decoration decoration

When you want to know more...
For layout only
Site Map
About Groklaw
Legal Research
ApplevSamsung p.2
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Gordon v MS
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
MS Litigations
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
OOXML Appeals
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v Novell
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Unix Books


Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

You won't find me on Facebook


Donate Paypal

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.

What's New

No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

What Happened in Germany
Friday, August 24 2007 @ 01:31 PM EDT

Heise is reporting now that there is an uproar over how the OOXML vote was handled in Germany. That happened in Switzerland too, where two formal objections have been filed. Portugal was a bit of a mess too, from reports we've heard. Now the same kinds of complaints are being heard from Germany.

It looks like Germany is the new Portugal, actually. You do remember how in Portugal IBM and Sun were not allowed in the room because it was allegedly "too small" despite having empty chairs? Well, in Germany, Google and Deutsche Telekom were allowed in the room but were not allowed to vote, heise says. Something about allegedly signing up too late and how they might not know enough about the issues therefore. This is turning into a not-so-funny joke.

You know what I don't understand? Why doesn't Microsoft get its format approved by just fixing it? Just as a start. Ideal would be to put into ODF whatever Microsoft thinks ODF needs and there we are, one standard the whole world can use freely. Then all its partners, working so hard with procedures in the ISO matter, could put their energies instead into making money with Microsoft, without forcing the world to suffer having to cope with two standards, neither of which works well with the other's documents. What are they all thinking?

Not about us, the public, I don't think, the very ones doomed to deal with the flotsam and jetsom of two standards if the Microsoft steamroller prevails. So your mom will send you a document you can't quite read. Worse, everything you send her she won't be able to even figure out how to open on her computer. And so you'll be doing tech support for all your Windows-using relatives for the rest of your natural born days. Are we on probation or in purgatory or something, being tested and refined? I know. There isn't one, but it feels like I'm stuck in Microsoft purgatory.

Anyway, the Fraunhofer Institute, where the chairman of the DIN subcommittee, a Mr. Schürmann, works released a statement yesterday, which Michael Schinagle translates for us:

"The beginning standardization procedure of Office Open XML as an ISO standard will lead to a technological development of both standards – Office Open XML and ODF 1.0. The constructive comments that have been made alongside the DIN approval from leading experts guide the way in direction of interoperability" says the head of the department e-Government at Fraunhofer FOKUS and head of the DIN work group `translation of document formats´. "We at Fraunhofer FOKUS e-government-lab will support the procedure effectively and accompany our lab-partner Microsoft as a member of ECMA International with our know-how in implementing our recommendations.”

I would say that's clear. Except for the first sentence, which makes no sense. Microsoft isn't pushing its OOXML to lead to technological devlopment of ODF. I believe it would like to make it irrelevant. At best. Otherwise, it'd just extend ODF to do whatever it thinks it needs to do. But here's my question: how does Microsoft get its own partners to head all these committees? Why even bother to vote? If the game is rigged, why not just say, "It's a de facto standard. You have no choice. We're Microsoft. We don't care. We don't have to."

Now look at how my computer translates this paragraph from the heise article, right after it has detailed how pro-Microsoft entities were added to the panel:

During the actual tuning still the German Telekom and Google wanted to take part, that are to be spoken not well on the standardisation efforts of the Redmonder. Lobbyists of both companies were allowed however only as if non-be correct-entitle guests in the session to participate and their doubts forward carry. The log-on of the two enterprises took place too at short notice, so that their technical inclusion no more could have been ensured, justifies to Schuermann the exclusion of the right to vote and DIN refers to appropriate regulations with.

If that explanation makes sense to you, you might just be a Microsoft lab-partner. They asked to join too late. Ah! You see? It takes me back to Portugal's "the room is too small" decision to exclude IBM and Sun. Any old rule will do. By the way, they both voted no in Germany, where they signed up in time, as did the Foreign Office and the Ministry of the Interior, with comments.

Here's the paragraph that has me really wondering, first in German:

Schürmann selbst votierte für "Ja mit Kommentar", um keinen Lenkungsausschuss mehr einberufen zu müssen und das Verfahren nicht zu verzögern.

