates under rules approved by, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These rules are designed to ensure that voluntary standards are developed by the consensus of directly and materially affected interests.

They have a page on AntiTrust Guidelines, which all members must follow. And here's a chart that explains the whole interaction of INCITS, consortia, and standards bodies. The article, by Andy Updegrove, says that INCITS is kind of like a bridge between consortia, like OASIS, and standards bodies like ISO:

Faced with competition from the proliferation of consortia, some SDOs -- like INCITS -- have adapted by providing a link between consortium-originated standards and the international de jure bodies, such as ISO/IEC....Today, besides acting as an SDO in its own right (it has been accredited by ANSI since its inception), it plays an important role in both further developing consortium-originated standards, as well as introducing those standards into acceptance by ISO/IEC....

INCITS entered 2003 with a stronger link to ISO/IEC, and acquired responsibility for the Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which had formerly been a separate organization with SDOs, vendors and users as members. Other ANSI-accredited standards organizations integral to the "new" INCITS in its JTC1 TAG role are the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA - itself an alliance of six major standards bodies), and the Uniform Code Council (UCC). The collective standards output of this grouping -- which includes EIA's Home Electronic Systems (HES) HomeGate, IEEE's 802.11 family of wireless standards, and the UCC's barcode-related standards -- accounts for nearly all of the SDO-based IT standardization work in the world. The only international IT standards that top INCITS-related standards in sales are the ISO 9000 series of quality standards.

As a result, INCITS finds itself in the middle of a great deal of standards setting activity involving diverse organizations.

Yes, and that is where ODF is right now. With Microsoft, which has not participated in the ODF process at all, by its own choice, now joining the very group that will decide how rapidly ODF becomes an ISO standard, or even, I suppose, if it ever does. Gulp.

UPDATE: Andy Updegrove has the following additional information (as well as a clear and more detailed explanation of the standards process):

It will be interesting to see how many comments were made during the ISO balloting, as well as how expeditiously they are reconciled. If you'd like to keep track of that process, here are some further details, as kindly provided by Patrick Durusau, the Chairman of V1 and the Project Editor for the OpenDocument Format submission.

Martin Bryan of the UK delegation is the Chair of the ballot resolution process. Patrick Durusau will be responsible for producing the draft (with assistance from the SC 34 Secretariat) that emerges from the ballot resolution process, and he is also the Errata editor in the OASIS OpenDocument Format TC (the errata process is a committee reconciliation of any comments received from the ISO National Bodies prior to the actual ballot resolution meeting).


Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1 | 416 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 07:53 PM EST
This IS indeed, terrifying!

I just do not understand how MSFT gets away with things like this, time and time
again. SO obviously anti-competitive. So nasty, so mean. They cost so many
businesses money, they cost competing businesses their lives. They hold back and
stile innovation at every turn, and steal what they cannot outright buy.

OR they pull things like this.

It's disgusting, and it truly fumes me that the world seems powerless to stop

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Woad_Warrior on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 07:54 PM EST
So PJ can find'em.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Woad_Warrior on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 07:55 PM EST
Please make your links clickable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 08:10 PM EST
It's not as bad as it sounds. The way ISO process works, you need several
members acting in sync to scuttle a standard. You can have disagreeing members
and still get your standrad through.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Commitment to ODF
Authored by: AllParadox on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 08:27 PM EST
There must be, at the very least, a requirement that a member be committed to
the goals. It may be implied, but it has to be there.

Microsoft has publicly stated that it is opposed to ODF, and that it is
supporting a competitor.

Who is in charge of booting bozos off these boards?

And what is their address, so that I can send them a registered letter formally
notifying them?

And finally, has anybody seen the U.S. Department of Justice around, lately?
There is this old case against Microsoft that they are supposed to be
supervising, and they do not seem to be around. If they were, Microsoft would
not be pulling these stunts.

PJ deletes insult posts, not differences of opinion.

AllParadox; retired lawyer and chief Groklaw iconoclast. No legal opinions,
just my opinion.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Could backfire on MS
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 08:27 PM EST
When the ODF standard does go through to ISO (despite any expected MS
interference) wouldn't MS's participation tend to increase the stature of ODF,
now that it's been analyzed, discussed, and modified based on a diverse group of
users and developers INCLUDING MICROSOFT? That doesn't mean ODF has a MS
"stamp of approval" but it does cut short a big potential argument
that the ODF standard was developed without any consultation with MS at all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Highly Offensive
Authored by: fmckee on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 08:41 PM EST
Two simple words I know, but the other words I used could not be posted here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A mistake
Authored by: bbaston on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 08:42 PM EST
The International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) admitted who? Microsoft? No way.

