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Now It's Spain and OOXML - More Standards Highjinks?
Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 01:19 AM EDT

It seems there may have been more games played by Microsoft in the OOXML saga, or at the very least some confusion spread, and this time our story comes from Spain, where the government of Andalusia has now sent an official letter of protest [PDF, Spanish] to the president of the technical committee deciding whether or not to accept OOXML as an ISO standard, denouncing what it called an attempt by Microsoft to manipulate the process by selectively quoting from a letter from the Andalusian government back in January as if it were an endorsement of OOXML as an ISO standard today. That January letter, Andalusia says, was not intended to indicate that it felt there should be an acceptance of OOXML by the technical committee.

Andalusia's story begins on the day before the technical committee was to meet in Spain to discuss whether or not to accept Microsoft's OOXML as an ISO standard. All the members of the committee received a letter from Microsoft. Attached were some letters, which Microsoft characterized as supporting a yes vote on OOXML. One of the letters was a letter [PDF, Spanish] from the government of Andalusia, which indeed spoke of the importance of open formats. It wasn't an endorsement of OOXML as a technical specification now or ever, it has now clearly announced, stating that it is profoundly disturbed by what has happened and writes its letter of protest to clarify where it stands.

Andalusia's letter expresses its unhappiness with what it views as an attempt to mislead the committee by distorting the meaning of its letter from January, which referenced phase CP 29500 of the OOXML process, a much earlier aspect, not the current phase of the work of the technical committee, phase DIS 29500, the part about whether to accept it or not, something that was not even certain to happen back in January. Andalusia never has stated that it supports a yes vote for OOXML by the technical committee. That part of the letter says this:

En ese sentido, mi carta manifestaba el apoyo al estándar abierto ISO/IEC 26300 en materia do formatos de documentos, y en ningún caso al estándar ISO DIS 295000.

Roughly translated, it says that the January letter was intended as support for open formats generally and specifically for ODF, not OOXML. It mentions OOXML in the context of the fast tracking request and discusses a willingness to be of service in that process and does express how important open formats and standards are, but it does not endorse OOXML technically or suggest the technical committee should vote yes. Back in January, that wasn't on the table yet. Its letter of protest expresses the hope that any confusion can be clarified so no one votes based on misinformation.

This story was so hard for me to believe, it took all day to get several volunteers to verify it by translating it for me from Spanish to English, so I could be reasonably sure I understood that happened. I'd like to thank DiriGato, Larry Vance, vruz, Martín Nigoul, kosmonaut, and many others who volunteered to help make sure I understood the Spanish documents, which you can read for yourself in this article if you read Spanish. All the links are there. If anyone sees any refinements needed, please let me know, so we can fine tune. It's our goal to be accurate, but translations are always nerve-wracking. If you wish to review, you can read about Portugal here and about Italy here.

Update: Another volunteer has now explained the contents of all the letters:

To understand the documents they should be read in chronological (by date) order. The first one is a letter dated January 2007 from the Andalusia Government CTO (the equivalent to Peter Quinn in MA) expressing interest for the standarization process and offering its support, advice and help to the technical committee, but which states very clearly that ODF/ISO26300 is the standard of choice for the Government of Andalusia.

The second one dated in February is just a note that reminds AENOR that the Ministry for Government Administration recomended that Micrososft submit their format specifications to an international standards body or either that Microsoft compromised itself to publicly document and make available these specifications under non-discriminatory terms (these terms seems to be much different from Microsoft's point of view and from the European Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes', and other government intitutions for example).

The third one is a letter from a manager of the department for geographical information of the Ministry of Public Infrastructures (Ministry of "Fomento") that I think was misleading to sign a letter that seems to be dictated by some Microsoft salesperson, since you can read the typical marketing nonsense on it. This letter was portrayed by Microsoft as proof of official backing of the Ministry of Fomento to its MSOOXML format.

The fourth letter is the formal protest of the CTO of the Government of Andalusia asking the technical committee for rectification and for an explanation of the misrepresentation.