I am showing the German to be extra careful. And I asked Michael Schinagl to please translate that, as I didn't want to rely on a computer. He says a literal translation would be:

Schürmann himself voted for "Yes with comment", not to have to call for a steering committee and to avoid delay of the procedure.

His more natural translation is:

Mr. Schürmann voted to approve “with comments”, in order not to have to call up to the steering committee and avoid further delay.

So there is a method to this "approve with comments" madness, I gather.

And in case you are curious, even if the DIN committee was not, here's Google's position [PDF]:


Google's Position on OOXML as a Proposed ISO Standard


Google is concerned about the potential adoption of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) format as an ISO standard. Google supports open standards and the Open Document Format (ODF), an existing ISO standard that has been a driver for innovation. We do not think it is beneficial to introduce an alternative standard when the Open Document Format already meets the common definitions of an open standard, has received ISO approval and is in wide use around the world. Google's concerns about OOXML include, but are not limited to: • The limitations on the openness of OOXML format; • The lack of proper review as compared to other ISO standards; • The continued use of binary code tied to platform-specific features; and • Unclear licensing terms for third-party implementers. The following is a Q&A to help clarify Google's position on the ISO standardization of OOXML.

Aren't multiple document standards good?

We have PDF and HTML, so why not ODF and OOXML? Multiple standards are good, but only if they are designed to address different problems. HTML is a very simple mark-up language designed for rendering within browsers, while PDF is a display-only format designed for high-fidelity print output. ODF and OOXML are both designed as a format for editable documents. As such they both address the same problem and almost completely overlap. The current state of file formats for editable documents makes life very difficult for consumers and vendors of office productivity software, and is a looming disaster for long-term document storage. Having two mutually incompatible formats for editable documents will allow the current noninteroperable state of affairs to continue.

Microsoft has been arguing the OOXML is a good thing as it gives vendors and customers choice. Multiple incompatible standards are a bad thing for customer choice, as purchasers of Betamax video recorders discovered to their cost. Multiple implementations of a single standard are good for both the industry and for customers.

If Microsoft wishes to create a document format that is better able to address the problems of the many editable legacy documents created in their older proprietary formats Google welcomes them to help extend the existing ODF ISO standard, in order to add the capabilities they require. Allowing OOXML to become a parallel ISO standard will propagate the current legacy situation into what is supposed to be a solution to the problems of long-term document storage.

OOXML is a perfectly good ISO standard. Isn't this just complaining by other vendors?

In developing standards, as in other engineering processes, it is a bad idea to reinvent the wheel. The OOXML standard document is 6546 pages long. The ODF standard, which achieves the same goal, is only 867 pages. The reason for this is that ODF references other existing ISO standards for such things as date specifications, math formula markup and many other needs of an office document format standard. OOXML invents its own versions of these existing standards, which is unnecessary and complicates the final standard.

If ISO were to give OOXML with its 6546 pages the same level of review that other standards have seen, it would take 18 years (6576 days for 6546 pages) to achieve comparable levels of review to the existing ODF standard (871 days for 867 pages) which achieves the same purpose and is thus a good comparison.

Considering that OOXML has only received about 5.5% of the review that comparable standards have undergone, reports about inconsistencies, contradictions and missing information are hardly surprising.

Isn't this standard needed to support the millions of existing Microsoft Office documents?

OOXML is a brand new format, different from the existing .DOC, .XLS and .PPT formats that are widely used by Microsoft Office. In order to move to an XML-based format these documents will have to be translated anyway. There is no wide use of OOXML format documents on the Web. Counting the number of documents found by doing Web searches for different document types the older Microsoft Office formats dominate, but the second most widely used format is the existing ISO standard ODF. As translation is needed anyway it would make more sense to convert to ODF, the existing ISO standard for editable document types.

In addition, if OOXML were necessary to faithfully convert these legacy documents to an XML format, it would have to contain the complete specification of these older document formats. Without this OOXML would be incomplete in its descriptions for an ISO standard. No specifications for older document formats exist in the OOXML descriptions, and so any argument that OOXML is needed for their accurate translation is false. Such legacy documents may just as easily be translated to ODF (as can be seen in the way some existing ODF implementations handle the import of the legacy Microsoft Office file formats).