From the INCITS antitrust guidelines:

"The harsh criminal penalties in the antitrust laws, for individuals as well as organizations, the high costs of defending antitrust suits, the diversion of resources from our important missions, and the risk of liability together mandate an understanding of, and respect for, the antitrust laws by INCITS and its members."
By its history of legal convictions, not to mention its active conflict with the EU, Microsoft Corporation can be considered as inherently able to grok monopoly misbehavior, and by implication, antitrust misbehavior, and therefore can be expected to taint those with whom it "works".

Since Microsoft has demonstrated and is actively continuing to demonstrate its lack of respect for the business laws limiting monopoly, it seems to me that INCITS is taking on quite a liability, wouldn't you say?

Ben, Groklawian in training
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold
Have you donated to Groklaw this month?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Federal Trade Commission probably better for this that DOJ
Authored by: skidrash on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 09:14 PM EST
FTC has been prosecuting this type of activity (abuse of standards-setting
process) for some time.

2 names that come to mind are Rambus and a California company (I forgot the
name) that pushed some cities toward a technology that it owned patents to
(without disclosing the fact).

[ Reply to This | # ]

More standards could do with hardening beforehand
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 09:22 PM EST
Having worked at a company that participated in MPEG, I may have a different
take on this than most. My feeling is that having a committee full of yes-men
makes a very weak standards process. Part of which is to ensure that minutia
are fully explored and that grey areas are minimized.

Sure this takes longer, but it's part of what makes a standard tight like
mpeg-2, vs fairly loose standards such as the ELF ABI and its various processor

In the case of ODF, we want it as tight as possible because the purpose is
closer to MPEG (where the end user equipment is essentially unknown), rather
than ELF (where the compiler really knows everything about the user).

Standards bodies could use scrutiny when the standard is about to be ratified
and some details are still getting worked out. These are sometimes overlooked,
leading to somewhat incompatible products based on the same standard. Interop
meets by trade groups help, but to fix the real problem, the standard needs to
nail everything down.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 10:41 PM EST
does everything they do have to be bad?

what if, and I'm speculating here, they want a piece of odf in case they decide
to support it later? There's no way they'd adopt it if they had no say.
there must be some people working for them who would be useful to the process.
Like google they employ the best people they can.

Being a huge corporation it is entirely possible that some members are
interested, but the official line cannot be altered yet.
Besides, deliberate obstruction could get them kicked off, could it not? It's
not like they own the process or have a god given right to stay onboard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Noone Trusts Microsoft
Authored by: kawabago on Tuesday, March 21 2006 @ 11:18 PM EST
Everything they do will be examined to death. Any anti-competitive move they
make will be immediately reported everywhere.

When everyone hates you, it doesn't matter what you do, you have already

[ Reply to This | # ]

Too Early to Condemn MS for This
Authored by: DrHow on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 01:04 AM EST
I think the MS folks realize that, whether they like it or not, they will
probably have to support ODF eventually. They are an interested party. It
would be foolish of them not to go ahead and get involved now. Indeed, they
should have continued their original participation; but I guess they were hoping
they could scuttle it completely.

It will be interesting to see if their renewed participation is constructive or
divisive. I have participated in standards-making processes myself; and a
company can benefit from participation even when they take no active role in
steering the development of the standard. Given MS's history with this
standard, I think they would be well-advised to take more of an observer stance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 02:22 AM EST
conversely, it may add presure on microsoft to add odf suport to office (just
lookign realy hard for the silver lining)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 03:13 AM EST
Well, ODF is at the 40.20 stage in the ISO organisation. It got to that stage
last October, and the stage takes five months. In the next few weeks we'll know
if it's going to progress.

If ODF doesn't progress at this point, it will be absolutely nothing to do with
Microsoft's involvement. There are other reasons the ODF submission to ISO was

[ Reply to This | # ]

And the Good news is: (anti-fud)
Authored by: darkonc on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 03:44 AM EST
Microsoft is now participating directly in the ODF process. It's pretty hard, now, for them to dissasociate from it. It's now their standard.

Yes, they can choose not to use a standard that they've helped to standardize, but we can make it pretty hard on them to do so. They now have neither legal nor moral impediments to implementing ODF.

