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Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote & Norway's Excuse
Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 01:50 PM EDT

Adding to the first official protest, against Norway's sudden Yes vote on OOXML, now we have news from ChannelRegister that there will be a second complaint filed, this one about the UK's sudden about-face:
The delay on making any official announcement suggests the ISO is taking a cautious approach before telling Microsoft it can pop open the bubbly. Meanwhile, the Open Source Consortium (OSC) has bemoaned the British Standards Institute’s (BSI) own apparent change of heart on OOXML. Last week the BSI adjusted its stance on Microsoft’s somewhat controversial file format.

OSC president Mark Taylor said: "Once the BSI finally own up to what they've done, we will be lodging a formal complaint in the UK, as will many others.

The ISO has yet to put out an official announcement, but that article leaks the "news" that OOXML has "passed" and Microsoft, which yesterday said it wouldn't saying anything until OSI did "out of respect for the standards process" today put out a confirmation statement ("there is overwhelming support for OOXML") anyway. I wouldn't say overwhelming support, exactly. Some would call it overwhelmingly appalling. Michael Leenaars of OpenDoc Society says "This must be one of the worst results ever for a standard to pass within ISO/JTC1 in years."

Update 2: ECMA decided not to wait for the ISO official announcement either. That made it possible to announce on April Fool's Day. Perfection. Martin LaMonica details all the leaks.

Oh, and the man who more than anyone seems to have made it happen would prefer that we not hate him for it. Or I think that's what his list is saying. Here's the question I'd like to ask Patrick Durusau: did Microsoft make any threats that unless you supported OOXML they'd fight against the next version of ODF but that if you'd scratch their back, they'd scratch yours? If so, you should tell someone. Like the EU Commission, for instance.

His is not the only effort to paper over the mess. Here's Standards Norway's statement, posted in English by a Microsoft person, which is no doubt very busy indeed today with damage control. It's now available also here.

Standards Norway's Excuses

Here's the first part of Standards Norway's justification (note that in the update, below, we have a better translation for comparison):

The proposal of sending the ECMA standard Open Office XML to ISO/IEC in order to appoint this as the ISO/IEC standard has been handled through the use of a so called “fast-track”-proceedure. This kind of rapid handling is used by ISO to appoint standards that are developed by standardisation organisations that have established cooperation agreements with ISO, for ISO standards. These are often industry standards that already holds a certain degree of accept in the market. By turning such standards into ISO standards they become open standards that can be maintained and further developed in the ISO system. OOXML is an extensive standard (with more than 6000 pages) and using a fast track procedure on this document is very demanding. There have been heavy discussions in many countries as to whether this is an appropriate procedure for these kind of matters. Never the less was this procedure accepted as the appropriate method for handling the OOXML standard by ISO and IEC centrally in January 2008.

Often, but not this time. Microsoft doesn't even implement it. And as for what follows, it's an admission that this honking format's documentation was too extensive to fit in the fast track process. That is why they should have said no, not yes. Here's the next excuse:

Prior to the OOXML being distributed for voting, the document standard ODF had, after a proposal from the standardisation organisation OASIS, been through an equivalent procedure without any comments on this being problematic. ODF and OOXML are by many considered to be equal document standards, and due to the fact that ODF already has become an ISO standard , the questions has been raised as to whether ISO/IEC can have two competing standards. This question was settled early in 2007 by ISO and IEC centrally stating that there was no clash of interest between the two standards.

*We* aren't to blame. It's ISO's fault. They passed it on through and told us that there was no problem with two standards. It's true it's ISO's fault, and if you track revisions and date they were made in the Directives, I think you'll find it enlightening. But, no comments on having two standards being problematic? This is certainly not true. I've seen all the country's comments, and there were many such. Standards Norway seems to be saying that because *ISO* didn't tell them there was a problem, there is no such problem, and they were not allowed to notice any problems on their own.

Except there is a problem. OOXML is designed to destroy ODF and all who want to use it, using Micrsooft's monopoly power to effecuate it, in my view, and I know I'm not alone. That is, I believe, precisely why there is no current way to be truly interoperable and there never will be, due to two factors:

  • the proprietary extensions that no one but Microsoft can actually safely use;

  • the exclusion of the GPL and other Free and Open Source licenses from the coverage of patent safety that covers everyone else on the rest, the non-proprietary parts. So in effect, no one but Microsoft can functionally use OOXML perfectly, and they can't interoperate safely either. You tell me, Standards Norway, why that isn't a problem in a standard.
  • Here's the very best part of the self-justification:

    The public inquiry on the procedure for an ISO standard proposal is of high importance. This is an opportunity for all involved parties to state their opportunity and to make proposal for improvements. When Standard Norge sent the proposal out for public inquiry there were 47 comments, where 38 said yes to the proposal and 9 said no. As already known, many of the yes-responses were identical and phrased in a way leaving no doubt that they were the results of a campaign from Microsoft Norway. All the answers came signed and from known senders. Standard Norge cannot take other opinions into consideration than what have been expressed in writing. We would like to add that there is nothing unusual about receiving identical answers in controversial matters where involved parties are discussing the matter and supporting one another’s statements.

    Norway’s statement in this matter was scheduled to be ready for voting in ISO in August 2007. At this point however, there were controversies in the committee regarding Norway’s position, but with a clear majority wanting Norway to vote no. The ISO regulations state that in order for a member to get its no-vote approved it has to be complemented with comments that explains the reason for voting no.

    On the meeting of March 28 the committee thus focused on handling the received comments. According to the ISO regulations all comments that lead to a rejected proposal must be handled in a way that will incorporate them into the standard proposal. As a consequence the members can then chose to change their no to a yes, which was what happened during the OOXML process.

    So. They had to do what they did, because Microsoft flunkies sent them more letters. And they were 'prisoners of conscience', I gather, since the rules say they have to respond to the letters, and that is why they changed the vote.


    Aren't you thrilled to find out how standards are approved? On the basis of who sends the most phony letters? That's just the tale of how they voted in August. It should have been a straight NO with comments, but those letters made it a conditional Yes. Blech. Imagine what will happen to the standards process if this is all it takes.

    Next, they tell how they saw no evil and heard no evil at the BRM meeting, where many witnesses have already told you how bad it was, and then they justify their next step like this:

    Naturally the individual country’s comments also seen in context. Discussions at the BRM meeting led also that our comments had to include decisions that had been taken there.