Doesn't OOXML already have wide industry adoption?

Many companies have announced they will support OOXML, and several have announced translators for the new formats. This is only to be expected, as Microsoft is a major vendor in the office automation space. Wide industry support doesn't necessarily make a good ISO standard, although it definitely helps. What matters more for a good interoperable standard is multiple implementations. On this score ODF is very well served, with around twelve different implementations of software that can read and write ODF files (from wikipedia). Most of the OOXML implementations are from partners of Microsoft who have contractual agreements to implement OOXML software.

Multiple independent implementations help a standard mature quicker and become more useful to its users. It fosters a range of software choices under different licensing models that allow products to be created and chosen whilst still faithfully adhering to the ISO standard.

Isn't OOXML safe to implement by anyone?

NB. This section is not legal advice from Google. For a full analysis of the OOXML licensing conditions, please consult a lawyer.

Microsoft has offered an Open Specification Promise covering OOXML which they claim would cover third party implementations of the standard. See There is considerable legal uncertainty around the scope of this promise, which appears only to cover the exact version of the specification currently published, but not any future revisions or enhancements. The legal uncertainty surrounding the scope of this license grant weighs heavily against the propriety of ISO acceptance of the OOXML standard. The existing ODF ISO standard is covered by Sun's "OpenDocument Patent Statement," which does not suffer from these issues. See committees/office/ipr.php.


What Happened in Germany | 230 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off-topic here, please
Authored by: overshoot on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 01:46 PM EDT
There are some nice instructions in red for prettyprinting and making clicky

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: erehwon on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 01:57 PM EDT
Point out correction in title.

Eez beeg trahble for Moose and Skvirrel! (Boris)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspick topics
Authored by: erehwon on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 01:58 PM EDT
Put the subject of the News pick inthe title as a reference

Eez beeg trahble for Moose and Skvirrel! (Boris)

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened in Germany
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:02 PM EDT
This is starting to remind me of the book Cradle of Saturn. Where by midway
through the book it turns out the protagonists aren't crazy, there really is a
conspiracy/network of deranged power hungry people in charge and discrediting

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened in Germany
Authored by: Nick_UK on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:08 PM EDT
As said on a news pick article here, of which I now cannot

If MS are so talented, and they believe we need TWO ISO
standards, why not just come up with a great technical and
utterly superior XML that will fly by the ISO process and
get YES votes all the way through, instead of employing
all sorts of unethical, unmoral, and perhaps illegal
tactics to get ooxml passed?

I think that answers the question of their motive.


[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened in Germany. Portugal and elswhere
Authored by: TedSwart on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:10 PM EDT
It would seem that it is now openly known that MS rigged the voting in Germany,
Portugal and elsewhere. It makes one wonder how they slipped up in Brazil and
India. At any rate their rigging and vote stuffing is now so well known and the
defects of OOXML so well understood that ISO will surely lose all credibility if
they do endorse OOXML.
Surely OOXML is the most redundant, ill thought out unnecessary proposed
standard in the history of standardization. We can only hope that ISO has more
guts and moral fibre than many give them credit for.

What is needed is a merger of ODF and the Chinese UOF with the necessary input
of relevant information from MS to ensure that we have a standard that meets
everyone's needs when it comes to long term and everyday usage.
There is absolutely no case for more than one standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Complain to the ISO???
Authored by: rsi on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:12 PM EDT
Is there any method in place to file a formal complaint with the ISO, if any
Country member, or an outside person or group, feel that there was any illegal,
or unethical influence on the voting within the individual country, prior to the
final vote at the ISO?

If so, can this be filed PRIOR to the ISO vote, or do we have to wait till after
the vote to complain? I would be willing to set up a petition to be handed to
the ISO.

If not, then how can ANY "Standard" approved by the ISO, be
legitimate, if any one company in ANY country can influence the votes, in other
countries, and ultimately the ISO itself?

If this is the case, then we might as well hand the ISO over to Mickey$oft!