The only real impediment that they have is business reasons -- and those business reasons amount to anti-competitive motives.

Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 04:05 AM EST
Nothing to worry about this move. The market will decide what best suite their
need. It remind me of the TCP/IP and OSI standard batle.

More concern should be addressed to ms effort to eliminate the availability of
RAD (rapid application development) tool in linux, ie: kylix, etc, slowing the
widespread of application. The rule is : no RAD = fewer application.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OpenDocument is already in ISO Fast Track
Authored by: yscydion on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 05:31 AM EST

Don't worry about ECMA being a route into ISO's Fast Track process. OASIS is also a route into ISO's Fast Track process, and OpenDocument entered ISO by that route some time ago.

As an anonymous poster pointed out, OpenDocument is at ISO's 40.20 stage DIS ballot initiated: 5 months and the stage date is 2005-10-31 so balloting for approval as a Draft International Standard is nearly over.

If ANSI is going to vote 'no' at this stage, reasons are expected, and they have to be major objections, not quibbling over detail. If anyone wants to use INCITS to influence ANSI's vote, they have left it a bit late.

I don't know how quickly ISO publishes the results of DIS ballots, but it will not be long now.

If ECMA does put together something to submit to the ISO Fast Track, it will enter at stage 40 Enquiry so there will then be the five month DIS ballot which OpenDocument has nearly completed. Even if OpenDocument fails to pass this time, it will probably be into another round of DIS ballot before the ECMA contribution arrives.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition !!"
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 06:19 AM EST
Thanks to the internet such moves by Microsoft can be given wider coverage than
would otherwise have been. The eyes of the (IT) world are upon them

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 06:25 AM EST
Whatever Microsoft's evil intentions, I wonder if this can be played in the
media as proof of Microsoft joining the ODF format camp, and an indication of
how truely open and vendor neutral the ODF standard really is.

There really is no reason now for Microsoft to complain it will be excluded if
ODF is chosen, so end users should go ahead and select ODF as the true vendor
neutral universal standard.

The problems with Microsoft's proprietary "Open XML" remain:

It is prporietary (the standard is under the sole control of Microsoft and only
Microsoft - which will mean that revisions will be undertaken for the sole
purpose of competing vendor lock-out, customer lock-in and forced customer

It is patent encumbered and it's patent covenant does not include for
modifications or future revisions to the standard. This means any functionality
left out of the documentation cannot legally be implemented by other vendors,
and come the Office 13 version of the standard, everyone but Microsoft will be
completely locked out for good.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Updegrove blog entry on this - READ IT
Authored by: yscydion on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 07:38 AM EST

Andy Updegrove has just written a blog entry that, as usual, has a lot of good information. It explains just where the V1 committee fits into the picture.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Kilz on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 08:30 AM EST
I wonder if they are going to try and obstruct, or corrupt. It would be worse if
they are there to try and add things they can later use to extend and lockout.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 08:50 AM EST
My guess it that this is related to the delay in vista.
Delay ODF so that M$ products will be there instead.

M$ only does what is good for M$, period. Pure and simple.
If you haven't figured that out yet, well ....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 09:35 AM EST
I have a question, somewhat un-related. Wasn't Microsoft forced to remove
Internet Expoder from its' operating system?

Has anyone tried to go to and tried to patch XP with Firefox?
Can't be done. So this means that microsoft has not unbundled Internet Exploder
from its' operating system. You can only patch using Internet Exploder.

Am i missing something here?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The answer is FUD.
Authored by: lightsail on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 11:11 AM EST
Microsoft will likely use this opportunity to increase FUD about ODF. They will
question every decision and statement, then use these "unanswered"
questions as FUD.

The minor details left to be finalized later will be used to demonstrate that
the standard is not complete.

Microsoft never has all it's eggs in one basket, nor do they let very many
opportunities go by without exploiting them.

It is likely that this is a small part of Microsoft's strategy to maintain it's
domination of the Office Application Suite market.