    So once again they find themselves bound by conscience to deviate still further from the clear choice of Norway. They narrowed what they could do to a definition that if Norway's particular comments had all beeen resolved, they *had* to go against what the technical committee wanted, even though this would be highly unusual:

    In all standardization work in which Standard Norge participate it is Standard Norge that formally votes. The usual rule for international work is that we follow the advice that our mirror committees provide when there is general agreement in the committee. We have on occasion gone against the majority, and there have been instances when the committees feedback has been such that it has not been possible to respond with a yes or a no. In the case of the latter we can with the usual standardization procedure choose to abstain. With the ‘fast-track’ procedure we must provide notice of we want to alter our original vote or not, once the result from the BRM meeting becomes available. The main issue in the Norwegian committee meeting on March 28 was to clarify whether if our comments were given due consideration to the degree that we could change Norway’s vote from No to Yes…. Prior to the meeting 21 committee members had signe an open letter to Standard Norge which argued why Standard Norge should vot no to OOXML. Thus they had taken a position before the committee had discussed how our comments had been considered. In addition the letter also contained other and previously known arguments against the standardization proposal.

    During the meeting it became clear that it was not possible to reach and agreement in the committee about how good or bad our comments had been treated in ISO.

    Following consideration in the committee, at a meeting between delegates from the BRM-meeting and representatives from Standard Norge, there was a further effort made to create a degree of agreement which did not succeed. The leader of the committee has an important role succeed in creating agreement, but the leader of the committee had already in 2007 flagged his position which meant that he could no longer meet the criteria for neutrality. He had therefore renounced his task to lead the committees consideration of OOXML and Standad Norges deputy managing director therefore led meetings for consideration of this matter in the committee.

    You'll remember that they ousted the prior leader of the committee because he was opposed to OOXML. You are only neutral if you stand on your head to favor OOXML, I gather. And here his replacement shows one how to do that. With him on the job, no consensus could be arrived at because he didn't agree with the 80 percent who didn't want to approve OOXML, so he wins via a technicality:

    Its is correct that a majority of members in the committee believed that comments were not given sufficient consideration However, and in line with what the meeting leader stressed, Standard Norges comments were not formulated as absolutes. The phrasing provided, according to Standard Norge, some leeway which was important to find acceptable solutions through at an international level. During the commentary rounds in the committee meetings there were many that made absolute demands to fulfillment of comments which confirmed that the rigid positions were well established. Standard Norge thus considered any further discussion as futile with regards to achieving agreement in the committee.

    No absolutes. Some leeway for the leader. Get the hustle? Next, they admit the format doesn't actually work at the moment and needs work, but it's not their fault they approved it half-baked. ISO is responsible:

    In Standard Norges summary of the status of the case following the committee meeting we emphasized the following;
    • In the committee there is a clear majority that is opposed to making OOXML into a ISO/IEC standard. Standard Norge must however in its overall assessment also consider the result of the formal hearing, and thus there is a majority of yes votes. There was greater number of end-users of document standard formats among those in favor, than those who were opposed to the standard.
    • There is agreement about the need for improving the standardization proposal and Standard Norge believes this can best take place if OOXML becomes an ISO standard now. Work on revising can start immediately in the ISO committee which is responsible for this standard, and Norway should be in the best possible position to initiate and participate in this work. ( the ODF standard has has undergone several changes since it become an ISO standard)
    • Standard Norge believes that ISO should critically evaluate the ‘Fast-track’ procedure. We believe that work with OOXML would have been better served if it had been initiated as a new ISO project. The problem , however, was that the proposer ECMA justifiably launched the project as ‘Fast-track’. Standard Norge is also in 2008 one of the 12 members that comprise ISO ‘Technical Management Board’ (TMB) which is responsible for standardization work and the rules and procedures this should follow. We, at TMB, have already decided to discuss experiences with the use of the ‘fast-track’ procedure with the ISO/IEC 29500 procedure as a point of departure. The issue will likely be raised at TMB’s meeting june 3-4 this year.
    • As a member of ISO we are as members in our sister organization IEC required to do our best to ensure that the standarization proposals we are working on can be approved as ISO and IEC standards.

    And there, ladies and gentlemen, you have it. A format has been approved as a standard, despite it being impossible to implement it, and for reasons that do not bear close examination. Which is what they will now receive. Even the folks voting to approve it admit it still needs a lot of work. Yes, I view this statement as an admission. And that doesn't address the anticompetitive aspect, or the fast track inappropriateness or the OSP. If I were working for Microsoft, I'd be ashamed to post that on my webpage. I gather Microsoft doesn't even know when they look really, really bad.

    Update: A Groklaw member, Nils Grotnes, has now pointed me to the Standards Norway press release, if you'd prefer to read it there, and he's done what I think is a better translation:

    The process related to the voting by Standard Norway in ISO

    Criticism was not unexpected by Standard Norway after it became known that we would be changing our "no-vote with comments" on the proposed OOXML (Office Open XML) to a "yes" after the meeting in our national mirror committee for IT, SN/K 185 Friday 28th of Mars. We had also expected criticism if we had stayed with our no-vote.

    Important points in this matter have, as seen from our side, among other things been:

    1. The proposal to send the ECMA-standard Open Office XML over to ISO/IEC for making it into a ISO/IEC-standard has happened by the use of the so-called "fast-track" process. This type of speed treatment is used by ISO to be able to have standards that has been created by standards organisations ISO have cooperative agreements with into ISO standards. Often this involves business area standards that already are established in the marked. By making such a standard into a ISO-standard it becomes an open standard that can be maintained and developed in the ISO-system.

    OOXML is a very big standard to get to grips with (over 6000 pages), and a "fast-track"-procedure for such a document is very demanding. It has been highly debated in many countries if this was a good way to go. Nevertheless ISO and IEC centrally did in January 2007 approve that this method could be used for the OOXML standard.

    2. Before the OOXML was sent out to be decided, the document format standard ODF, after proposal from the standardisation organisation OASIS, had been through a similar process without that being considered as problematic. ODF and OOXML is by many seen as equal document format standards, and since ODF has already become a ISO-standard, the question has been raised if ISO/IEC can have two competing standards. Also this question was decided early in 2007, by ISO and IEC centrally declaring that this was not standards that was in conflict with each other.

    3. During 2007 Norwegian IT environments put a great deal of attention on the ISO-process for OOXML. The debate of what ISO should or shouldn't do, was quickly dominated by very active proponents and opponents of OOXML. The two questions about the use of "fast-track" and parallel standards has all this time been themes of discussion also in Standard Norway committee SN/K 185 (even though the questions as such, as far as ISO was concerned, was decided earlier that year). The interest for the treatment of the issue in Standard Norway led to our mirror committee expanding from 6-7 members to around 30.