  


Now It's Spain and OOXML - More Standards Highjinks? | 388 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here Please
Authored by: sproggit on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 01:29 AM EDT
so that we can fix them.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Now It's Spain and OOXML - More Standards Highjinks?
Authored by: TedSwart on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 01:31 AM EDT
It seems to me that Microsoft's reprehensible vote stuffing in Portugal and now
its attempt to mislead the Spanish Standards body speaks of increasing
desperation, on their part, to force through an ISO endorsement of OOXML. If
they do too much of this underhand wheeling and dealing they might end in
cooking their own goose. Let's hope so anyway.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: sproggit on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 01:32 AM EDT
Off Topic Threads here please - and don't forget to make links clickable by
saving in HMTL format and using

<a href="htttp://wwww.example.com">your ref</a>

to keep things nice and neat. Thanks!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks Comments Thread
Authored by: Weeble on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 01:49 AM EDT
There are some good ones to chat about. Hey, how about that article on more
big-name OEMs preparing to introduce Ubuntu PCs? Who do you think it's gonna be?
For myself, I doubt it'll be HP (they're #1 now and sitting high and pretty).
More likely it'll be one of the lesser-knowns who would love to endear
themselves to a community that's a growing part of the market. Acer, maybe? How
about the eMachines division of Gateway? Their thing has always been building
'em cheap, and an Ubuntu PC would give 'em the chance to do just that.

What do you think?

---
You Never Know What You're Going to Learn--or Learn About--on Groklaw!
(NOTE: Click the "Weeble" link for Copying Permissions and Contact Info.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Now we know why Bunuel
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 02:54 AM EDT

Now that's a renewed meaning for
"Un chien andalou".

[ Reply to This | # ]

How does Extremadura fare?
Authored by: Winter on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 02:54 AM EDT
The spanish province Extremadura has officially changed wholesale to FLOSS. So
they would be unable to use OOXML.

Anyone here who can tell us how this conversion is going? I cannot read Spanish
(which indeed is a shame), so I only get the little bits that difuse into the
non-Spanish speaking press.

Rob

---
Some say the sun rises in the east, some say it rises in the west; the truth
lies probably somewhere in between.

[ Reply to This | # ]

and it's Australia's turn on August 9
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 03:02 AM EDT
For those interested...

Standards Australia will host a Forum on the proposed Draft International
Standard ISO/IEC 29500, Information technology -
Office Open XML file formats standard.

This Forum is limited to 30 persons and seats will be reserved on a first
reserved basis - please reserve by email to:
<michael.langdon AT standards.org.au>.

The Forum will run from 10am-1pm. The Forum's main aim is to determine an
Australian national standards body consensus position on this Draft
International Standard and then lodge that position and vote with the
International Standards Organization (ISO).

Venue: Standards Australia Meeting room 1, Level 10, 20 Bridge Street, Sydney.
10am Thursday 9 August 2007

[From an email circulated to Information Policy staff in our (state Gov't)
department.]


FWIW: There's nothing listed on Standard Australia's Forum page
<http://www.standards.org.au/forum.asp> despite being an organiser of the
event.

I'll leave it to others to make comments about the method of selecting
attendees, but it's rather casual approach.

cheers,
Charles from Oz.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Translation of the letter
Authored by: Vox on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 03:02 AM EDT
Ok, here goes a translation of the letter, from my native Spanish to
English...let's hope it goes well :)

----- LETTER STARTS HERE --------

<header skipped>

Dear Sir.

I write to you because I've learned that it's been communicated to the members
of the CTN71 Committee of AENOR that the Junta de Andalucia had given its
support to the approval of the ISO DIS 29500 standard. On this subject I'd like
to manifest our deep illfeelings due to the distortion of the letter that I sent
to Mr. Gonzalo Sotorrio Gonzalez, Director of the Divison de Normalizacion de
AENOR on January 27th of 2007. On this subject I want to make of your knowledge
that the Junta de Andalucia has never manifested itself in favour of the ISO DIS
29500 standard, that there wasn't on that date on said letter, and in exact and
textual matter I quote, our written was along the line of "the bet of the
Junta de Andalucia for the adoption of open standards in matters of Information
Tecnology mates directly with the recommendations of the European Union picked
up by the Marco Europeo de Interoperabilidad, and it's firmly substained by the
ISO/IEC 26300 standard on document formats".

In the communication to the members of CTN71 there's a paragraph mentioned, out
of context, from a letter, signed by me as General Director of Innovation and
Public Administration of the Junta de Andalucia, regarding the study of the
convenience of the transaction of the ISO CP 29500 standard through fast track
and in which the Junta de Andalucia manifested its offering of help to the CTN71
Committee and its interest on the study of the deepest depth possible because of
its incidence on the area of open standards. In this sense, mi letter manifested
the support to the open standard ISO/IEC 26300 in the matter of document format,
and in no case to the ISO DIS 29500 standard.

As you know, the Junta de Andalucia has been pushing for many years with
absolute conviction for interoperability and open standards, and in this sense,
we have always pretended to manifest our offering of collaboration - from a very
relevant position on the use of the TIC in Spain - to the CTN71 Committee to try
to reach a greater clarity and promotion of open standards and the TIC in
general.

