Microsoft’s Open Office XML approved as international standard amidst voting irregularities claims?

“Microsoft looks almost certain to have got its Office Open XML (OOXML) file format passed as an international standard but the ballot has been tarnished by accusations of voting irregularities,” Kelly Fiveash reports for Channel Register.

“There’s no official word as yet from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), the body responsible for overseeing the ballot, but according to many observers that have been closely following the process, Microsoft appears to have secured enough votes at its second time of trying,” Fiveash reports.

“However, a number of delegates from the 87 national standards groups have been loudly complaining about alleged heavy-handed tactics and misdeeds in the voting process,” Fiveash reports. “Groklaw reports grumbles coming out of Norway and Poland where claims of irregularities have been voiced and there’s been talk of very close votes in Croatia and Germany.”

Full article here.

Groklaw reports:

If Microsoft gets this OOXML format “approved”, it will be by irregularities in the voting, it seems. Here’s more on what happened in Germany and a report on what is being called a scandal in Norway. And another odd process in Croatia.
If you can read German, here’s the story on what happened there. For those who can’t, when they went to vote, they were not allowed to vote disapprove, so the choice was to approve or to abstain. It was a tie, 6:6, which means no consensus. So under the rules I’ve read, that would have meant that they should send a vote of Abstain.

But surprise, surprise!! A solution helpful to Microsoft: the representative from DIN decided to cast a vote, which isn’t the process. DIN isn’t supposed to vote, because it’s supposed to advise. But this, they rationalized, was a vote not about whether to accept OOXML on the basis of *technical* issues, but whether to accept the approval suggestion of the technical committee. So DIN voted to accept DIN’s suggestion. Hence Germany ends up in the Approve column. I know. No doubt there will be objections filed.

Norway’s at least as bad. Here’s an article from Norway, and the translation of the title of the article is, “Scandal in Standards Norway. I didn’t write that headline. They did. And here’s why. The article says there should be an investigation of the irregularities there, because while there were only two votes to approve, from Microsoft and a business partner, Statoilhydro, and all the others voted no, 21 votes, they approved anyway. Here’s how they shuffled the deck in Norway. So they put everyone out of the room, and Standards Norway, three people were left in the room, and they usurped the decision and made it their business to decide to approve anyway.

Unbelievable. If it was happening in only one country, you might think it was local difficulties. But when it happens in place after place, one can only conclude that Microsoft, although outnumbered in a fair vote, has sufficient clout behind the scenes to shove this format into the world’s mouth and hold its mouth closed by force until the world is compelled to swallow. Remember that Microsoft memo that surfaced in the Comes v. Microsoft litigation? The one about how to stack a panel discussion at conferences so it would be favorable to Microsoft? The key was to get to be the moderator.

One thing is certain. Unless ISO steps up and fixes this mess, it will lose the world’s respect, and rightly so. Either the rules mean something, or they don’t, but if they don’t standards don’t mean anything either.

Full article here.

32 Comments

  1. Again this exemplifies what MS brings to the world. Innovation? no. Great products? no. Value for your money? no.

    Disreputable business practices which makes MS scads of money? A most definite yes.

  2. P.S.
    And while ISO goes about “… fixing this mess…”, can ISO please get WMA/WMV/WM – all things Windows media into one group, and pronounce them NOT an officially recognized standard once and for all. For audio it’s AIF[F], that’s it period. Even if WMA is an ISO recognized standard I would like to recommend that it be removed and publicly announced as such. Same goes for WMV.

  3. Here’s another revealing post at Groklaw. It quotes from an internal Microsoft document that was an exhibit in the Comes v. Microsoft litigation:

    “Our mission is to establish Microsoft’s platforms as the de facto standards throughout the computer industry…. Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function …

    “I have mentioned before the “stacked panel”. … The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select the panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. …”

    http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20071023002351958

    The guy a couple of posts above — bon — is right. No-one could look at Apple’s record and Microsoft’s and conclude it was the former that was “evil”.

    I guess Apple can play rough. You could say, for example, that Apple stitched up David Maynor over the wi-fi hack. When the NDA was over it turned out he did have a vulnerability there; and there you had Apple’s Lynn Fox briefing against him, and Maynor unable to answer. But stitching up David Maynor and stitching up an international standards body are very different matters.

    Microsoft will damage us all badly if we let them.

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