    4. The hearing phase for the processing of a suggested standard in ISO is very important. This is where all interests have the opportunity to give their opinions and suggest improvements. When Standard Norway sent the proposal to the national hearing, it received in all 47 statements, whereof 38 replied yes to the suggestion and 9 replied no. As known most of the yes suggestions had identical wording and was initiated by a campaign from Microsoft Norway. All replies came with identified sender and was signed. Standard Norway cannot give independent companies other opinions than they express themselves in writing. We will also add that it is not unusual for us to receive similarly sounding hearing replies in controversial cases where different parties seek support of their views.

    The Norwegian view of the proposal was to be clarified for voting in ISO in August 2007. It was at that time disagreement in the committee about what answer Norway should give, but with a clear majority of members in SN/K 185 that wanted Standard Norway to vote no. ISO-rules are such that if a member want their no-vote recognized, it must be accompanied by comments explaining the no-view.

    At the meeting Friday 28th of Mars the committee therefore focused on the treatment of the received comments. It is also so in ISO rules that if the voting results in the standard not being accepted, the received comments shall be worked on, with the intention of having them incorporated into the standard. Then the members can decide if they want to change their "no" to a "yes", and this was exactly what happened for OOXML.

    5. To get a standard accepted a qualified majority of ISO-members is needed. Among the members that are part of the committee developing the standard, at least 2/3 must vote for the standard, while no more than 1/4 of all members voting must have voted against.

    As known Standard Norway decided to vote "no with comments" even though the result of our national hearing showed a clear majority for a "yes"-vote. Thus our decision was to be considered a conditioned yes, something we expressed in our press release 31st of August 2007. The basis of Standard Norway decision was that it was important to get an improvement of the standards proposal, in line with what the mirror committee expressed and the mechanisms for voting "no with comments".

    6. According to the ISO and IEC rules the national comments is to be processed in a special meeting called the "Ballot resolution meeting" (BRM). The number of comments (close to 3500) to be worked on in a short time was significant even though many countries had the same comments. The BRM-meeting itself was, according to the Norwegian delegation, handled in an effective and proper way in accordance with the instructions and rules that apply to ISO/IEC meetings.

    Before the BRM-meeting the comments from Norway was processed in the same way as the rest of the comments. The editor for the document put forward suggestions, and it was these suggestions the BRM-meeting based their work on. Two of our suggestions was refused, the rest was accepted or accepted with modifications. Naturally the individual countries comments must be considered in the full context. Discussions at the BRM-meeting of course also led to our comments having to be subjected to the decisions made there.

    7. In all standards work where Standard Norway participates, it is Standard Norway that formally gives the vote. The regular rule for the international work is that we follow the advices given by our mirror committee when there is a general agreement in the committee. It has happened that we have gone against a majority, and it has happened that the feedback from the committee is such that it's impossible to answer either yes or no. For the latter case we can during the regular ISO procedure select to not give a vote ("abstain"). With the "fast-track" procedure we have to, when the results from the BRM-meeting is clear, give notice about if we want to change our original vote or not.

    8. The main issue at the Norwegian committee meeting the 28th of Mars was to make clear if our comments was taken into consideration to a acceptable degree for us to change the Norwegian vote from "no" to "yes". Before the meeting 21 members of the committee had put their names on an open letter to Standard Norway that explained why Standard Norway should vote "no" to OOXML. They had therefore taken a stand before the committee had the chance to discuss how our comments was taken into consideration. Additionally the letter also contained other and earlier known arguments against the standard proposal.

    During the meeting it was quite clear that it was impossible to get to an agreement on how good or bad our comments had been treated in ISO.

    After the committee deliberation, at a meeting between the delegates from the BRM-meeting and representatives from Standard Norway, another attempt was made to create a degree of consensus, but this did not work out either.

    The leader of the committee has an important role to achieve the highest degree of consensus, but the leader of the committee had already in 2007 flagged a point of view that made it impossible for him to fulfil the demand of neutrality. He had therefore stepped down from the task of leading the committees work on OOXML, and Standard Norway vice administrative director was the leader for the work on this issue in the committee.

    9. It is correct that there was a majority of the members in the committee that considered the comments not taken into consideration to a sufficient degree. On the other hand and in accordance with what the leader of the meeting stressed, the Standard Norway comments was not formed as absolutes. The expressions gave, in the view of Standard Norway, a leeway that was important to be able to find acceptable solutions through work on an international level. During the rounds of comments in the committee meeting many put forward absolute criteria for the fulfilment of the comments which confirms how the sharp fronts were cemented in. Standard Norway considered any further discussion useless for achieving consensus in the committee.

    10. In Standard Norways summing up of the status of the case after the committee meeting we emphasises the following issues;

  • In the committee there's a clear majority against making the OOXML a ISO/IEC-standard. Standard Norway though, must in its complete evaluation also consider the results of the formal hearing, and therefore seen together there is a majority of "yes"-votes. There's many more end users of document standard formats among those for, than among those against the standard.

  • There's a consensus that the standard proposal in any case must be improved, and Standard Norway considers this best can happen by OOXML becoming an ISO-standard now. A revision can start immediately in the ISO committee that is responsible for this standard, and Norway should be in the best position possible to initiate and participate actively in such revision work. (The ODF-standard has since it became an ISO-standard, already been the subject of several changes).

  • Standard Norway considers that ISO should critically evaluate the "fast-track" procedure. We think the work on OOXML would have been better served if it had been initiated as a new ISO-project. The problem though was that the proposer ECMA was in their full right to start the project as a "fast-track". Standard Norway is also in 2008 one of the 12 members that makes up the "Technical Management Board" (TMB) which is responsible for the standardisation work and the rules and procedures this should follow. We have in TMB already decided to discuss the experiences with the use of the "fast-track"-procedure based on the ISO/IEC 29500 process. This case will most likely be part of the TMB meeting the 3rd and 4th of June 2008.

  • ISO stands for International Organisation for Standardisation. As a member we are, in the same way as the members of our sister organisation IEC (International Electrotechnical Committee), duty bound to do our best to try to have those standardisation proposals we work on be accepted as ISO- and IEC-standards.
  • It is with this background that Standard Norway considers that the standards proposal ISO/IEC DIS 29500 Office Open XML, with comments that will now be incorporated into the document, can be accepted.

    This case has been very difficult and it's not an light decision Standard Norway has had to take. Above we have given our view of the case and the issues that led to the Standard Norway vote.

    Read also the press release "Norway say yes to the document format OOXML" that was published Friday 28th of Mars.

    Are there differences, I asked Nils?

    "Never the less was this procedure accepted as the appropriate method for handling the OOXML standard by ISO and IEC centrally in January 2008."

    This is not quite right. There is no "appropriate" meaning in the Norwegian text, it only say that ISO accepted that the fast track method could be used for OOXML. Also the year is 2007, not his 2008.

    "The editor of the document presented the proposals that became the basis for the BRM meeting. The rest was accepted or accepted with modifications."

