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Norway and OOXML
Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 01:43 PM EDT

There is now a report from Norway on how Microsoft rallied its partners to try to get a favorable vote on MSOOXML. Norway will tell us the vote results on September 2. Groklaw members who can read Norwegian have translated the two stories in the media for us, so we know what is going on there.

First, apparently Norway's procedure includes giving serious consideration to comments sent in. IDG.se reports that a template letter was sent by Microsoft in Norway for partners to send to the technical committee there. And in fact 37 identical letters were sent, but as it turned out, many of the companies just sent in the letter without even signing it. Over half of all the comments received were in the pro-Microsoft pile.

The other article, Digi.no, tells us that there were 37 identical letters sent in. There was a total of 59 comments submitted. But Microsoft representatives say there was no pressure as has come to light in Sweden or ballot stuffing there:

Microsoft Norway denied that they had done the same here. "We did not want to run a major mobilization. We we in dialogue with those that we know have a strong engagement for Open XML," said Eirik Lae Solberg, Communication Manager of Microsoft Norway to digi.no earlier today.

Among other things, he pointed to the fact that besides Microsoft itself, only four partners participated in the Standard Norge meeting: Questpoint, Mamut, Software Innovation and Acos. However, digi.no have had access to the written memos that was presented to the participants of the meeting. Of the total 59 submissions, 37 of them consist of identical letters from a long list of different Microsoft customers and partners.

I'm guessing you'd like to see the letter, wouldn't you?

Here's the template letter:

**************************

To

Standard Norge
Att. JCT-1 SC34 committee

Declaration of Support For ISO-Approval of Open XML

I have been made aware that Norway is to cast its vote regarding the ECMA standard Open XML during 2007, and that the Norwegian position on the matter will be decided by the Norwegian ISO committee (JCT-1 SC34) at Standard Norge. In that connection we think that it is important that Standard Norge is aware about the undersigned's position on this standard.

By signing this declaration, we would like to point out the following to Standard Norge:

* An ISO standardization of Open XML will have massive positive effects on the IT industry in Norway, including on our company, our customers and partners. The standardization will also have a large influence on document standards in Norway in the future.

We base this on the following observations:

* A standardization of Open XML will ensure backwards compatibility with billions of existing documents -- other existing formats do not meet this criteria.

* Multiple co-existing standards are not uncommon. For an example one can mention the formats JPEG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF when it comes to digital images. These exist side by side and serve different and overlapping purposes to the benefit of the users.

* Open XML does not preclude the use of other standards such as RTF, TXT, ODF, PDF etc. On the contrary, an ISO standardization will further the interoperability between these standards. By making Open XML an internationally recognized standard, publicly available to all, it is ensures that the standard can communicate with other standards.

Thus, by this we would like to express our full support for Open XML as an ISO standard.

[Date]

[Business, Name]

************************

This, to me, is an open admission that ODF is not compatible with OpenXML and never will be, and that the reason is that Microsoft and partners see an opportunity to make money by being the only ones that can do backward compatibilty well. That's fine as a proprietary business model. As a standard, not so much.

As for JPEG and GIF and PNG and TIF, the simple truth is that there are multiple formats because some wanted to escape patents. Standards bodies in the past have not been as careful as they should have been in some cases, to make sure standards are available without royalties, as the Rambus debacle illustrates. So I don't think this is a good example to present, since it brings to mind the very fears many of us have regarding the patent promise on MSOOXML.

Digi.no comments:

The letters looks more like a signature campaign than comments about why the Microsoft document format should be approved as an ISO-standard. In some of the letters the senders didn't even make the effort to fill in the name of the business. On several it literally says "Business, name", instead of the name of the business and person that signed it.

Here's a list of Norwegian companies that sent in the letter:

* Flekkefjord kommune
* Sametinget
* Sykehuset Asker og Bærum HF
* Ullevål Universitetssykehus
* Avenir
* Hands
* IT Partner Harstad
* Mamut
* Oslo Datasenter
* Umoe IKT
* Webstep
* Abile
* Accenture
* Active Templates
* Avanade Norge
* Bouvet
* Ementor Norge
* Fønix Data
* Holte byggsafe
* Inmeta
* IT Partner Bodø
* IT Partner Møre
* IT Partner Tromsø
* iTet
* Itum
* Jensen Consulting
* Maritech
* Masterminds
* Norsk Data Senter
* Objectware
* Osiris Data
* Ravenholm Computing
* RB Datatjenester
* Steria
* SuperOffice
* Systempartner Sør
* Umoe Consulting

At least there were no letters from dead people.