Open source is in the public interest!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Remember Microsoft's "contribution" to the OpenGL standard?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 12:08 PM EST
> I hope I'm not giving them ideas, but all they would have to do to slow ODF

Microsoft did similar things through their activity on the OpenGL standards
committee, thus allowing Microsoft's DirectX to catch up, and gain more industry

[ Reply to This | # ]

Double double cheese cheese burger burger please please
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 01:29 PM EST
I am not really that hungry for Microsoft news picks :)

Yes, I'd like fries with that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 03:00 PM EST
If Microsoft does turn out to have joined the committee to
delay the adoption of ODF, what's to stop IBM, Sun, etc.
joining the ISO committee that will examine Microsoft's
XML format and do the same there? Given that Microsoft's
format has not been through the same sort of rigorous
reviewing process that ODF has, there would surely be more
scope for it to be delayed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Should Committee Members Be Worried?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 03:05 PM EST

I wonder if there will be some investigation into committee members personal and
employment matters: travel accounts, petty cash reimbursement, etc.

Those in Massachusetts got a taste already.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think we should be wary of throwing too many rocks at M$ based only on preconceptions ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 04:00 PM EST
... given the fair-mindedness that underpins all PJ's articles and comments on

I tend to treat anything M$ says or does in the same way as anything Tony Blair
or George Bush says. Assumed false without independent verification!

But that doesn't mean that everything they do is actually false, mean, sneaky,
etc etc. Just most of it.

There are alternative interpretations to M$ being on this board. One of the more
obvious is that they can't be sure that may not eventually have to back down and
support ODF.

Being part of this process would give them an early heads-up that they're going
to lose in the long run and find a way to give in gracefully.

Do I personally think that's likely? No.

But this is a legal-oriented board - we shouldn't assume guilt just because
we're (rightly) suspicious of their motives.

[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ has a point, to a point
Authored by: PeteS on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 04:17 PM EST
As someone who has sat on ISO committees (as has Dr. Salus) I really want to try
and inject a little reality.

First, PJ has a point. I have been on non-international standards committees
where Microsoft slowed down the process - I have been on others where Sun (for
instance) slowed down the process.

So the reason for Microsoft joining is fairly clear, and we should be vigilant.

Now some reality.

Regardless of what you think of Microsoft, ODF affects them (and I am not
defending them, as PJ well knows) and as such has the right to ask to join V1.
The barrier to entry to any committee is fairly low, so Microsoft is now part of
the committee.

Keep in mind that any 'objections' Microsoft may have must have documentary
backing. Let's take a hypothetical issue (one that Microsoft itself has not
really addressed)

M$: ODF does not properly allow for disabled access
Answer: In what way does this mean the standard should not go forward?
M$: It must allow for these issues
Answer: M$ itself has not allowed for these issues. Why should it not be
something in V1.1 (or V2 etc) of the standard?
M$ (Will find something else to say)

This will indeed slow down ODF, but keep in mind that M$ itself has applied to
have it's XML ratified by the same ISO, with the same delegates, the same
questions will come back onto M$ itself.

The big issue is M$ will 'borrow' solutions from the ODF questions to 'solve'
it's accessibility issues and try to leapfrog ODF.

Knowing the people who populate the committees, I am fairly sure they will not
allow that to happen.

The eyes of Groklaw and it's peripheral effect will surely help.


Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity

[ Reply to This | # ]

resource page, MS crimes and misdemeanors
Authored by: qu1j0t3 on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 04:27 PM EST
For those who haven't seen it:

I have a semicolon and I'm not afraid to use it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Help! Please explain
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 05:00 PM EST
I am feeling MicroFUDded this evening.

1) Microsoft is a member of INCITS and is now is joining the INCITS/V1 technical
advisory group that decides what ANSI will submit to the relevant ISO
committees. The group chairman, Patrick Durusau, is also one of the founders of
the OpenDocument Foundation

2) ODF has already been submitted to the relevant ISO committee (JTC 1/SC 34)
and is at Enquiry stage 40.20 and the 6-month JTC1 ballot is due 2006-05-01.
Patrick Durusau hopes it will be an ISO standard 'soon'. This is a 700-page
specification for an XML vocabulary for office documents.

3) Microsoft have submitted Office Open XML Document Interchange Specification
Base Document to Ecma TC45, it was published in December 2005 after a vote where
only IBM opposed it and HP abstained (this counts as a vote against). This
document is 1901 pages long and contains the expression "ActiveX" 69
times and "wmf" 6 times.

Will someone please let me know if I have got these basic facts correct?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft Shows Up Where You Least Expect It - Joins INCITS V1
Authored by: enigma_foundry on Wednesday, March 22 2006 @ 11:41 PM EST
Let me explain it to everyone very simply:


We will have to fight to maintain our freedom against the
pigopolist Microsoft!


Ask the right questions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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