    He dropped the "Two of our suggestions were refused," between those two sentences. Probably a mistake?

    Update 3: To help you understand what Taylor means that once BSI owns up to what it has done, then there will be a complaint filed, here's the BSI press release and an email that a reader just sent me, a response to his request to understand why the UK changed its vote at the last minute, which we have permission to publish:

    ---- Original Message ------------
    Subject: RE: no information re: dis 29500
    From: "Lucy Fulton" [redacted email]
    Date: Tue, April 1, 2008 12:34 pm
    To: [redacted email]


    Dear Mr Wright,

    Many thanks for your email.

    It is not BSI's policy to make public the details of how it votes on International Standards. BSI sent a delegation to the ballot resolution meeting which took place in Geneva in February 2008 and subsequently requested that its technical committee carry out a review of its position on ISO/IEC DIS 29500.

    The technical committee did so, made a consensus decision and advised BSI on its vote.

    This is the procedure with any international ballot.

    Best wishes,

    Lucy Fulton


    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote & Norway's Excuse | 268 comments | Create New Account
    Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
    I Find It Funny That....
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 01:57 PM EDT
    Hey, everybody! to the actual "rules" is a .pdf document instead of UhOhXML.
    Walk the walk, buddy.

    Dobre utka,
    The Blue Sky Ranger
    who is on lunch at work, won't log in, and can't try for the hat trick

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Apparent change of heart, indeed.
    Authored by: billyskank on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:01 PM EDT
    For they have not announced which way they voted, have they? Which seems very
    suspicious to me. As suspicious as ISO delaying their announcement, indeed. I am
    assuming that the reason is because they changed their vote, as everyone else
    seems to be assuming also. If so, I can't wait to find out why.

    It's not the software that's free; it's you.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    OT here
    Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:03 PM EDT
    Please make any links clickable.


    You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Corrections here
    Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:05 PM EDT
    s/said it wouldn't saying/said it wouldn't be saying/


    You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    News Picks commentary here
    Authored by: SpaceLifeForm on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:07 PM EDT
    Please note which article you are referencing in the subject line.


    You are being MICROattacked, from various angles, in a SOFT manner.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Stumbles on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:18 PM EDT
    I seriously doubt Patrick Durusau would admit to any "back

    You can tuna piano but you can't tune a fish.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • I wonder... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:17 PM EDT
      • I wonder... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 05:38 PM EDT
    Is the ECMA getting desperate in it's fight for legitimacy?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:19 PM EDT
    There is an interesting post byJan van den Beld at
    l where he tries to defend the ECMA and ISO with regard to the current OOXML

    He attempts to marginalize OOXML opponents by dividing the world up into two
    groups; Those who support standards and "a vocal few being so negative and
    vitriolic about the current ICT standardization system."

    While in a comment on Alex
    Brown states. "The rules, and the fate of the Fast Track process, and in
    the hands of the the ISO and IEC members of JTC 1. The Directives are currently
    undergoing a major review and reform process. My own personal view is that both
    the accelerated standards procedures (PAS and Fast Track) should be

    Interesting that Jan van den Beld would, I assume accidentally, lump the BRM
    convener in with the bad guys. It look like the ecma is getting sloppy as a
    result of the desperate fight for legitimacy.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: lordshipmayhem on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:20 PM EDT
    I find it suspicious that Microsoft has seen fit to triumph this ahead of the
    official announcement.

    I will be applying pressure on my Federal Government (Canada) to launch an
    immediate investigation into the ISO, to see if this kind of pressure has been
    applied without our notice on other "standards". I encourage others
    to do the same of their governments.

    Seeing as the ISO is not an American institution, this concept of a review could
    find fertile fields with both the Democrats and Republicans.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    "out of respect for the standards process"
    Authored by: bap on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:22 PM EDT
    Anybody else find it the ultimate in arrogance that Microsoft was holding off on
    announcing victory "out of respect for the standards process"
    considering what they did to the process in the first place?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Standards Norway handling of the OOXML voting in ISO
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:23 PM EDT
    Two things spring to mind:

    1. No matter how much one tries, you cannot polish sh*t. This is spin to a new
    level yet still as opaque as air.

    2. What is the Danish for "I have only followed orders"?

    It's at times like these I cross my fingers and hope the EU comes to the
    rescue...and fast-track like.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:25 PM EDT
    I have nothing to add other than MS owns ISO at the moment, and can own them
    any time they like, as far as I can tell. In the past they have stooped as far
    as need to get their way. They have done illegal deeds, been caught, tried in
    court and lost. Still it has worked, and they have not been caught enough times,
    or punished enough times, for the lesson to stick.

    Companies, groups, governments, can all be bought, and cheap if you know the
    correct decider to buy. You can even purchase a discussion, a blogger, and shill
    to post here and other places. But can all of these be bought fast enough for MS
    to reverse a backlash. I'm convinced personally that they made promises, but
    failed to put anything in writing, and do not plan on following through with the
    rewards for their would be toadies.

    Are we as stupid as MS needs us to be? As we as lazy as they need us to be?
    We shall see. But, in the end it takes a few to tango the ISO dance. All the
    players in this farce that voted 'Yes' when clearly their group coted 'No', and
    all those that tilted the game in favor of MS rather than fix OOXML, need to be
    avoided. Also ISO has no meaning from this point forward. Standards passed on
    their merit before this should stand, but for ISO there are two distinct times
    we will recall, before and after MS.

    I will always respect ISOBMS(ISO Before MS), but be cautious of ISOAMS(ISO
    after MS). Personally I will avoid companies and people that appear to have had
    a dishonest hand in this whole farce. Most likely they were used and foolish,
    and I don't need to deal with entities with those characteristics.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Pie today, pie tomorrow
    Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:49 PM EDT
    Interesting -- after the so-called "contradiction phase" the ISO
    Secretariat specifically stated any problems with conflict of standards should
    be handled at the voting stage. Now, the issue is closed and not open because
    ISO has ruled.

    So when do we have pie?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Is it just me...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:53 PM EDT
    ... or did the head of Standards Norway just admit, in writing, what went on?
    Did he just admit that he broke the rules to produce a "yes" vote
    against the will of the members?

    This "explanation" may not have been such a smart move...


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    I gather Microsoft doesn't even know when they look really, really bad.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:57 PM EDT
    PJ, they really don't care.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: DBLR on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 02:57 PM EDT
    There is an old saying you can’t turn cow dung in to ice cream!


    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is
    a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
    Benjamin Franklin.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Divide and conquer
    Authored by: overshoot on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:01 PM EDT
    I find it very interesting that various NBs (including Malaysia and Norway) have stated that as long as their comments were addressed they had to vote "approve."

