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:
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.
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.
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
* Sykehuset Asker og Bærum HF
* Ullevål Universitetssykehus
* IT Partner Harstad
* Oslo Datasenter
* Umoe IKT
* Active Templates
* Avanade Norge
* Ementor Norge
* Fønix Data
* Holte byggsafe
* IT Partner Bodø
* IT Partner Møre
* IT Partner Tromsø
* Jensen Consulting
* Norsk Data Senter
* Osiris Data
* Ravenholm Computing
* RB Datatjenester
* Systempartner Sør
* Umoe Consulting
At least there were no letters from dead people.