  


Norway and OOXML | 89 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Rob Weir, only slightly O/T
Authored by: Terrier Tribe on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 01:48 PM EDT
Apparently US Courts have frowned on stuffing the standards body in the not-too-distant past. Scroll down a little in his Pseudoran dom Thoughts column.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic thread
Authored by: Just_Bri_Thanks on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 01:52 PM EDT
Please keep off topic commentary contained to this thread, clickies may be made
by obeying the instructions in red.

---
Bri. Just Bri. Thank you.
(With a long i sound.)
Without qualification, certification,
exception, or (hopefully) bias.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Incorrectamations
Authored by: Just_Bri_Thanks on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 01:54 PM EDT
In case someone messed something up somehwares.

(typographical errors in this very comment were assuredly intentional.)

---
Bri. Just Bri. Thank you.
(With a long i sound.)
Without qualification, certification,
exception, or (hopefully) bias.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News picks commentary
Authored by: Just_Bri_Thanks on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 01:55 PM EDT
Bam! Hat trick!

---
Bri. Just Bri. Thank you.
(With a long i sound.)
Without qualification, certification,
exception, or (hopefully) bias.

[ Reply to This | # ]

JPEG and GIF and PNG and TIF
Authored by: tz on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 02:12 PM EDT
Another point is this is also like comparing PDF with ODF and HTML - all are
"document formats", but the first is for printer and imaging fidelity,
the second for document editing, the third for the web, so each are optimized
for such.

OOXML does nothing which ODF can't do (and if MS wanted to, they could have
modified ODF to have a superset functionality to OOXML as well as any legacy
formats).

I've also asked if Office2007 has been audited for compliance against OOXML -
what happens if there is a difference - will anyone reject MSOffice for a
compliant implementation? I.e the whole purpose of a standard is so that if
someone else implements OOXML perfectly, the document should work fine in
Office, and any Office document should work fine in that implementation. Has
anyone checked?

JPEG is lossy but good for photograph type images. GIF is a legacy very simple
image format from Compuserve where there was little else and there was some
patent threats against the LZ77 compression (so creating a GIF was covered, but
not decoding if I remember). PNG is the standard for (mainly) lossless imaging
supporting many depths and features including alpha channel. TIF is also a
simple bitmap I think originating from Facsimile (FAX) but tends to be used like
JPEG but lossless. There is some overlap.

[ Reply to This | # ]

billions of existing documents?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 02:29 PM EDT

These billions of existing documents are not currently in Open XML. How exactly
is backward compatibility ensured through making Open XML an ISO standard?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Norway and OOXML
Authored by: kattemann on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 02:56 PM EDT
We don't know who have signed the letters, but the one that was published on
digi.no was signed by a "rådgiver" - advisor - to Sametinget, the
parliament of the Sami people in Norway. Two other letters came from a
govermnent owned hospital (Asker & Bærum) and the country's largest
university hospital (Ullevål). It would be interesting to know how the letters
had been discussed in these organisations - or were they simply signed by somone
in the IT staff? If so, what carrots or sticks are hiding out there?

I can understand that MS partners want to stay on the good side of Microsoft,
but what's in it for hospitals, or the City of Flekkefjord (pop. ca. 9000)?

[ Reply to This | # ]

*ensures that the standard can communicate with other standards*
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:08 PM EDT
Since when standards "communicate"?
Didn't know they were alive! But maybe the complexity of OOXML is so great there
is a chance it will organize itself in a life form intelligent enough to
communicate on its own? </sarcasm>

How can anyone with a half brain believe something that is illogical is beyond
me, let alone even sign it...

[ Reply to This | # ]

massive positive effects on the IT industry
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:12 PM EDT
Doesn't anyone notice that "massive positive effects on the IT
industry" is marketdroid talk for "customers will have to spend lots
more money much of which gets sent to Bill Gates".