    This strongly suggests a guaranteed way to game the system: crank out a spec with so many pages and so many errors that there is no possible way to enumerate them all. As a result, various groups (notably the British) divide up the work and each address the problem of enumerating as many as possible in the short time allotted.

    Likewise, at the BRM each NB only has time to bring up one or two issues and no time at all to carefully address them. The result is that the sponsor's resolutions are accepted by default.

    As a result, though, most of the NBs will leave many of their concerns out of their enumerated lists -- there are, after all, just too many. When it comes time for the final vote, SURPRISE! it turns out that there has been at least some response accepted to each of the NB's stated concerns -- therefore, by the "they answered our questions" rule, none of the NBs are allowed to disapprove, even though most of their objections were either not addressed satisfactorily or not addressed at all.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    If you tell a lie big enough
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:19 PM EDT
    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come
    to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can
    shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of
    the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its
    powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and
    thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    -- Joseph Goebbels --

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:26 PM EDT
    I think its a real disgrace that Microsoft can apparently game the system so
    publicly and with apparent impunity.

    What has happened to all the big companies that could have helped try to avoid
    this (like IBM for example).

    Also what happened to the backbone of so many countries NB´s ?

    Also what happened to the EU, surely its public enough by now that they have
    seen something??

    I think the only thing left is to make as many people as possible aware of the
    dirty tricks that have been involved in this ´Standard´ NOT!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    on what grounds would a UK complaint be made?
    Authored by: Alan Bell on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:42 PM EDT
    They have had a change of mind, but is this grounds for complaint? I don't think anything has been disclosed about how BSI made their decision, just this terse release saying they reached a consensus decision. As far as I am aware, nobody in IST/41 has spoken out about irregularities in the decision making process.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The anti-ODF answers are amusing
    Authored by: Peter Baker on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:44 PM EDT
    I've read through some of the defenses of the MSOOXML deficiencies, and there's
    a bit of a common approach - maybe from an MS memo or something, I don't know.

    It tends to start with "embracing" the problem, then extending it by
    pointing at some ODF deficiency and then the attempt is made to extinguish the
    nature of the complaint instead of answering it.

    The second common trend I noticed is that there is never a mention that ODF is a
    managed standard which has a formal, well defined and exercised process to
    adjust, improve and correct, whereas I'm still in the dark how MSOOXML will
    improve (it's not like it has had a good start - it's the first time I've seen
    type approval forced for the equivalent a car without brakes).

    Or, put another way: ODF is managed by a club where Microsoft could STILL get
    back the seat it left (the price being having to behave as a team member which
    seems to run counter to the corporate DNA), how exactly is MSOOXML going to
    allow any external input? If there's no clear answer I think the EU monopoly
    commission may see this as clear evidence that "an announcement not action
    maketh" - it's SMB all over again.

    However, they EU have already tried fining them - AFAIK not a penny has been
    paid. It may lead to next steps instead.

    = P =

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:46 PM EDT
    Well if they'd have put out a "OOXML has been confirmed as an ISO
    standard" press release under an April 1st heading, who'd have believed

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Some thoughts
    Authored by: sciamiko on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 04:05 PM EDT
    I've been following this saga distantly with increasing astonishment, and I'd
    like to see if I've got this right.

    ISO are an international body tasked with keeping an updated record of a number
    of standards. To do that they set the rules (directives) whereby the process of
    ratification of a standard occurs.

    ECMA are allowed a special dispensation to propose one of their own standards on
    a fast track to ISO standardisation. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with

    The fast track process is one of technically reviewing it to see whether it has
    significant overlap with other standards, leverages other standards, is
    adequately defined etc. None of this is intrinsically a bad thing either. BUT
    there is a way out at all stages to say that it does not pass some suitability

    This seems to be the first place where things did not go according to the
    rulebook laid out by ISO. At the BRM, it is still possible to say that the
    difficulties are too great and the fast track should be abandoned. As I
    understood the comments here, this option was never put to the delegates.

    But even so, this process is purely technical. The BRM delegates report back to
    their national bodies (NBs) who make the decision on whether to approve the
    standard for ISO. They can do that on whatever basis they wish, but since they
    are agents of nations, presumably they need to have the health of their own
    nation at heart. And stability and cost of implementation must figure
    prominently in their deliberations, which is why they have a technical side to
    attend the fast track meetings.

    From the comments I've seen so far, only New Zealand has stated clearly that it
    did so. All the others I've seen seem to find excuses in rules, in special
    pleading, in expediency, etc.

    So, if there are to be challenges, it should be to ISO concerning the conduct of
    the BRM, and to the NBs in each country separately to ask for justification
    relevant to their remits.

    That's how it looks to me. Is it anywhere near the mark?


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    formal press release - wait, what?
    Authored by: designerfx on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 04:21 PM EDT
    What is up with this part?

    5. To get a standard accepted a qualified majority of ISO-members is needed.
    Among the members that are part of the committee developing the standard, at
    least 2/3 must vote for the standard, while no more than 1/4 of all members
    voting must have voted against.

    As known Standard Norway decided to vote "no with comments" even
    though the result of our national hearing showed a clear majority for a
    "yes"-vote. Thus our decision was to be considered a conditioned yes,
    something we expressed in our press release 31st of August 2007. The basis of
    Standard Norway decision was that it was important to get an improvement of the
    standards proposal, in line with what the mirror committee expressed and the
    mechanisms for voting "no with comments".

    I thought Norway had announced that 3/4 completely refused, other than Microsoft
    owned vendors? Isn't this a blatant lie?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why ISV and business partners helped Microsoft?
    Authored by: PolR on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 04:23 PM EDT
    We have seen that Microsoft wields lots of power. Why did ISV and business partners get along? There is a document from Comes vs Microsoft that seems to give us Microsoft's own secret recipe for exerting power. It has already been published on Groklaw. This is very useful because if you are investigating irregularities and have an idea of how you do it, you can figure out what are the right questions to ask and who to ask them.

    This document contains a presentation titles "Power Evangelism". The word "Power" looks like hyperbole. It is meant literally. This presentation explains how Microsoft exerts power on ISV.

    First take a look at the slide titled The Role of ISVs:

    • Pawns in the struggle
    • Today's allies; tomorrow -- who knows?
      • We may move into their markets
      • They may move into ours
    • Valuable pawns
      • We can't win without 'em
      • Must take good care of them
    • Can't let 'em feel like pawns
      • Treat them with respect (as you use them)
    Does this seem relevant to an investigation on irregularities? If not then look at the subtitle of the next slide: Getting ISVs to Do What You Want.

    The detail on how to do that is in the portion of the presentation titled "Power and How to Use It". It is so interesting, I will quote it in its entirety.

    YOU have POWER!