<page 2 starts here>
Therefore, we beseech you that you try to get this rectification on time and
form to the members of the CTN71 before they can take a decision based on a
wrong base, or at least, with uncertain information of what the position of the
Junta de Andalucia in relation to open standards is.

At the same time, I'd beseech you to inform us how has it been possible that
this kind of confusion has happened in a process of such size and importance, so
far as it puts the conviction of the Junta de Andalucia in regards to
interoperability and open standards in question.

<signature>

------ LETTER ENDS HERE ------

Mr. Rodriguez has a very baroque style of writing, at least it reads so to a
Mexican like me...so...the translation is a bit...baroque too. I hope the full
meaning of the letter comes through for whoever may want to read it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Now It's Spain and OOXML - More Standards Highjinks?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 08:02 AM EDT
Microsoft simply borrowed a page from the news media; reporters and editors are
known to use 'creative quoting' to pursue their agendas.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reading the Style, not the words
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:25 AM EDT
For a Spaniard, he's being extremely blunt and casual.

That probably indicates he's on good professional terms with the recipient, and this is a friendly reminder and a request to correct the misrepresentation.

When Spanish speakers go all formal on you, that means they are extremely angry or you have done something that deserves a whap in the face for your impertinence.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not just Spain; Italy too
Authored by: l0ne on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:41 AM EDT
So says <http://punto-informatico.it/p.aspx?i=2041653>. The Italian
standards organization that has voting power at ISO for the OOXML standard
discussion, UNINFO, has found that companies that are Microsoft partners have
been joining en masse in the last few weeks; so says Carlo Piana, one of the
voters, in his blog (voting members have suddenly surged from 5 to 83 just
before the OOXML vote: <http://www.piana.eu/cms/index.php?
option=com_content&task=view&id=52&Itemid=1>).

Luckily UNINFO could not reach quorum, so it voted to abstain, not to confirm.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bill Gates to be reported to Berkshire Hathaway Ethics Committee - Now It's Spain and OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:59 AM EDT
All,

I am connecting anonymously, but am an employee at a Berkshire
Hathaway umbrella company.

Berkshire Hathaway has an Ethics clause / contract impacting
all that are employees of Berkshire, those that Berkshire
does business with, and I'll assume board members.

As such, later today, once I track down the number, I'll be
reporting Bill Gates, a Berkshire board member, to the
Ehtics committee for Ethics violations that Microsoft is
entangled in, in Europe and at home.

If you think I am crazy for trying this, stop me now.

I probably won't try this until late this afternoon.

Enjoy.

anonymous

[ Reply to This | # ]

Another Tact - Use the MS Ethics Department Against MS Itself
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 01:07 PM EDT
BTW, from www.microsoft.com/about/legal/buscond/default.mspx

Also, www.microsoftintegrity.com

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


How to Use the Standards of Business Conduct
Microsoft's Standards of Business Conduct summarize the regulatory requirements
and business practices that guide our decision making and business activities.
The Standards contain basic information about our policies as well as
information about how to obtain guidance regarding a particular business
practice or compliance concern. It is essential that you thoroughly review this
publication and make a commitment to uphold its requirements.

The Standards of Business Conduct are not intended to cover every issue or
situation you may face as a Microsoft employee. Nor does it replace other more
detailed policies. You should use the Standards as a reference guide in addition
to Microsoft's policies, including the Employee Handbook, required for your
specific job. For example, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial
Officer (CFO), Corporate Controller, and other employees of the finance
organization must also comply with the Microsoft Finance Code of Professional
Conduct. Microsoft reserves the right in its sole discretion to modify or
eliminate any of the Standards' contents without prior notice. Individual
business units may also adopt standards of professional conduct for their areas.
It is your responsibility to be fully aware of these Standards and follow them.

If you need details on a specific policy, you may contact the compliance team at
buscond@microsoft.com. If you need guidance regarding a business practice or
compliance issue or wish to report a possible violation, talk to your immediate
supervisor, manager, another member of management, your Human Resources
Generalist, or your Law and Corporate Affairs contact.

You may also call the Business Conduct Line at (877) 320-MSFT (6738). If you are
calling from outside the United States, you may make a collect call to the
Business Conduct Line by accessing an international operator and asking to place
a collect call to (704) 540-0139. The Business Conduct Line is a dedicated,
toll-free phone line that is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365
days a year. It is operated by an external third-party vendor that has trained
professionals to take your calls, in confidence, and report your concerns to the
Microsoft Director of Compliance for appropriate action. Your phone calls to the
Business Conduct Line may be made anonymously.