Users and businesses spending more money for what they already do quite
adequately will have 'negative effects' on many other industries when funds are
diverted from those into 'IT'.

Which, of course, is the whole point of the new format in the first place.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The companies
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:14 PM EDT
Most of these are ISVs, integration and consulting companies and software
resellers.
I recognise several that are MS partners and many who have a reason to use MS
technologies, products and support for their products or business. This is not
unusual given the wide use of MS products globally.
Here are some partner lists:
http://www.microsoft.com/norge/partner/mspp/competencies/isvsp.mspx

And:
- Two hospitals (reasonable large, in or around Oslo).
- One county administration (small town).
- Sametinget = The Norwegian Sami congress / parliament. The elected body for
the indigenous Sami people.
I'm puzzled by this one. If this was the vote of the congress I wonder why they
decided for OOXML and if there was any debate on this.
If it is just the IT department of the administration it could be misleading to
present it as the answer of the congress.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Norway and OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:29 PM EDT
here is another template letter to lobby NBs and earn "ISO stamps" for your products ( feel free to use it )

:-)

http://holloway.co.nz/sincerit y-generator/

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML and standards
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:38 PM EDT
> * A standardization of Open XML will ensure backwards
> compatibility with billions of existing documents -- other > existing
formats do not meet this criteria.

Let me correct that for you:

* A standardization on using Microsoft Office 2007 and every new version in the
future will ensure Microsoft's revenue stream -- other existing formats do not
meet this criteria.

> * Open XML does not preclude the use of other standards

No, it is Microsoft Office 2007 which will do that by ensuring that Microsoft's
own formats are used easily and others are just too hard to work out how to use
them and/or they are 'mysteriously' degraded.

[ Reply to This | # ]

SIS Declares OOXML Vote Invalid
Authored by: dahnielson on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 03:45 PM EDT
SIS has just declared the vote on OOXM invalid in a press release. But, since there's no time to redo the vote Sweden will vote abstain during the international vote procedure.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Backwards compatibility?
Authored by: GLJason on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 04:11 PM EDT
* A standardization of Open XML will ensure backwards compatibility with billions of existing documents -- other existing formats do not meet this criteria.

OOXML does NOTHING for backwards-compatibility. Old Microsoft documents will need to be converted to OOXML to abide by the standard, they could just as easily be converted to ODF. The only possible "backwards-compatibility" would be in documents already converted to OOXML, and there are more ODF documents on the web than OOXML documents. Also, documents converted from prior versions of Microsoft Office might include tags such as "formatAsWord95", which aren't properly defined in the spec so that the only implementation that will properly make use of these tags is Microsoft Office, leading to continued incompatibility with other implementations of the proposed standard.

Combine this clarifications with the existing 300+ technical problems with the OOXML specification and that leads one to the the incontrovertible conclusion that this "standard" will not be a standard in any true sense of the word. The ISO standardization process is being used simply to lend authority to one particular implementation of the format while raising barriers to entry for completing implementations. The OOXML standard also redefines several accepted standards, such as SVG, MathML, date formats and country codes with new values, leading to probable confusion. Want to know how to represent a country code? You can use the ISO specification, or you can look at page 3472 in Microsoft's OOXML specification. Want to determine what values to use for country codes? You can use the ISO standard or you can look at page 5847 in the Microsoft OOXML specification.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The unsigned letters shouldn't be considered
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 04:17 PM EDT
"By signing this declaration, we would like to point out the following to
Standard Norge:"

Given this statement, in the letter, if it isn't signed the person/organization
is not making the attached statements.

Dan

[ Reply to This | # ]

Norway and OOXML
Authored by: jmc on Thursday, August 30 2007 @ 05:06 PM EDT

At least there were no letters from dead people.

Alas this saga has turned up quite a few from (apparently) brain-dead people.

[ Reply to This | # ]

    Norway and OOXML
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 31 2007 @ 07:38 AM EDT
    Standard Norge first said that they were going to wait until Monday to announce
    the result, but now they have a press release on their web site. A link to it
    and a translation I just made are here:

    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-18195/norway-says-no

    Summary: Norway votes "no", with comments.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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