    • Power
      • The ability to GET THINGS DONE
    • Source of Power
      • The ability to control the distribution of valuable resources
    • Exchange of Resources

    Exchange of Resources

    • Trading favors
      • "if you help me, I'll help you"
      • ALWAYS return favors
      • NEVER work with someone who has failed to return a favor
    • Help people!
      • Then they owe you a favor in return
    • You have MANY resources

    What Does the ISV Want?

    • Success
      • Financial
      • Social/Status
      • Other
    • Corporate vs. Personal
      • Stock price vs. salary
      • Long-term vs. short term
      • Good-for-product vs. good-for-resume
    • Identify the decision-maker's wants
      • Then show how your platform fulfills those wants


    • Information
      • The ultimate resource
    • Specifications
    • Betas
    • SDKs
    • Free Products
    • Knowledge


    • Job placement
      • people looking for jobs
      • ISVs looking for candidates
    • Exposure
      • Publications
      • Conferences
      • Seminars

    (yes, you have still more resources)

    • Cash
    • Co-marketing
    • Contracts
    • Technical support
    • Sales Force
    • Solution Providers
    • Conferences

    (an endless supply)

    • Exclusive events
    • T-shirts
    • Newsletter
    • Developers Group
    • Consultants group
    • Conferences
    • Create your own resources!


    • You set the standard
    • You have tremendous power
    • Use it!
    • Make things happen!
    • Kick some ISV butt!
    • Take no prisoners!
    • Windows, Windows, Windows!

    The pattern is clear. Every time Microsoft does something for the ISV, it considers it is a favor. They expect the ISV to return the favor, otherwise they will no longer help the ISV.

    The top favor Microsoft can do is provide information, like specifications, betas and SDKs. So if Microsoft ask an ISV to support them in a standard committee, the ISV has better to help, otherwise the supply of these resources will dry out. No ISV can function without access to Microsoft resources. They just can't refuse.

    The lesson to investigators is there won't always be a money trail. Microsoft has other very compelling sources of power.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    And what of Germany?
    Authored by: renard on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 04:27 PM EDT
    Germany chair's claim that Yes could not be changed to No was a clear violation
    of the rules.

    Surely someone will see fit to challenge this one?


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why the higher ups seems to back Microsoft?
    Authored by: PolR on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 04:53 PM EDT
    Ever wondered why recommendations done at the technical level are so often over turned by the higher ups? There is a document from Comes vs Microsoft that may give us a clue. This is the same document I mentioned in my other post above. The presentation "Power Evangelism" includes a section on something called "Mind Control". Here is how it works:
    Mind Control

    • To control mental output, to have to control mental input
    • Take control of the channels by which developers receive information
    • Then they can only think about the things you tell them
    • Thus, you control mindshare
    Then the presentation proceeds to explain how each information channel can be taken control of: conferences, tradeshows, magazines, books and consultants. They have a page on on-line Forums where we recognize astro-turfing.

    They explicitly encourage to "infiltrate and subvert" independent conferences and magazines. No joke, they really use these words. I guess this could be applied to other entities as well.

    This presentation is about mind control of ISVs, but the same techniques would work on executives. If someone overturns a technical committee decision, ask where he got his information from. If all channels that he uses have been under Microsoft's control, he will view the world through Microsoft (TM) pink colored glasses and can't make a decision that doesn't favor Microsoft.

    I am stricken by how difficult taking complete control of all communication channels might be. This technique probably doesn't need to be leak proof to be effective. Some source of alternative vision must always be available somewhere. This gives a new perspective to the slime tactics PJ so often complain about. They must want to marginalize the opposition to make sure it is either not heard (best) or not believed when heard. A successful slime would do that.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Training material
    Authored by: PolR on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 05:08 PM EDT
    I have posted teo comments above on the same court document from Comes vs Microsoft. It strike me that this looks suspiciously like training material. It would mean that there were (are?) people at Microsoft that are trained in doing the things described in this document.

    The topic of a training must be a business practice sufficiently frequent to justify the training. The number of persons being trained must be indicative of how frequent these these practices are. I hope future anti-trust investigations will look into these things. It may help them prove the difference between a pattern of repeat behavior and a one-time event.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Cult - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 09:30 AM EDT
    Equal standards - Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 05:11 PM EDT
    "...ODF and OOXML are by many considered to be equal document

    Lets see. One can be openly implemented, the other can not.

    Or, one is fully specified, the other has things like "line spacing like MS
    Word...whatever..." or bad leap year calculations because that is their
    "...accepted standard..."

    Huh? What??

    There are three accepted standards for electronic document interchange. X12
    Odette, and Edifact. Each was developed over the long haul with input from
    multiple of sources. There are mandated elements and optional elements in both.
    Many times it is one of the trading partners, frequently the customer, which
    decides which if any optional elements shall be included in the document.

    There were good solid reasons for developing each standard.

    But the excuses for fast tracking the Microsoft pseudo specification for OOXML
    can only leave one gasping.

    It is not a standard that will ever be implemented. No one is going to care
    about fixing the problems now!

    The only way to build an application that will read and write documents that are
    compatible with Microsoft programs is to reverse engineer the garbage foisted on
    the public!

    I know, how about the EU require Open and Firefox to be pre-installed
    on every machine that carries windows? What do you suppose is going to happen
    when the six month "trial" version of Microsoft Office expires? Will
    the sheep go out and spend a hundred and fifty on purchasing Office, or will
    they try that other office product they found on their machine? (I would say
    the US Justice Department, but they are run by an adminstration that...., oh
    right, no political statements on Groklaw. My apologies.)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    more work needed - Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 05:20 PM EDT
    "Even the folks voting to approve it admit it still needs a lot of

    What justification is there for spending a second more time on fixing the
    specification? Microsoft will ignore it, regardless of what happpens!!!!

    There is no sense in doing anything with it, since the only way to develop
    software that will inter-operate with MS file formats is to reverse engineer the

    So why waste money on a specification when the whole purpose of getting the
    specification approved is so Microsoft can pretend MS Word is a standard.
    They've got their marketing brochures printed, they are all done!!!!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Fear factor
    Authored by: ozbird on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 05:21 PM EDT
    I find it remarkable that the BSI changed their vote even after John Pugh, MP, wrote directly to the head of BSI making it clear that, in his opinion at least, voting for OOXML was not in the national interest of the UK - or anyone other nation.

    He also tabled a PQ (parliamentary question?) seeking reassurance that the BSI would not change their position on OOXML.
    I look forward to the follow up questions (and perhaps answers) from John asking for an explanation to BSI's change of heart.

    Suffice to say the "BSI" probably doesn't stand for "British Standards Institute" any more...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Let's submit a new Standard
    Authored by: seraph_jeffery on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 06:01 PM EDT
    I believe that we should fast-track a new International Standard for defining
    measurements, to compete with the SI system. Let's go back to the old
    "English System" and come up with some new units - like for gasoline
    efficiency we could use "furlongs/peck." We already have
    "K/L" and "mpg," so what's the problem with a third? There
    should be no problem since they both measure the same liquid items, and they ARE
    interchangeable with the proper conversions... you just can't use them together.
    And, I'm sure the British would love to have their historic heritage honored in
    this way. Oh, and the Standard unit of type face should be
    "pixels/barleycorn." That sounds good.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Dearest ISO
    Authored by: SirHumphrey on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 06:15 PM EDT
    Dearest ISO:

    I have been requested by the North American LockIn Vendor Company to
    contact you for assistance in resolving a matter. The North American LockIn
    Vendor Company has recently produced a large and fractured document that no-one
    can understand, that they will never implement the contents of, and which
    long-haired smellies object to. The legitimisation of such a document will
    immediately produced moneys equalling US$40,000,000 per National Body. The North
    American LockIn Vendor Company is desirous of legitimisation in other parts of
    the world, however, because of certain objections of the long-haired smellies,
    it is unable to move these funds to another region.

    You assistance is requested as a non-long-haired smellies to assist the
    North American LockIn Vendor Company, and also there well payded servants, in
    expeditiously legitimizing these incomprehensible document. If the
    legitimizaation can be transferred to your name, through your nominated shills,
    then you can control the proceedings as directed by the North American LockIn
    Vendor Company. In exchange for your accomodating services, the North American
    LockIn Vendor Company would agree to allow you to retain control of this
    document and ALL mainteneance requirements.

    However, to be a legitimate transferee of these incomprehensible
    documents according to NorthAmerican LockIn Vendor Company law, you must
    presently be a receiver of at least US$100,000 in a Treasury which is regulated
    by the North American LockIn Vendor Company.

    If it will be possible for you to assist us, we would be most grateful.
    We suggest that you meet with us in person in private, and that during your
    visit I introduce you to the representatives of the North American LockIn Vendor
    Company, as well as with certain officials of the Treasury.

    Please call me at your earliest convenience at 1 800 $$$$ $%%$. Time is
    of the essence in this matter; very quickly the long-haired smellies will
    realize that the North American LockIn Vendor Company is fast-tracking these
    incomprehensible document, and attempt to levy certain ethics up on it.

    Yours truly, Doug Mahughbo.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It's there - approved :-(
    Authored by: Peter Baker on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 07:09 PM EDT
    It just came up on Slashdot, and here's the PDF of it. It's a sad day indeed, but the repercussions may be extensive.

    Let's hope so.

    = P =

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    So what should be done now?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 07:50 PM EDT
    Unless something rather unusual comes up in the next few hours, it seems that
    ISO will bless OOXML.

    So what should be done now?

    Even if OOXML had lost the fast-track bid, we would have faced MS pushing OOXML
    as an official ECMA standard, which would allow those who are only interested in
    checking off the boxes to check the "has published standard" box.
    Allowing MS to point to ISO acceptance makes that only a little easier for the

    So we always were facing a long struggle; its just a little harder now.

    So, I repeat, what should be done now?

    Should we start referring to OOXML as the April Fool's Standard, in honor of the
    day MS and ECMA claimed passage? That would be fun, and sometimes ridiculing
    something to the extent that it makes it a laughingstock is an effective way to
    kill it. I think that wouldn't be effective in this case.

    Should we continue to expose the scandalous events involved with the OOXML saga?
    Certainly. I don't expect that will result in reversing the decision, but such
    actions should not go unprotested.

    Should we keep track of the various officials who seem clearly to have stacked
    the deck, bent rules, maybe even broke rules, to give MS the win? Probably,
    although I'm not sure what we'll be able to use that information for. Still, we
    should keep watch on what they are doing.

    What I think we should do is prepare and polish reasons to present to bodies who
    are deciding on standards for document storage in their countries, companies, or
    whatever, that show why ODF is a wiser choice than OOXML, and, more important,
    find and develop ways to get that message heard.

    I don't need to explain what those reasons are here -- you all know them. We
    need to develop and polish them so that they are persuasive to the kind of
    people involved in such decision-making (not just the technologists, but the
    political types who often overrule them), even in the face of severe
    arm-twisting by MS. We need to gain access to the people who make those
    decisions in order to have a chance to make the arguments. We need people who
    are credible to those decision makers to carry the message to them.

    How can this be done? Who organizes it? I don't know that. But it seems to me
    that this is necessary. There must be people who already are trying to do this,
    but I'll bet they are individuals working in isolation. Finding a way to pull
    those efforts together would be a possible way to start. I think it would have
    to involve more than just that, but I think that would develop as the work goes

    Continuing to improve the applications that support ODF clearly needs to be
    done, too, but that's been going on and I have no doubt it will continue. There
    might be other things that should be done, too, though I don't have any thoughts
    on what the other things might be.

    Inertia is a big factor in what people choose. For the moment, it is far easier
    for people to choose MS, even if they theoretically agree that lock-in isn't so
    good, costs are high, etc. That's probably part of the reason so many people
    were willing to tilt the table in favor of OOXML. Turning them away from MS
    will be hard. It won't be done overnight, but we can make progress step by

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Maybe the personal ads have it right...
    Authored by: itchytweed on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 07:59 PM EDT
    I sometimes use the tagline "ISO ISO 3103" at the end of emails. Does
    the ISO have a defined standard on how this farce is supposed to work and if so,
    what is the number? Of course, the first part of the tagline means "In
    Search Of". Maybe I need to change the digits to the appropriate number of
    this process to reflect the current task that lies ahead of the ISO.

    -- Itchytweed

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 08:50 PM EDT
    Keep up the good reporting PJ. However, M$ has a serious shell game potential
    with OpenXML. Add to it Yahoo, etc. Result, interoperate with M$ and pay a
    tax, or lose. Plus M$ gets a lock-in to programs, think web enabled to deal
    with stuff.
    It would really help your reporting if you connected the dots, and made a case
    for how SERIOUS the coming shell games are. Please report/have a constant
    section on.
    M$ has some good top level games coming. Kudos M$, while I respect your chess
    moves, I really hope you eat the poisioned pawn, and hope the others play the
    game better, because they just might have to.
    M$, hate em like hell, but there sure is good games going on there as well.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Standards games
    Authored by: reiisi on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 09:31 PM EDT
    Many have commented on this, but I haven't seen it laid out clearly. (Maybe
    I've missed something.)

    Standards are supposed to be distilled out of extant best practices. Fast track

    standards really should not exist, but they in fact exist precisely for cases
    ODF. Sort of.

