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Microsoft Files Complaint About India's No Vote on OOXML - Updated 2Xs
Wednesday, March 26 2008 @ 11:03 AM EDT

Microsoft has filed a complaint about the OOXML disapprove vote in India, according to a report on Open Source India by Venkatesh Hariharan:
At the meeting held on 20th March 2008, we were informed that Microsoft has complained to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and to the apex office of the country about the constitution of the committee and also cast aspersions on the impartiality of the chairperson of LITD15, Mrs. Neeta Verma. The chairperson was furious and offered to step down from her post. She pointed out that the committee has met numerous times and Microsoft never brought this issue up in front of the committee nor did they check the facts with her or her organization before complaining to the apex office....

Mrs. Verma was persuaded to stay back only after all the other members requested her to stay. After that, Dr. Arora of CSI displayed great statesmanship by asking the Microsoft representative if Microsoft would like to withdraw its complaint. Sadly, the Microsoft representative said that it cannot be withdrawn because it was sent by his senior or some similar reason. The Wipro representative then chimed in and tried to stall the vote by saying that he did not believe that the committee has not been able to apply its mind to the subject and should therefore abstain from voting on this issue! For those of us who have been engaged in this issue from the very beginning (as compared to the software exporters who put in cameo, guest appearances and contributed very little to discussing technical issues) this was obviously not acceptable.

I am just amazed and shocked by the depths to which Microsoft is willing to descend.

What is interesting is that he says anyone can request the audio of the meeting.

Here's that part:

Some of the most respected academic institutions (IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IISc, ISI Kolkatta and IIM Ahmedabad) besides several government organizations were part of this committee and I have no doubt that they will wholeheartedly agree with my opinion. I would also like to point out that the academia and government bodies have comprehensively voted against OOXML after spending more than a year reviewing it. Doubters who are still not satisfied can verify the transparency of these meetings by requesting recordings of the meetings from the Bureau of Indian Standards and anyone under the Right to Information Act.

To cite just one example, a four-member committee at IIT Bombay spent countless hours reviewing OOXML before voting against the proposal due to its technical flaws. The only group to vote in favor of OOXML was the software exports group and that too on the basis of “support for multiple standards,” an argument which had no relevance because the committee was asked to review OOXML on technical merits and national interest.

Considering the fact that some of the finest technical minds in the country have spent more than a year reviewing OOXML before India finally voted No, I feel that Microsoft's complaint is a great disservice to the committee, its chairperson and the Bureau of Indian Standards. For those who are interested, this is how the committee voted on the question, "Should India change its NO vote on OOXML?"

1. National Informatics Center - NO
2. Center for Development of Advanced Computing - NO
3. Computer Society of India - NO
4. Department of IT - NO
5. IBM - NO
6. Institute for Electronic Governance - Absent
7. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - NO
8. Indian Institute of Science - NO
9. Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi - NO
10. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay - NO
11. Infosys - YES
12. Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkatta - NO
13. Manufacturers Association of IT - Abstain
14. Microsoft - YES
15. National Association of Software and Services Companies - YES
16. National Institute of Smart Governance - Absent
17. Reserve Bank of India - Absent
18. Red Hat - No
19. Standardization Testing and Quality Certification Directorate - NO
20. Sun - NO
21. Tata Computer Services - YES
22. Wipro - YES (for changing India's vote from NO to Abstain)

So, I am thinking that in each country someone residing there could find out if there is a similar law that would make it possible to get the audio. Now *that* would be fascinating, indeed. I'll gladly make them available if you get them.

By the time we are done with this OOXML farce, the whole world will know -- regardless of the outcome -- that the world has voted No Consensus on this underdone format and that the only way to get it approved was through power moves. That somewhat takes away from any win, don't you think, even if they can achieve it? It's not like they are doing it in the dark. People can see them.

And even if they do get it approved by hook or by crook, the world will have seen that a great many technically skilled people think it was a grave mistake to approve it. Why don't they just put it on the regular track and fix it, I wonder?

As for Patrick Durusau's latest piece of work [PDF], you can find a fine answer by Sander Marechal here. I think the answer to his first point, that allegedly the world will "lose an open and international forum for further work on DIS 29500" -- is answered by the above. If OOXML fails on the Fast Track, then it can be submitted on the regular track, which takes a bit longer, but it gives the national bodies time to actually discuss everything and get it all technically fixed. Nothing will fix the intellectual property issues but a change in the Microsoft OSP, of course, but there's no reason that can't happen. It certainly should happen before it gets approved or Microsoft's chief competition will be shut out from using this god-forsaken format.

Update: By the way, here's confirmation on the Cuba disapprove vote:

La Oficina Nacional de Normalización de Cuba (NC) que representa al país ante la Organización Internacional de Normalización ISO (International Organization for Standardization) e IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) informa a todas las partes interesadas en los temas informáticos, así como a todos los usuarios de las páginas Web de dichas organizaciones y otras vinculadas a las tecnologías de la información que el voto de Cuba sobre el referido proyecto de Norma Internacional es de DESAPROBACIÓN (2007-08-31, 2008-03-20), el cual se sustenta en los comentarios y argumentos que siguen, los cuales han sido presentados al Secretariado Central de la ISO siguiendo los trámites oficiales establecidos en los procedimientos que rige la votación sobre los proyectos de Normas Internacionales.

This confirms that No was the original vote by Cuba, as well as its vote this time. I also hear Canada has voted No, as well.

Update: Now word comes in that Romania is sticking to its Yes vote.


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