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened in Germany
Authored by: skip on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:22 PM EDT
What I don't get is, are these businesspeople of hugely powerful corporations or
a bunch of whining kids. 'not enough chairs', 'signed in too late'. I'm sorry?

What is this? a schoolyard argument or a decision that will effect millions?

There really should be some serious thought about this by the parties. I'm
somewhat surprised that Sun and Google haven't handled this better.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened in Germany
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:28 PM EDT
For many years, Microsoft has had a standard policy in dealing with

1) When they are entering a new market, Microsoft pushes for standards, so that
they can interoperate with existing hardware and software.

2) Once they are established in a market, Microsoft wants their software to be a
superset of the existing standard. They want to be able to do everything that
anyone else does, but they want to ADD features to make their product distinct.
This means that they can interoperate with other software and files, but they
can introduce features that break the software of anyone who competes with

3) Once Microsoft dominates a market, they cease to want open standards. They
make their own standards, they hide key information required for compatibility,
and they change the standards as needed to defeat attempts by other software to
be compatible. Basically they use their control of "standards" to
maintain their monopoly.

This pattern can easily be seen in the documents presented in the court cases
against Microsoft in the last few years. This is why Microsoft HAS to press for
an independent standard. Microsoft has no interest in interoperability. They do
not want anyone else to intrude into their markets. Microsoft is not driven by
technical issues, they are driven by marketing issues. Technology is used to
maintain the monopoly. The problem with a true OPEN standard is that Microsoft
has to compete on a level playing ground against all other products, and they
are unwilling to do this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What Happened in Germany - can consumers turn this around?
Authored by: chris hill on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:30 PM EDT
There's one thing that I'm wondering, if the process of disrupting the vote and having rigging is so obvious, can't the people take this process to task using the laws of various countries?

What I am talking about is class action lawsuits now that address the base problem by offering the following solution:

  • That the standards committee reporting for the standardization of a format is responsible for the failure of the format to follow all codes and any discrepancies are the fault of the ones who have approved the format without accounting for the missing information
  • That the standards committee members who are part of the vote pushing this standard will guarantee, of themselves and in writing, that this standard can be implemented as listed by any company or person without fault.
  • That the standard will not change and that the license under which the standard is implemented will be available and approved for improvements to the standard.
  • as guarantors of the standard, the committee members themselves who have pushed the standard and voted for it with clear bias and ignoring missing information, financially guarantee the public baring any losses in income, disputes due to this standard being abused, and the known methods of embrace and extend as demonstrated by software companies in past in order to ignore standards set and bar competition and enforce lock-in to non-open standardization.
  • That the members of the standards committee and their dependents that approve be aware that they will be financially responsible for any government that is unable to open any documents when changing programs while using this standard and pay for the work, effort, and time of translating documents to new standards as they arise or to new formats as necessary.

    At least we should think about doing this.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

  • Why doesn't Microsoft get its format approved by just fixing it?
    Authored by: songmaster on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:32 PM EDT
    I don't think they can fix it, since they've been selling MS Office 2007 for some time now — isn't OOXML supposed to be its native document format? That would be why the Terms of Reference for the ECMA Technical Committee were "to produce a formal standard ... which is fully compatible with the Office Open XML Formats." Fixing most of the published complaints in the standard would mean changing the format, which would contradict the TC's original ToR...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO code of Ethics
    Authored by: chribo on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:35 PM EDT

    The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publishes its Code of Ethics (pdf) on its webpage.

    The first normative paragraph describes the duties of the ISO members:

    "ISO members are commited to developping globally relevant International Standards by:
    ensuring fair and responsive application of the priciples of due process, transparency, openness, impartiallity and voluntary nature of standartization by:
    • organizing nationl input in a timely and effecitve manner, taking into account all relevant intersts at national level;
    • taking appropriate measueres to facilate the participation of consumers and other affected parties from civil society, SMEs and public authorities".
    (All emphasis taken from the original.)

    After reading the reports from Portugal, Germany and Switzerland I seriously doubt that the member organizations in those countries outlined their procedure in the spirit of the ISO Code of Ethics.