    ODF is considered by many to be too far ahead of the curve. (I have concerns
    about this, myself.) It is not so much a distillation of best practices as an
    amalgamation of best practices into a new structure. It is the new structure
    that is causing concern. Microsoft played to those concerns when they
    claimed (falsely) that there were no implementations of ODF.

    We have a default standard in Microsoft's document formats. Sort of. So the
    fast track was specifically to protect the existing default standard. From the
    outset. That is why the rules seem so unfair.

    Now you and I and most of us here can see lots of holes in the logic there.
    But the game really was over, as far as whether MSOOXML would be approved
    or not, as soon as Microsoft convinced ISO to start the fast track process.

    I'd lay out the holes in the logic, but I have pressing business of my own.
    (And I'm not really trained at the legalese.) Could I suggest, PJ, that we have

    an article where we as a community find the holes in the logic and explain
    them? Then we could present the whole thing to the ISO and to the US Justice
    department at the appropriate time.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    So, what was the UK's consensus???
    Authored by: gfim on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 09:56 PM EDT
    It seems very suspicious to me that both the BSI press release:
    IST/41, the BSI technical committee which mirrors ISO/IEC JTC1/SC 34, reached a consensus decision on behalf of the UK following its full technical evaluation of the draft international standard, ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML (ECMA 376).
    and the email from Lucy Fulton:
    The technical committee did so, made a consensus decision and advised BSI on its vote.
    both mention a consensus, but avoid saying what that consensus was. Could it be that they had a consensus of "disapprove" but the UK voted "approve" anyway? Can anybody confirm what the committee agreed upon?


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Multi-nationals aren't going to get irritated?
    Authored by: m0nkyman on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 10:14 PM EDT
    One thing that's been bothering me through all this. Sure Microsoft is a big
    company, but isn't their gaming of ISO going to irritate companies that actually
    understand and appreciate the role of the ISO? I'm thinking of the really big
    companies, like the oil & gas giants who really do rely on ISO standards.
    Microsoft is big, but isn't it taking a risk of alienating the really big
    players if it hurts the credibility of a standards organization that is relied
    upon? And if they do get irritated, what will they do about it?

    Just thinking aloud...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    ISO 14708-2:2005
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 10:40 PM EDT
    As these people who saw nothing really wrong with corrupting the process to push
    thorugh OOXML get older, a lot of them will need to rely on the equiment that
    this standard covers, heart pacemakers. Would it not be ironic if it too was
    forced through the process by a single manufacturer just trying to grab or
    maintain nothing but market share.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    This is a bad joke...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 11:44 PM EDT
    I wish I could say that I thought this was a bad April Fool's joke, but I saw it coming :(

    As a matter of fact, when I wrote up my April Fool's jokes, I had the ISO rejecting OOXML and berating people for not giving them enough credit. After all, isn't it obvous that they should reject such a badly flawed standard?

    Actually, though, if there are formal complaints about the vote, doesn't that mean that they should hold off approving OOXML? Or maybe what I mean is would they actually put it on hold? Because knowing them, they'll just accept it as a standard and make the entire complaint process meaningless. Then the complaints get dismissed, and if ever asked about them, Microsoft just says "they were dismissed" without bothering to explain why...

    I wish I were being pessimistic instead of realistic about that, too :(

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    Open letter to NBs that approved OOXML
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 01:16 AM EDT
    Reading the JTC1 rules it is so obvious how countries had to vote. My point is that 100% of YES-voting NBs did the wrong thing. I wrote a letter to one of these NBs that I later generalized it to publish in my blog. Funny how Rick Jolliffe replyied fast (as a comment to the post) with very shallow arguments.

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    Still seething after all this time.
    Authored by: Ian Al on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 04:59 AM EDT
    However, I am beginning to see an upside.
    Robertson said that Microsoft will begin work on an Open XML implementation road map for implementation at an as-yet unknown time. He noted that the ISO is now responsible for the file format and must finalize the standard specifications. He expected the organization's work to be complete by the end of this year
    What the free world needs now, as a matter of urgency, is a test-suite for ODF. Then the various vendors/distributors of ODF implementations like Sun, IBM and can respond to any tenders for software implementing international standards for document formats and can offer the test suite for tender evaluation. In any instance where tendering is regulated, as in most government procurements, larger business procurement throughout the EU and companies with shareholders, then any attempt by a Microsoft vendor to address a tender with a claim of OOXML compliance can immediately be removed from the list of compliant companies because they have no test suite and they have no ISO compliant product.

    I could see Microsoft being stymied for many years due to the impossibility of doing anything useful (to users and procurers) with OOXML. I don't think an independant test suite for OOXML is technically and legally possible and I doubt Microsoft's ability to do it any time soon.

    So, for many years into the future the whole world and ISO will be regaled with Microsoft being unceremoniously dumped from government and business compliant tenderer lists and will be reminded that ISO published a document format standard that could not be implemented by either the company that produced it or the biggest, most-innovative software company in the world.

    If Microsoft had continued to, just, play the market leader, the de facto standard and the FUD cards they could well have got away with it and continued to dominate. It is only because they insisted on adding the ISO standard card that they have played fast and loose with the double-barrelled footgun.

    My mood has brightened.

    Ian Al

    When nothing else makes sense, use Linux.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Well... It has been approved, officially.
    Authored by: nvanevski on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 07:09 AM EDT
    Here is the story. Nothing to do with April fools, I'm afraid.

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    My complaint against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: scav on Wednesday, April 02 2008 @ 08:45 AM EDT
    It would do no good to say the BSI must be morons not to see how appallingly,
    unusably bad OOXML is as a draft specification, far less an international
    standard. It would be childish.

    I have no evidence that anyone in the BSI has been bought or illegally pressured
    to vote the way they did. So to say so would be libel.

    Hanlon's Razor deserts me here, because both stupidity and malice are viable
    explanations, but not a practical argument against the BSI vote.

    My complaint then, is that they have been worse than stupid, worse than
    malicious. They have been intellectually dishonest.

    To a scientist or engineer, that's a deadly indictment. Pleading stupidity or
    corruption would almost be preferable.

    The reasons for that dishonesty, like future professional opinions of those
    members of the BSI, are no longer relevant.

    The emperor, undaunted by the judge's ruling that he had no clothes, pressed on
    with his siege of Antarctica, hoping to extort tribute from the penguins.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Expect a 2nd Official Complaint -- Against UK's OOXML Vote
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 03 2008 @ 01:43 AM EDT
    I found it very suspicious. Alex Brown's company now consults the British Library, a known Microsoft OOXML proxy. Did that make him vote yes @ BSI and invent new BRM meeting rules?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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