If you are a Microsoft employee or vendor without access to our corporate
intranet and wish to send a confidential e-mail to the Director of Compliance,
you may do so by e-mailing the Business Conduct and Compliance alias
(buscond@microsoft.com). A confidential e-mail may be delivered via the Internet
by submitting a report via the Microsoft Integrity Web site. These e-mails will
be received by a third-party vendor, who will remove your contact information
prior to forwarding a summary of the e-mail to the Office of Legal Compliance.

You may also send a letter to the Director of Compliance at Microsoft
Corporation, Law and Corporate Affairs, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052 or
send a confidential fax to (425) 705-2985. Letters and faxes sent to the
Director of Compliance may be submitted anonymously if you choose to do so.

If you have a concern regarding a questionable accounting or auditing matter and
wish to submit the concern confidentially or anonymously, you may do so by
submitting a report via the Microsoft Integrity Web site, calling the Business
Conduct Line, or sending a letter or fax to the Director of Compliance as
outlined above.

Microsoft will handle all inquiries discreetly and make every effort to
maintain, within the limits allowed by the law, the confidentiality of anyone
requesting guidance or reporting a possible violation.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


BTW, from www.microsoft.com/about/legal/buscond/default.mspx

Also, www.microsoftintegrity.com

[ Reply to This | # ]

29 January letter
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 03:29 PM EDT
Rather rushed translation but it'll do:
--------

January 29, 2007

Dear Sir,

Recently the International Standards Group of Ecma submitted a standard for
ISO's approval via a "fast-track" process; the standard in question is
"Ecma 376 Office Open XML"

In my responsibility as Director General of Innovation and Public Administration
of the <i>Junta</i> of Andalucia, and being qualified in matters of
the information-technology policy of this Autonomous Administration, I must
communicate to you our major interest in the process of creation/refinement of
standards for matters as relevant as is the exchange of electronic documents.

Formats for document exchange are a pillar of the development of the
Information Society, and, as a relevant part of such, of the so-called
Intelligent Administration; for this reason the Junta of Andalucia
will always demonstrate its support for the establishment of standards in this
field, and for which I desire that AENOR, in its role as member of ISO/IEC JTC1,
transmit to said committee our support in this area.

The support of the Junta of Andalucia for the adoption of open standards in
information technology directly aligns with the recommendations of the European
Union recorded in the "European Interoperability Mark" and
is at this time firmly sustained by ISO/IEC standard 26300 for document formats;
I have confidence that the result of the transmission that ISO initiates will
enrich and fortify the expectations for extension of open standards and
interoperability.

Experience recently aquired during work on a "mark of Interoperability for
Information Systems of the Junta of Andalucia", led by the
<i>Direccion General</i> [executive branch?], could prove to be
useful in this field. For this reason, together with my team, I remain at your
disposal and that of the aforementioned committee for any collaboration or aid
which you might consider opportune in matters related to the present letter.

Attentively,
The Director General,
Jose Maria Rodriguez Sanchez

[ Reply to This | # ]

Andalusia has long history with FOSS
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 04:39 PM EDT
Andalusia and the neighboring region of Extremadura were aware of and supporting to FOSS many years ago. Here is something from Linux Today in 2003. (Unfortunately the story it linked to seems to have gone.) It contains a link to a 2002 story about Extremadura.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's Andalucia instead of Andalusia
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 09:07 PM EDT
There is a typo in the text. Our region is called Andalucía, not Andalusia.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Original translations?
Authored by: darkonc on Wednesday, July 25 2007 @ 01:24 AM EDT
I don't understand spanish, so the translations of the original documents (as imperfect as they may be) would be very useful to me -- both in understanding more of the nuances of what happened here, and in explaining it to others.

Yes, I could use BabelFish, or Google, but I expect that a human translation will be much more satisfying.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

How does Microsoft get it's supporters to join JCT board?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 25 2007 @ 10:33 AM EDT
Just wondering how Microsoft gets it's cronies to join the JCT board. Does
Microsoft offer financial or other incentives to do so? If Microsoft is doing
this, it should be reported to ISO.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Technological neutrality
Authored by: ile on Thursday, July 26 2007 @ 03:29 AM EDT
It should be mentioned that an Act came into force in
Spain the 12 June, about the electronic access of citizens
to public services, in which it is clearly stated that
Public Administrations (this includes Universities, say,
not just the ministries or the autonomous regions) must
use open standards. There is actually a definition of open
standard.

On the flip side, "widely used" formats should be accepted
if a citizen presents a document in this form.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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