    - chribo

    PS: An other point to mention is that irregularities occurred in countries with a low corruption index.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    "So your mom will send you a document you can't quite read."
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 02:51 PM EDT
    You have hit the nail exactly on the head.

    "So your mom will send you a document you can't quite read."

    UNLESS you have MS Word.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    What Happened in Germany
    Authored by: eerde on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 03:25 PM EDT
    PS here is the new site that replaces the 'get the facts' nonsense; fault.mspx

    [ Reply to This | # ]

      OOXML in Mexico
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 03:32 PM EDT
      The following was copied from Slashdot's "Firehose"

      Microsoft practices for OOXML vote in Mexico
      Submitted by Kerberos on Friday August 24, @03:12PM

      Kerberos writes "Yesterday was the original deadline in Mexico to give a
      position towards the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Office Open XML) standardization. During
      the pass week I was a witness of the Microsoft effort create an unbiased vote
      during the process; their techniques included the email and phone calls, a lot
      of them.

      I received emails telling me how to vote (I quote and translate) "... to
      vote do click on the link below and write on the body: YES and your information
      ..." I think about how many companies affiliated to the CANIETI (the
      Mexican chamber for technology, telecommunications, etc.) followed the
      directions without even thinking about what they where doing.

      Today Microsoft reach my limit on acceptance about what a company can do or
      should do to support their business assets. I was worried about receiving calls
      (from Microsoft) with instructions on how to vote (as YES) or receiving emails
      with direct links to an email to vote... until I received a new email from them.
      The email I received included a direct link which opens my email client and puts
      on the body 'A Favor' which means 'I AGREE' o 'YES'. The recipient for this
      email was the person in charge of the votes, but this link included CCs to
      Microsoft emails! ... What!? .... They want to know how many of us voted and
      what was the vote? Why? Is this illegal? Is this ethic? Why nobody here in
      Mexico sees this clear illegal and biased tactic to ensure a Mexico vote on YES
      to the standard?

      I don't want to start a flame war over who is right, what standard is better or
      what the ISO should do with the OOXML. I'm against the techniques and wrongdoing
      of Microsoft regarding how they are manipulating the vote in Mexico and how
      nobody seems to see this as I do.

      I ear this is happening in almost al the countries; I just don't want believe
      what I see.

      - Omnia iam fient fieri quae posse negabam."

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      What Happened in Mexico today
      Authored by: Vox on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 03:39 PM EDT
      Well, here in Mexico, the voting happened today....70-50 against OOXML....but MS
      is trying to have the voting redone because many of us made our submission
      electronically instead of by snail mail.

      Now, of course, we are UPSing the letters in paper, so we'll see what MS's
      excuse will be...probably that it's too late? Even if it's just paper versions
      of votes already sent in electronically (which AMESOL, who is running the vote,
      had said was valid), inside the proper term.

      I'll let you all know what's going on as I find out.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      What Happened in Germany
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:21 PM EDT
      Isn't it just amazing what you can buy when
      you have $50,000,000,000?

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      • Why bother? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:39 PM EDT
      Uproar - but so what?
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:23 PM EDT

      So there's an uproar. So what? Probably the decision will still stand.

      Folks, it is many times easier to influence a result BEFORE it happens than after it has happened. After it has happened is usually too late.

      Does anybody know the schedule for the voting in other countries?

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      How to get your way - Irish style.
      Authored by: Stevieboy on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:29 PM EDT
      More Irish style finagling from M$ (ie. cash in brown paper envelopes).

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      What Happened in Germany
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:32 PM EDT
      "And so you'll be doing tech support for all your
      Windows-using relatives for the rest of your natural
      born days."

      What comes to mind here is stepping into something
      that the dog left in the yard and you just can't seem
      to get it all off. The smell just won't go away.


      [ Reply to This | # ]

      How much is this costing Microsoft?
      Authored by: kawabago on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:32 PM EDT
      It must be costing MS millions and millions to buy all these people to stack
      technical committees around the world. How would we go about determining what
      MS is spending so we can determine how much it costs to buy an ISO standard?
      This might be a good way of shaming the ISO for allowing their process to be
      hijacked this way.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      What Happened in Germany
      Authored by: electron on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 04:33 PM EDT
      > You know what I don't understand? Why doesn't Microsoft
      > get its format approved by just fixing it?

