Here's the scoop from Les Echos.fr on France's sudden change from its No vote to Abstain. Microsoft France's President Eric Boustouller sent AFNOR a letter [PDF] in French, of course. He tells a tale about OOXML and ODF progressing side by side and how if OOXML is approved, a group will be working hard to make the two more interoperable. Attached was a an HP statement of support for OOXML. HP sings the same song. And AFNOR?
"A la lumière des contributions et des commentaires, il nous est apparu qu'une "Désapprobation" n'était plus justifiée. Pour autant, il demeure encore des incertitudes sur les textes et les engagements, ce qui nous a conduit à nous prononcer par une "Abstention"", a expliqué dans un message électronique samedi Tony Hittema, directeur technique de l'Afnor.
That's saying that in light of the new information, it seemed to them that disapprove was not justified. But neither was a Yes vote, because there remain issues with OOXML. So that's why they did it.
Here's the HP statement:
HP Position Statement on Standardization of Office Document Formats
Hewlett-Packard Company is in favor of standards for office document formats, including the Office Open XML (OOXML) and Open Document Format (ODF) standards. We believe that the two standards will co-exist interoperably, and that customers should have the opportunity to select the standards which best fit their needs.
HP believes that the international standardization process is working. This process has already significantly improved the OOXML specification and additional evolution of it will take place under control of the global community if the specification is ratified by ISO/IEC JTC 1.
In the current vote on OOXML at JTC 1, HP is supporting an affirmative vote in those national standards bodies in which HP is active.
Could it be any more cynical? So, now we know that HP is not supportive of Linux and FOSS as we thought. Knock me over with a feather. So, they got them to change on the basis of promises for the future. I'm sure there's more to the story, of course.
Here is the part about HP in French:
La dernière contribution adressée par Eric Boustouller, Pdg France de Microsoft, (cf ci-dessous) ainsi qu'un soutien de la société Hewlett-Packard ont changé le vote de la direction générale de la modernisation de l'Etat (DGME) et de la direction générale des Entreprises (DGE). "On a pu voir les limites d'une procédure accélérée dans un dossier aussi complexe", a reconnu Olivier Peyrat, directeur général de l'Afnor. Dans son courrier daté de vendredi soir, Eric Boustouller propose la création d'un groupe de travail qui "sera en charge de l'harmonisation pour aboutir a une meilleure interopérabilité des deux standards ouverts et distincts Open XML et ODF".
It says HP helped turn the tide, that and the Microsoft promise that there would be a working group set up to fix OOXML. How about the Microsoft OSP? Anybody planning to fix that so FOSS is not strangled to death with patents? No. Really.
Update: Here's an odd announcement:
Nicolas Sarkozy will personally announce in a few days the creation of a
brand new great public entity that will encapsulates the strength of the
French Industry in the field of Open-Source software.
The project - named “Opération Lafayette” - is thought to include Marc
Fleury (previously CEO of JBoss) as its brand new CEO. People close to
the source believe the initial list of companies will include : XWIKI
(collaboration solutions), TALEND (Open Data Solutions), NUXEO (ECM),
MANDRIVA (Operating System), EXOPLATFORM (portal & WebOS), EBM
WEBSOURCING (enterprise service bus) and BULL (IT services).