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OOXML News From Denmark
Friday, August 31 2007 @ 12:43 AM EDT

I have the latest news from Denmark, where Groklaw member elhaard tells me that the recent news about irregularities in the OOXML voting process in Sweden has caused a reaction now in Denmark. It appears that pressure was put on partners there as well, although Microsoft denies that was the intent. I'll let elhaard tell you about it. He has translated some bits from articles in the press for us.

Before you read them though, I thought this article by Stephen Walli, "Microsoft's Failures with the OOXML Standard, puts it all into context:
The ISO "fast track" vote on approval of Microsoft's OOXML document specification happens next Monday (2 Sep.), and news is breaking fast and furious as various countries report out early....

Perhaps the most disheartening failure however is the way Microsoft has abused the machine that is the world's standards development organizations. ...Microsoft is pushing organizational rules to the breaking point, ballot stuffing and buying its way to a win at ISO....

The sad part is that even if the ISO vote actually goes in Microsoft's favour, it still won't matter. It buys them a few years of market ignorance at best. This entire two year event is one for the standards text books on how not to respond to a business threatening standard. In the end, Microsoft will need to implement ODF natively. They don't know it yet, nor do they understand why, but it is just a matter of time.

And with that introduction, here's the latest from Denmark:

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

Dear PJ:

Just to let you know that the news from Sweden have shaken thing up in Denmark, too. According to this article, at least one company in Denmark was pressed by Microsoft to participate in Dansk Standard's meetings on OOXML.

1. "Microsoft pressured me in OOXML case", by Torben R. Simonsen:

Even though Microsoft denies having put pressure on partners to get them involved in the OOXML debate, some partners have experienced pressure from the software giant anyway....

A source, who wishes to remain anonymous, informs Version2, that he experienced Microsoft strongly trying to control the process. He denies that bribe was involved, but his Microsoft contact early on brought a certain form on the table, that the partner was to send to Dansk Standard. According to the source, the Microsoft contact repeatedly encouraged sending in the form....

"If I had not sent in a positive comment, it would have had consequences for our relations with Microsoft", he says. Our source points to e.g. leads, support and seminars as areas that might be jeopardized if "he did not behave".

2. Also, a Danish MP has raised a question in Parliament to our minister of science and to our minister of commerce whether the government has tried to influence Dansk Standard:

Has the government tried to influence Dansk Standard's position on whether OOXML should be made an international standard under ISO? IT spokesman for Dansk Folkeparti, Morten Messerschmidt, wants science minister Helge Sander's answer to that question.

Morten Messerschmidt bases his question on that a series of technical questions have been raised about whether OOXML meets the demands for interoperability.

As it is Dansk Standard (DS) who is to give the Danish recommendation -- based on the recommendation of the document sub-committee of DS -- it is important to the IT spokesman that it is the purely technical grounds that will be decisive for DS's recommendation to ISO and not other, political or economic grounds.

"For the inquirer, it is crucial that Dansk Standard makes its decision on a technical basis in total independence -- from political as well as economical interests. Interoperability is in itself a substantial goal, and thus the decision should not be influenced from the outside", Morten Messerschmidt writes in his reason for the question.

He especially wants to know whether there have been any communications between government, especially Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Science, and Dansk Standard.

3. Question in Parliament, from the Parliament homepage:

Question no. S 5891

To the minister of commerce (Bendt Bendtsen (Conservative)). (August 30th, 07) by: Morten Messerschmidt (Dansk Folkeparti)

Question in full:

In connection with the ongoing ISO approval of MS-XML, has there been any contact between the government and Dansk Standard?

Reason:

As it is known, Dansk Standard will in the near future give Denmark's recommendation on whether MS-XML can be ISO approved. In this context, a series of questions have been raised about whether this standards meets the demands for interoperability. In the Danish model - as opposed to e.g. Sweden and other contries - it is Dansk Standard that must make the decision about what Denmark's vote will be.

For the inquirer, it is crucial that Dansk Standard makes its decision on a technical basis in total independance -- of as well political as economical interests. Interoperability is in itself a substantial goal, and thus the decision should not be influenced from the outside.

On this basis, the inquirer pleads for information about whether there have been any communication between the ministries of government, especially the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Science, and Dansk Standard in connection with the future decision.


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