      Why? Because Microsoft does not want any changes to its file format. That is why
      it submitted it to the ECMA with the mandate to create a standard that conforms
      to the file formats for Microsoft Office 2007.

      Microsoft also wanted it to be difficult for others to implement that standard,
      hence the documentation is both excessively long and also incomplete - there are
      various parts that do not actually describe the implementation, and other parts
      which are non-documented binary inserts.

      Thus, Microsoft is not able to get its psudo standard approved by using the
      normal standardisation process. It therefore uses a "fast track"
      process and bullies the member organisations into voting "yes with
      comments" rather than "no with comments".

      A standard such as for office productivity file formats will be widely used and
      should have multiple implementations by several different vendors, and the
      standard should not be controlled or dictated by a single party.

      The fast track process is, frankly, inappropriate. The ISO should require the
      same level of examination for this proposed standard as it did for the ODF

      If not, why the favorism?


      "A life? Sounds great! Do you know where I could download one?"

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Fraunhofer Institutes
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 05:39 PM EDT
      Don't miss the section on the model of the Fraunhofer Institutes at Wikipedia. These institutes often tend to become flow heaters for rope-teams with scientific coat.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      multiple standards - What Happened in Germany
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 05:48 PM EDT
      "Multiple incompatible standards are a bad thing for customer choice, as
      purchasers of Betamax video recorders discovered to their cost."

      If I remember properly, Betamax was a better format, but more expensive.

      I'm not saying OOXML is better, but definitely more expensive for the consumer.

      Keep your fingers crossed.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Who can we sue?
      Authored by: xtifr on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 05:51 PM EDT

      I posted the following as part of another comment, but on reflection, I think it's a topic worthy of it's own discussion:

      Maybe it's because I'm an "ugly American", but I'd like to see some personal lawsuits come out of all of this. Suing MS for corruption and influence peddling is like shooting an elephant with a rubber band—it's unlikely to get their attention, let alone change their behavior. Suing the individuals involved in the corruption and influence peddling, though, is likely to cause other individuals to think twice in the future before agreeing to participate in Microsoft's insidious schemes.
      So, who can we sue, and where, and who might have standing to bring a suit? I know that the relevant laws for such things will vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but surely such blatant corruption is against the laws in at least some of the countries where this nonsense is going on. As I said before, maybe it's because I'm an "ugly American", a citizen of an insanely lawsuit-happy country, but I think that if the individuals who are misbehaving here don't face some consequences from their behavior, they'll never have any reason to modify that behavior.

      Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for it makes them soggy and hard to light.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Hope EU extends its Microsoft investigation to the ISO process
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 06:24 PM EDT
      Not sure who the body was, but lawsuits against Microsoft's
      corruption of the ISO process have been promised, so I hope
      to see all this in court.

      I also hope the same EU folks who have been looking at
      Microsoft's monopoly practices extend their inquiries into
      the ISO matter.

      All this really is stunning. Microsoft's corruption is so obvious
      that I have a hard time believing it will be allowed to prevail.
      It has the same credibility as SCO's claims.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Microsoft Office XML Formats? Defective by design
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 07:30 PM EDT

      You need some expertise to understand all this. Some of it has already been touched upon in general, but this is quite detailed.

      The author is Stephane Rodriguez.

      Microsoft Office XML Formats? Defective by design

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      What about the trouble MS is having with Vista?
      Authored by: TedSwart on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 07:41 PM EDT
      There is one point that no one, as yet, seems to have mentioned. I refer to the
      connection between the OOXML ISO submission and the trouble MS is having with

      MS itself appears to have been forced to admit that Vista was released
      prematurely and is in very bad shape. The situation is that many people have
      bought PCs with Vista pre-installed so that they get a Vista license but then
      reverted to Windows XP for actual day to day usage in the hope that Vista will
      eventually be user ready.

      But surely Vista and the .docx and other formats are the
      closest thing to an actual implementation of OOXML which exists. So how can MS
      have the nerve to pretend that the 6000 pages purporting to describe OOXML in
      full detail are in a fit state for submission to ISO as a potential standard? If
      MS themselves are having trouble with .docx files how can anyone else -- even
      remotely -- be in a position to implement such an apology for a standard?

      So we have a situation in which even MS Windows users are sticking to the .doc
      format rather than the .docx format and MS is trying to make .docx an ISO
      standard. What a joke.

      It seems as if MS's consistent policy, down the years, of deliberately avoiding
      backwards compatibility is tripping them up in a truly major way. The contrast
      with WordPerfect is quite sriking since the very latest versions of Corel
      software can read Wordperfect .wpd files going back at least as far as version

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Evil is as evil does
      Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 08:20 PM EDT

      I know several columnists have recently written articles about how we should
      accept Microsoft's submission of it's Shared Source licenses to OSI, and how we
      shouldn't hold Microsoft's past deeds against it.

      And now we get this. By this I mean the blatant attempts by Microsoft to stack
      various national committees to ensure that Microsoft XML gets a yes vote. These
      aren't past deeds, these are present deeds, and proof that the Leopard hasn't
      changed it's spots. Microsoft is still a bad corporate citizen, still engaged in
      practices that while they may not be illegal, are definitely immoral.

      I would strongly suggest that complaints be made to ISO, ECMA, and the various
      national standards bodies about Microsoft's actions in trying to make Microsoft
      XML an ISO standard. ECMA in particular should be lobbied intensively, they do
      have the option of withdrawing a proposed standard from the ISO approval

      So send those letter people. Remember that while snail mail is old fashioned, a
      thousand letters are harder to ignore than a thousand emails.


      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Competing standards
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 09:24 PM EDT
      "Not about us, the public, I don't think, the very ones doomed to deal with
      the flotsam and jetsom of two standards..."

      Oh, I dunno. Look how well it turned out for us with Blu-ray and HD-DVD. :-(

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Fraunhofer statement in English
      Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 09:35 PM EDT
      The link provided at the top of this page is the brief summary of the German Press release. Change the end of the url from lang=de to lang=en, and you get Fraunhofer's English version. On the right side of the page is a link to the full statement, 1 page .pdf

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Bill's progeny
      Authored by: stomfi on Friday, August 24 2007 @ 09:59 PM EDT
      I helped start a business in the 70s that made inexpensive high quality stereos,
      competing by allowing hifi shops to badge the product as their own, and
      modularising the components for easy plug in repairs. I put a lot of myself into
      the business and even though I am no longer involved I am more than happy that
      the child of my efforts is still in existence.

      I think Bill feels the same way about Microsoft, as he promotes the idea that
      his child invented the PC and all the technology it offers, including the
      Internet, browser, and office software, even though his child appears to some to
      be somewhat disabled, and unable to compete on a level playing field with the
      children being born today.

      He tries every trick in the book to keep his child alive, and protected from
      harm, and this includes paying for favourable outcomes, cheating on tests and
      tilting the playing field in his child's favour.

      After all wouldn't you do the same if it was your child and you had the power
      and money to do so, even though it might disadvantage those relying on the

      By getting two International standards for document interoperability, he changes
      the playing field forever in his child's favour.

      One, by making the standards body completely irrelevant for future standards, as
      any dominant company will be able to have their own International (Industry)

      Two, by making sure that his child will have it's own standards environment to
      play in forever, and thus have continued life long after it would normally have
      been put to rest.

      Three, by giving his child tools that no other child can use without permission
      from him to play on his field while his child can play on the other standard
      fields as well as its own.

      Pretty clever child of his efforts protection I think. Yet as many have pointed
      out, it would be easier for him to cure his child of all its ills so it could
      play effectively with all the others. This would be to his child's advantage
      being that it is still the dominant player, so the problem must be with the
      parent, not with the child.

      Maybe if everyone in the FLOSS community went to work for MS, their mindset
      would prevail and the child could grow up straight and tall and be welcome at
      the World Cup Match.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      It's time to censure Massachusetts.
      Authored by: Ian Al on Saturday, August 25 2007 @ 06:49 AM EDT
      It is clear that Microsoft are expending resources around the world and taking
      reckless chances with their reputation among PHBs and government heads around
      the world. It must be very important to them. I asked myself, why?

      When they began the fight to give their GUI based Word pre-eminence against the
      competition they found no need to promote a document format standard. By various
      measure through the years such as the use of secret Windows APIs they achieved
      their aim. Over that time their document standards changed substantially so
      that, by the time of Word 2003, it could support the latest word processing
      features that were, by now, moving in the direction of document layout rather
      than word processing.

      Over this period of time, authors found that their writings were beginning to be
      lost to them except in printed form, even if they were being written in early
      versions of Word, but especially if they were produced on non-Windows programs
      and platforms. More importantly, librarians were coming to terms with archiving
      electronic documents and so were businesses and governments. By the turn of the
      millenium they realised that there were technical problems with archiving. They
      started to look for solutions.

      If you have some of your documents on 8" floppies you will be aware of one
      of the technical challenges, but the one in question is that of document
      standards. I suspect that the world's libraries were thinking in terms of
      solutions to the de facto .doc document standards, but Massachusetts realised
      that the new ODF standard was a solution that had an assured future. The mistake
      they made was to observe their legal directives for procurement and to write
      their IT procurement documents in a way that any supplier of proprietary or free
      solutions could meet if they met the standard.

      Which is the 'why'. I don't know when Microsoft realised that they needed a
      document standard to win future procurement contracts around the world, but it
      was the Massachusetts new IT procurement policies which told them it was urgent
      and important. The question I am left with is why they are taking such
      tremendous risks to get the document standard agreed that still leaves Microsoft
      as the only program maker who can use it. The aim is obviously to maintain
      customer lock-in, but the risks are high.

      Looking back to previous articles on the potential Microsoft OSI standard I was
      told that I was being naive to think that programmers would not, in an instant,
      spot a Microsoft claim to meet the open source standard for which the source was
      not made available. PJ was kind enough to cover my embarrassment by pointing out
      that it was controlling PHBs and government officials that were the target and
      not the programmers. In the case of OOXML it is again the controlling PHBs and
      government officials that are the target. Some, as in Massachusetts, will be
      hounded out of office by Microsoft and replaced by compliant officials that will
      spout 'standard' and follow Microsoft's directions. What about the others? They
      could well be fooled by an OOXML standard in the same way that non-programmers
      could be fooled by a Microsoft OSI standard. However, most will refer the
      question to expert opinion. I think of the national libraries which are more
      'expert opinion' than PHB. Just like the programmers, they will see the
      world-wide technical objections to the latest Microsoft standard and conclude
      that it does not meet their needs.

      Local and national governments are not so well supported by expert opinion.
      There is much more chance of making a PHB-style decision especially after a,
      Microsoft, free lunch.

      Am I worried? Yes. Do I think the battle is lost? I like to think about what
      happened in the case of another open standard. When SCOG misrepresented
      (warning, euphemism alert) the case against Linux, a loose collaboration of
      alert souls around the world tore their representations to pieces (don't ask me
      how I know, I just do, right?) and the tearing was made public by the media all
      around the world. I see this happening again, but this time it is not just
      Groklaw on the case, there is a wide body of expert folk publicising what is
      wrong with the OOXML standard. That is why I think Microsoft is being reckless.
      If I can ask why, so can all those government organisations and government
      authorised organisations who have a spoon in the mixture, an axe to grind and
      good technical advice.

      It is not Microsoft's way to make their dirty tricks public. That makes me think
      that they consider the war on the way to being lost and are still so driven by
      lock-in that they cannot countenance supporting ODF. If their product was
      unassailably pre-eminent, it would not matter what document format they used.
      That tells me it is not. is confirmation of that point for me. I
      have yet to know whether it meets the needs of professional users.

      So, it's all Massachusetts' fault for making it an urgent issue. Well, perhaps
      not entirely their fault because FEMA also managed to highlight the issue of
      web-based documentation access during the Katrina disaster. Still, Microsoft is
      right; black is white, open is closed and bad news is good news.

      Ian Al

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
      All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
      Comments are owned by the individual posters.

      PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )