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NZ, Sweden, Hungary Reflect OOXML Turmoil 146

Posted by kdawson
from the buying-a-standard dept.
A number of readers are sending news of the progress of Microsoft's attempt to get OOXML standardized by ISO. First off, New Zealand has voted "no" on the question. In Sweden, after the uproar following the "yes" vote there, a Microsoft representative has admitted buying Swedish OOXML votes (link in Swedish — follow the Read More... link below for some translated quotes). Computerworld has also picked up the Sweden story. Finally, from Hungary, reader ens0niq writes that the Minister of Economy and Transport has sent a letter to the General Director of the Hungarian Standards Institution requiring that the June 25 "yes" vote be re-done because of irregularities. Our correspondent notes, however, that many Microsoft partners have joined the voting committee in the meanwhile, so the result could be a replay of Sweden's experience.

Here are some quotes from the Swedish article translated by our anonymous correspondent.

-We have been informing our business partners about the process at SIS. What is going on, what the time plan is and that Microsoft thinks it is good if OOXML becomes a standard.

-In a letter from Microsoft, our business partners were informed that they were "expected" to participate in the SIS meeting and vote yes. As a compensation they would get "market benefits" and extra support in terms of Microsoft resources.

-This was a mistake and the letter was sent by a single employee on his own initiative without sanctions from Microsoft. He also quickly realised his mistake and tried to recall the letter.

-I can understand the critique about coup-like voting. But I claim the voters knew the issue well and had their own interest in OOXML becoming an ISO standard.

(Interviewer) -Has this harmed Microsoft?

-Time will tell. But almost all customers we have been talking to thinks it would be good if OOXML became an ISO standard.
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NZ, Sweden, Hungary Reflect OOXML Turmoil

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  • by TofuMatt (1105351) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:16AM (#20411047) Homepage
    who just uttered "Fucking Word!", I can't imagine why they'd have to buy the vote...
  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:17AM (#20411071)
    One can only hope that enough publicity to the "irregularities" will force the votes to be better controlled and conducted in the future.

    Yes MS got the Swedish vote - but I think they will find it to be a Phyrric victory.
    • by beheaderaswp (549877) * on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:43AM (#20411389)
      Phyrric victory indeed.

      This one is simply devastating. I've made copies of all the articles and documentation- including the spin statement where they spin "It was still within the rules" for the Microsoft partners to join the ratifying body.

      Now what I will do with those documents is send them to my board of directors. They will read them.

      The result: I have the power when needed to say to Microsoft "Sorry, we like your products, but we can't support your business methods"

      I've been reducing the Microsoft presence in my datacenter for a year or so and deploying Microsoft products only where they make sense. That's about 50% of the time, and usually on the desktop.

      I don't have a lot of power to be the catalyst for change, and Microsoft isn't going anywhere (Thankfully, they make some good products). However, if I send the Microsoft rep packing enough times with negative comments about ethics... perhaps in a small way I can make things better.
      • Perhaps you could put that accumulation of knowledge somewhere on the Intarwebs where we can all benefit from it? Call it 'Linux Compare' or something like that. :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Atzanteol (99067)
          Perhaps something catchy, like "get the facts?" :-)

          I agree though, making this available would be helpful to others as well.

          • by Simon80 (874052)
            seriously, "Get the Facts about Microsoft" would be the perfect title for such a site.
      • Love (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Das Auge (597142)
        Have I told you lately how much I love you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jkrise (535370)
        Now what I will do with those documents is send them to my board of directors. They will read them.

        I have already done so, in a private intranet forum... I've compared Microsoft's tactics to that of third-rate politicians in India. I'm sure when the top brass gets more and more details of this sordid episode, there will be zero resistance when I suggest that we simply avoid Active Directory, Exchange, Office and Sharepoint for our business systems.

      • It's not like ISO standard status makes something good; witness IS-IS or the 7-layer thing.
    • by JohnFluxx (413620) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @01:01PM (#20413299)
      I didn't know what a Phyrric victory was, so I looked it up. Here it is for anyone else curious:

      King Pyrrhus of Epirus fought a war against the Romans in 280BC. He won the war, but in the process lost most of his soldiers, commanders and friends.
      The Romans lost more men in the battle, but had plenty of new men to take their place. Pyrrhus on the other had little left.

      He famously said: "Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone."

  • own interest? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:21AM (#20411109)
    >But I claim the voters knew the issue well and had their own interest in OOXML becoming an ISO standard.

    If this is true, then why
    1) does MS tell their partners in the letter on which arguments for OOMXL they should use? MS even advises their partners to not use "too technical" arguments (are there "technical" arguments in favour of OOMXL anyway??).
    2) does MS tell their partners to go to one or two meetings AFTER the voting to prove they are not only in it for this single vote?
    • <w:r rogue:empidRPr='MS00404922' xmlns:rogue="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/ o oxml/sp2/employee/curtain">
      <w:ignoreElements w:val="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/ooxml/s p2/employee/curtain"/>
      <w:rPr>
      <w:rStyle w:val='rogue'/>
      </w:rPr>
      <w:t>Hey, guys! Vote yes on our standard and we'll send you some free T-shirts and mugs!</w:t>
      </w:r>
      • <w:r rogue:empidRPr='MS00404922' xmlns:rogue="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/ o oxml/sp2/employee/curtain">
        <w:ignoreElements w:val="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/ooxml/s p2/employee/curtain"/>
        <w:rPr>
        <w:rStyle w:val='rogue'/>
        </w:rPr>
        <w:t>Hey,</w:t>
        <w:ignoreElements w:val="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/ooxml/s p2/employee/curtain"/>
        <w:rPr
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Maxo-Texas (864189)


                vote "like microsoft 1998"

  • by JackHoffman (1033824) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:23AM (#20411137)
    Microsoft, it offends me that you don't even try to hide your manipulations anymore. It's all out in the open. Everybody can see that the whole process is bullshit. As long as it's legal or can be twisted to look legal, you don't seem to mind anymore. Other businesses at least make an effort not to upset the public that is being raped.
    • The joys of a monopoly. When there's little you can do against a nuisance, the nuisance can be as public as it wants. What do you want to do against it anyway?
    • While Americans consider graft to be wrong, many American companies find the only way to access foreign markets is to pay off the corrupt gatekeepers. This doesn't neccessarily mean the people of those countries are inferior for failing to erradicate corruption, it just means their culture holds 'different' values.

      The BBC has a nice page of links to key reports [bbc.co.uk] regarding how various countries and politicians around the world held 'different' cultural values in the Oil-For-Food scandal.
      • by homer_s (799572) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:51AM (#20412285)
        While Americans consider graft to be wrong, many American companies find the only way to access foreign markets is to pay off the corrupt gatekeepers.

        If you bribe someone in a foreign country, it is called graft/corruption/bribery/etc and is a crime.

        If you do that in America, it is called 'lobbying' and is as American as apple pie. If only those corrupt foreigners stop calling it bribery and call it lobbying, the pure as milk American companies would not have to engage in this crime.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arivanov (12034)
          Exactly. If MSFT bough these votes under the table it would have been graft and USA has specific laws and some fairly serious sanctions regarding its own companies doing graft abroad. In this case everything is aboveboard and as correctly noted by many people this while despicable is legally allowed.
          While at it, it will be worthwhile to look if MSFT did this somewhere under the table. This will allow applying USA laws on graft abroad.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        While Americans consider graft to be wrong, many American companies find the only way to access foreign markets is to pay off the corrupt gatekeepers. This doesn't neccessarily mean the people of those countries are inferior for failing to erradicate corruption, it just means their culture holds 'different' values.

        Um, what do you think campaign contributions are ? Seen from the outside, the US appears extremely corrupted to me.

        • Um, what do you think campaign contributions are ? Seen from the outside, the US appears extremely corrupted to me.

          You would be right if they came from the outside. Because governments are limited to national boundries, so votes and contributions are to come from citizens. But companies are global, they market globally and are responsible globally, so a country may decide to participate with any company they chooose, and ban any company they choose. Microsoft doesn't get banned because too many people lov

      • This doesn't neccessarily mean the people of those countries are inferior for failing to erradicate corruption, it just means their culture holds 'different' values.

        No, it means that their cultures and institutions are fundamentally corrupt.

    • by blueZ3 (744446) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:05AM (#20411657) Homepage
      Whatever little thing you can. Even small steps count.

      It's easy to bemoan the fact that there's this large corporation with a virtual monopoly on desktop operating systems and office tools. The wailing and gnashing of teeth across slashdot about this is almost ceaseless.

      My suggestion (and something I'm doing myself) is to think of ways to encourage people to move away from Microsoft products. If you "support" family and friends, recommend Firefox if they ask you about security. Encourage someone to try out a live CD of Ubuntu. If you know someone who is thinking about buying a new computer who is considering a Mac, provide arguments in favor and offer support.

      I've moved every computer I own (five) off Windows. My wife and I both have Mac laptops (good riddance to that Dell crap), our HTPC is a mini, our server and the PC in our garage are running Ubuntu. When my sister-in-law wanted a Mac, I encouraged her husband to get her one, and offered to her with support (he's a Windows guy). When my dad asked about internet security problems, I pointed him to Firefox and gently suggested that IE/Windows isn't the best choice.

      I'm not suggesting (as some here do) that you should be ramming Open Source or a non-Windows OS down someone's throat. I wouldn't ever advocate being pushy about it, since you catch more flies with honey... but when it comes up (and for those of us who are "support" for family and friends, that's pretty often) it never hurts to gently, subtly point out alternatives to MS. If every geek who villifies MS on slashdot does their small bit, we can eventually make a difference.

      Just my $.02
    • I'll wager this sort of thing goes on in standards committees all the time. I'm not defending Microsoft, because they are deceitful, vile pack of goons, but they sure the hell aren't the only deceitful, vile pack of goons. International bodies can be notorious for this sort of nonsense. Just look at the Olympic Committee.
    • Microsoft, it offends me that you don't even try to hide your manipulations anymore.

      Why should Microsoft bother to hide its corruption? It has never been punished and it never will be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:23AM (#20411139)
    This is awesome. Microsoft buys votes, and then, after voting has been completed, they can simply turn around and claim that they will not follow up on their promises given to their vote-selling partners!
    • Microsoft is a pimp and the partners are it's whores.
      You can keep them in line be beating them ugly up or giving them drugs.
      Microsoft chooses to maintain them getting fucked again and again so Microsoft can reap the profit.
    • by AVee (557523)
      Now that is what I call a true maffia^H^H^H^Hrket leader.
  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:25AM (#20411171) Homepage Journal

    We have been informing our business partners about the process at SIS. What is going on, what the time plan is and that Microsoft thinks it is good if OOXML becomes a standard.
    Alright people, you heard The Man, put on your blindfolds and get in line...

    In a letter from Microsoft, our business partners were informed that they were "expected" to participate in the SIS meeting and vote yes. As a compensation they would get "market benefits" and extra support in terms of Microsoft resources.
    And don't forget to tip your valet... wouldn't want anything to happen to your car, ya know...

    This was a mistake and the letter was sent by a single employee on his own initiative without sanctions from Microsoft. He also quickly realised his mistake and tried to recall the letter.
    Way to go, Scooter. Now let's pretend we never met.

    I can understand the critique about coup-like voting. But I claim the voters knew the issue well and had their own interest in OOXML becoming an ISO standard.
    They sure did... "In a letter from Microsoft, our business partners were informed that they were "expected" to participate in the SIS meeting and vote yes. As a compensation they would get "market benefits" and extra support in terms of Microsoft resources."

    Time will tell. But almost all customers we have been talking to thinks it would be good if OOXML became an ISO standard.
    We're ignoring the small companies with little stake in the matter. like these "IBM" people, and "OpenOffice".

    Yeah, I know, nothing new here. Just needed to vent :o).
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toQDuj (806112) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:25AM (#20411175) Homepage Journal
    Why is it always the fault of a single employee if something goes wrong, and the success of the team if things go right? Where is their fucking backbone to stand with the people in the company?

    I mean, what incentive to the employees now have to do the right things? Well, if there's going to be blame, you're literally on your own, and always have been. If there's a success, it's definitely not your success.

    Is it me, or is there a shift towards a "something wrong? blame the individual!"-style behaviour?

    B.
    • Scapegoat (Score:5, Insightful)

      by castrox (630511) <stefan@@@verzel...se> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:37AM (#20411305)
      It's just a simple excuse that people can't counter easily. Everybody knows it's effectively Microsoft the corporation that sent those letters, but for Microsoft it's simple to use a, real or imagined, employee as shield.

      Had it been a real rogue employee that had sent those letters then we'd be hearing he/she had been fired instantly - since this is effectively fraud/falsification in the company's name. We haven't seen any such firing, hence it must be supported from higher above.

      The problem for Microsoft is how much publicity this story got. Apparently more than they had anticipated.
      • Last I knew, this guy sent the letter as official correspondence, and that "official correspondence represents the company". I don't know how they could use the "single employee" theory, because Accounting doesn't give *me* $50,000 to spend as I please without authorization.
        (See? Who's supposed to pay that? That means at least TWO employees... and counting.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by phoenixwade (997892)

          Last I knew, this guy sent the letter as official correspondence, and that "official correspondence represents the company". I don't know how they could use the "single employee" theory, because Accounting doesn't give *me* $50,000 to spend as I please without authorization.
          (See? Who's supposed to pay that? That means at least TWO employees... and counting.)

          The reports indicated that Microsoft didn't cut a check for entry fees. Instead it promised resources and future concessions to compensate for each company cutting a check. That is something One individual could do in a Corporation the size of Microsoft.

          Now that we have that out of the way.... Of course it was a supported corporate move. What's more, it's part of a global strategy, the same thing was/is occurring in other markets, so they actually have a rogue salesman IN EACH MARKET

    • I mean, what incentive to the employees now have to do the right things? Well, if there's going to be blame, you're literally on your own, and always have been. If there's a success, it's definitely not your success.

      I call that an incentive to refuse doing unethical stuff :-)

      Because the employees now know that M$ will not stand behind them if they do the company's dirty work and get caught. Even if (presumably) management told them to do it.

      On the other hand, maybe the "single employee on his own initiative

    • success of the team? In what world are you living?

      I've been in the SW industry for nearly ten years and I saw a lot of success of visionary PHB, but never heard of any collective success.
    • It's called taking the fall. "Bob, our little gambit in Sweden really fucked up, and we need to keep our distance here, so, you know, we're kinda hoping you take the heat on this one."

      It's more insulting to the community than the fact that Microsoft was buying votes.
    • by Atzanteol (99067)

      Why is it always the fault of a single employee if something goes wrong, and the success of the team if things go right?

      Human nature. "Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan" (paraphrased, forget who said it, too lazy to look up).

    • by init100 (915886)

      Why is it always the fault of a single employee if something goes wrong, and the success of the team if things go right?

      This isn't just a corporate phenomenon. Just look at sports. Ever heard of we won, they lost? When your team win, it's "we won". When your team lose, its "they lost". People like to associate themselves with the winners and distance themselves from the losers.

  • BTW I am against the obvious M$ practice of buying a standards committee vote so blatantly . But I do have a question along the lines of "what happens if I throw a huge ($) party and nobody comes?"

    What I am asking is this: let's assume that Microsoft spends major bucks to get their OOXML stuff accepted in a few different countries through a standards committee, but then the standard is proven to NOT be open -- as is being shown by work already in progress -- but that the lack of openness and the bad press g

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by faloi (738831)
      Maybe I'm too cynical. It's MS's game to lose. If they get enough countries to vote yes, then it becomes a standard regardless of glaring technical issues and they win. If they cause all the voting to be stalled (or go 'round and 'round) long enough that a majority of people start using their unofficial standard, they win. The only way, in my opinion, for MS to lose is for countries to hurry to a "no" vote and kick them out of the game. Or at least force them to the sidelines for a while. It's probabl
      • by Shotgun (30919) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @01:01PM (#20413313)
        Microsoft stands to lose an incredible cash cow and market control.

        Political bodies are starting to pass laws requiring that official documents be published in an open format. If Microsoft doesn't rush their format through standardization, these governments will start moving to ODF. Once the ship of state starts moving, it is very difficult to stop or turn. When the ship of state moves in the ODF direction, a huge portion of the economy, every vendor or contractor supply that government, will move with it. The government's power to set standards is that powerful. For an example, just try to find a new CRT monitor that isn't Energy Start compliant.

        If this huge section of the market moves to ODF, Microsoft will no longer have the ability to lock users into MS-Office and force upgrades. Now if you open a DOC file in OpenOffice and it doesn't look right, it is OpenOffice's fault. Once there are several vendors selling ODF solution, resolution of fault will fall back to does it comply with the standard. User's have been forced to pay for the latest releases of MS-Office just to remain compatible with the latest format tweaks (that a partner may be using). MS has long been suspected of making gratuitous changes to the format just to force users to buy a new version. They won't be able to tweak an open and published standard, users won't be forced into gratuitous 'upgrades'. The market power and the cash cow will both disappear very quickly.

        The countries need to vote 'no' as you state, but they don't have to do it in a hurry. A delayed approval will allow many of the laws to go into effect and start turning the ship of state. Each day the approval is delayed is another day of erosion of the DOC file format.

    • A question? why does this matter?

      I think this is a good question, and one that I've pondered as well. Considering the effort Microsoft is putting behind it they obviously have their reasons and I suspect a big one is just having the marketing bullet point saying their office software adheres to ISO standards. There are likely many governments and even big business customers that require their vendors to adhere to ISO standards. By pushing their proprietary garble through as a standard they can continue with

    • Here's some way to check for yourself. Got to your boss and ask him what he thinks of MS buying votes in the OOXML voting process. I see 3 possible answers:

      1. What the hell is OOXML?
      2. What kind of voting process?
      3. Erh... make a memo, I read it later.

      In other words, nobody outside of IT will know about it. All they will know is that this is an ISO standard. And as soon as they hear ISO standard, they don't care anymore what it is, how technically unfit it is or how it was cheated into existance. It's an IS
    • What I am asking is this: let's assume that Microsoft spends major bucks to get their OOXML stuff accepted in a few different countries through a standards committee, but then the standard is proven to NOT be open -- as is being shown by work already in progress -- but that the lack of openness and the bad press generated by their blatant vote buys in the mean time pretty much corrupts the market value of their standard anyway.

      You're puzzled because you assume that Microsoft gives a shit about standards. Th

  • Was he fired? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This was a mistake and the letter was sent by a single employee on his own initiative without sanctions from Microsoft. He also quickly realised his mistake and tried to recall the letter.

    Was this employee fired?
    • by init100 (915886)

      It is highly unlikely. In Sweden, you'd have to commit repeated gross negligence for the employer to be able to fire you, and then it is usually with a three months advance notice. You cannot have an employee fired and have the guards escort him out the same day as you can in the US.

      • It is highly unlikely. In Sweden, you'd have to commit repeated gross negligence for the employer to be able to fire you,

        If it is sufficiently gross, a single offense is enough. It happened to one of my colleagues, although not for sending an e-mail but rather getting drunk at the company barbecue and assaulting a coworker with an empty beer bottle. And Arbetsdomstolen has upheld firings for something as trivial as stealing a roll of toilet paper from the employer.

        and then it is usually with a three months

  • ..at least they are re-doing the vote, and that's good, even if the end result will be the same. Considering how egregious the irregularities were, for example, in Portugal, and yet noone seems to give a duck, it's nice that some hungarian senior officials are making a stand of principle.

    I should disclose that I am half hungarian.

    Now I hope the other countries where MS did their dirty deeds to get OOXML ISO-standardized, will have an epifany of sorts and cancel the fraudolent voting results.
  • Aren't Microsoft missing something here?

    Surely the whole point of standards, be they national or international, is that they are not allowed to depend on encumbered "intellectual property". So if OOXML is adopted as an ISO standard, then all the necessary patents will have to be annulled!

    Requiring a person to pay patent royalties to one person or corporation merely in order to comply with the law of the land is extortion, plain and simple.
    • Surely the whole point of standards, be they national or international, is that they are not allowed to depend on encumbered "intellectual property". So if OOXML is adopted as an ISO standard, then all the necessary patents will have to be annulled!

      Sure, that's the point. However, if it becomes a standard anyway, that doesn't mean that after the fact MS is going to be voiding any patents! (The only "hope" would be if it were necessary to void the patents in order to get standards acceptance.)

      Remember th

      • by ajs318 (655362)
        No, MS won't void the patents -- that's the job of national governments (who grant the patents in the first place). And any nation whose National Standards Body approves the ISO standard as a national standard will have to annul, within that nation's jurisdiction, any patents which it is impossible to avoid whilst complying with the standard; otherwise that nation's citizens will be beholden to a foreign corporation.
        • Now are you just making this up because it sounds reasonable, or are there actual laws to this effect? Don't take this personally, I'm just a natural skeptic.
      • Even if the 6000 pages of the microsoft BS is free of patents, it contains references to old formats which are either patent covered, or not public or simply wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aadvancedGIR (959466)
      Not always, you could have a standard fully documenting what to do and still have a lot of room for proprietary IP and patents covering your particular implementation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by init100 (915886)

      Surely the whole point of standards, be they national or international, is that they are not allowed to depend on encumbered "intellectual property".

      That's just plain wrong. MPEG is an ISO working group, and their standards are shock-full of patented technologies.

    • by Petrushka (815171)

      Surely the whole point of standards ... is that they are not allowed to depend on encumbered "intellectual property". So if OOXML is adopted as an ISO standard, then all the necessary patents will have to be annulled!

      Wrong way round: regulations imposed by a sovereign government ("laws" concerning intellectual property) supersede regulations imposed by the ISO ("standards"). If the ISO and IP law collide, IP law wins.

  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:49AM (#20411455) Homepage
    I know that everyone on slashdot is <Cpt. Renault voice> shocked, shocked <\voice> to find Microsoft twisting the arms of their partners. I mean, it's not like they've ever done something like with with PC manufacturers who want to pre-install another OS, or anything.

    It's mildy amusing to hear the feigned shock and dismay when Microsoft pulls their antics. At this point, behavior of this stripe should the expected outcome of any situation where Microsoft is involved. Whatever they may have done right in the past, for the last seven or eight years they've been heading down a path that makes it clear they'll do anything to crush competition (except actually produce a better product)

    We all know what they're going to do before they even get their PR machine going. One hint: it won't be the right thing.
  • by Daniel K. Attling (1003208) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @10:51AM (#20411477) Homepage
    OOXML seems to be, from a technical standpoint, such a poorly constructed format that voting on whether or not to name it a standard is just silly. It should have been turned down long ago for its flagrant stupidities and sent back to Redmond with a post-it saying "nice joke!" attached.
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:00AM (#20411579) Homepage
    A thin veneer of XML over the old binary data? Check.

    Encumbered by patents and other "intellectual property"? Check.

    Unimplementable without 500 man-years of effort and a whole lot of inside knowledge? Check.

    You've got to hand it to Microsoft, this is brilliant stuff. It's just as much of a lock-in as the old binary data ever was but they've got ISO voting to make it a new standard. It's amazing what a few free lunches can buy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ExE122 (954104) *

      You've got to hand it to Microsoft, this is brilliant stuff. It's just as much of a lock-in as the old binary data ever was but they've got ISO voting to make it a new standard. It's amazing what a few free lunches can buy.

      Definitely, and what really kills me (and you should add this to the checklist) is that the proposition includes workarounds for potential issues that Microsoft has forseen.

      For example, there is some issue with the way the old M$ date format would port over to OOXML. So the proposed

  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act does not work for Working Groups?
    You have governments interested and 'market subsidies'?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Corrupt_Pract ices_Act [wikipedia.org]

  • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:28AM (#20411965) Homepage Journal
    For corrupt practices. Or at least, ban them from this vote in particular.
  • "In a letter from Microsoft, our business partners were informed that they were "expected" to participate in the SIS meeting and vote yes...
    This was a mistake and the letter was sent by a certain chair-throwing employee on his own initiative "
  • Influencing the market by throwing money at legislation and standards bodies instead of improving your product and becoming more competitive has become a standard way of doing business for years. In the 70's, rather than improve their product at the time, car manufacturer's in the US successfully lobbied for and got quotas on Japanese cars which were pound for pound far superior at the time.
  • Full Translation (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @12:26PM (#20412767)
    here's a translation of the full article, to the best of my anonymous coward capacities. English is not my native language (but Swedish is).

    ------------

    Microsoft admits voting coup at SIS

    Microsoft admits that the company is behind the voting coup at SIS where the document format OOXML became proposed as a new standard.
    - Mistakes have been committed on our part, says Klas Hammar, Microsoft.

    The majority of the 23 companies that showed up at the institute of standards SIS at the last minute to vote yes on making Microsoft's document format OOXML an ISO standard did so at the request of Microsoft.

    - We have continuously informed our partners about the SIS process. What is happening, what the timeline looks like and that Microsoft thinks it is good if OOXML becomes a standard, says Klas Hammar, business unit director at Microsoft.

    - In a letter from Microsoft partners have been told that they were "expected" to participate in the ISI meeting and vote yes. As compensation they would receive "market assistance" and "additional support in the form of Microsoft resources".

    Is this ethically defensible?

    - This was a mistake and the letter was sent out by a single employee completely on his own initiative without any sanction whatsoever from Microsoft. He also quickly realized his mistake and tried to recall the letter, says Klas Hammar.

    - If the person promises "market assistance" and other things he must supposedly have authority for such a promise. Was he a director of some kind and therefore in the position to take such a decision by himself?

    - He was not a director and Microsoft has not sanctioned any such promises, says Klas Hammar.

    - Have you made any more mistakes in this issue?

    - Time will have to tell, says Klas Hammar.

    - Do you understand the critique about "voting coup"?

    - I can understand the critique about voting ways in a coup-like way. But I maintain that those who voted were well informed in the question and have their own interests in making OOXML an ISO standard, says Klas Hammar.

    - Is it really ethic to act as you have and gather "voting cattle" to SIS?

    - It has been a process where both those who have been for and against OOXML have engaged themselves very hard and mobilized their respective partners. And according to SIS there has been tactics from all sides, says Klas Hammar.

    Microsoft should have an interest in standardization work being conducted in a good and credible way. Do you consider the current SIS rules for participation in a work group to be unfortunate?

    - I am not knowledgeable enough in standardization to be able to comment on how a standardization work should be done, says Klas Hammar.

    - Has this hurt Microsoft?

    - Time will have to tell. But almost all customers we have spoken to think it is good if OOXML becomes an ISO standard, says Klas Hammar.

    • by catman (1412) <bjornstNO@SPAMskogkatt.homelinux.org> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @01:32PM (#20413793) Homepage Journal
      The following letter was sent to the Norwegian ISO member by 37 Microsoft customers and partners. Look for the whole story on Groklaw soon. To
      Standard Norge

      for the attention of JCT-1 SC34 committee

      Declaration in support of ISO acceptance of Open XML

      I have been made aware that Norway is going to vote on the ECMA-standard Open XML some time in 2007, and that the Norwegian position in the matter will be decided in the Norwegian ISO committee (JCT-1 SC34) in Standard Norge. In this connection we feel that it is important that Standard Norge has knowledge of the position to this standard in the undersigned's activity.

      By signing this declaration we want to point out the following to Standard Norge:

      an ISO standardization of Open XML has large positive spin-off effects for IT industry in Norway, including our activity, our clients and business partners. Standardization will also have a large effect on future document standards in Norway.

      We base this assertion on the following considerations:

      A standardization of Open XML will insure backward compatibility with billions of existing documents — other existing formats do not satisfy this criterion.
      Several coexisting standards are not unusual. For example, in imaging there are the formats JPEG, GIF, PNG and TIFF. These exist side by side and serve different and overlapping purposes to the advantage of users.
      OpenXML does not rule out the use of other standards such as RTX, TXT, ODF, PDF etc. ISO standardization will on the other hand benefit interoperability among these standards. By making Open XML an internationally approved standard, it is ensured that the standard can communicate with other standards.

      Therefore we wish, hereby, to express our full support for Open XML as an ISO standard.

      • I think a better way to handle standards is for ISO to request three *independent* developers produce sample software that can read and write in the format and interoperate with each other. If this cannot be done, it is rejected.
  • It's not a surprise that slashdot only references the anti-Microsoft articles on this issue, but for the readers sake, I post Microsoft's side of the story regarding Sweden.
    This was posted by Microsoft's Jason Matusow yesterday:
    Matusow's Blog: Open XML - The Vote in Sweden [msdn.com]

    The latest chapter in the Open XML standardization story is focused on Sweden. There are accusations flying, emails floating around, and no shortage of theories about what has been happening there. As you can image I have been following u

    • After three decades of this.. I believe the only mistake was putting in email what was said in undocumentable private meetings and telephone calls.
    • "By the book" means stacking the vote?

      Quite frankly, it brings ISO into disrepute if representatives of either side rush people in like this. Clearly the rules should be modified. I'd say a year's membership ought to be required before any vote.

      And it still doesn't change the fact that OOXML is an utterly useless standard whose only purpose is to give Microsoft the aura of ISO while still maintaining a document format that no one but them (or those that know Redmond's secret handshake) could ever actually
  • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @12:56PM (#20413225) Journal
    The Slashdot translation says:

    In a letter from Microsoft, our business partners were informed that they were "expected" to participate in the SIS meeting and vote yes. As a compensation they would get "market benefits" and extra support in terms of Microsoft resources.
    What is translated as "market benefits" is originally "marknadsbidrag" - which, assuming Swedish is the same as my native tongue Norwegian in this area - means marketing subsidies, which would as far as I know usually be in the form of Microsoft paying for their partner's advertising. This is more or less direct cash for the companies, and can be substantial amounts.

    Eivind.

  • There are days when I want to see the corrupt, lying sons of bitches at Microsoft lined up against the wall and shot.
  • This was a mistake and the letter was sent by a single employee on his own initiative without sanctions from Microsoft

    I wonder if this single employee sent the same letter to companies in the other countries where the same thing happened?
  • I agree, the term "Open Standard" is used very inappropriately by RAND, M$ ... and many others.

    Correctly stated it is simply an "Industry Standard", not "Open".

    By accepted technologist and L/FOSS convention dating back to the 1980's the usage of the term "Open" is conceptually reserved to products/ideas... that closely follow the "Public Property" [GPL, "Open Content", "Open Standards" ...] concept/intent/ideals.

    If you want to use a two word phrase, then the correct phrase for a few decades now has been and
  • The Swedish standards body SIS just issued a press release (pdf in Swedish) [www.sis.se] where they say that the vote has been declared invalid by the board of SIS, and that Sweden will abstain in the international vote (unless they manage to organize a new national vote before September 2, which the consider unlikely).

    According to the press release, the reason for the decision was a technicality (that information suggested that one of the members had voted twice).

    - Well, be that as it may, say I, but perhaps the uproar against the decision both in Sweden and internationally had something to do with. In any case, it sounds like a very fortunate technicality. ;)

    • Thank *insert appropriate deity*. This is just what we need. I just hope all the other voting countries are learning something from this.
    • by Trogre (513942)
      Great news. Would anyone care to post a translation? Google and Altavista seem to be lacking a Swedish translator.

    • Hurray, it needs to get real corporate media attention. Not the nerd online resources. It is important to get the news out, through whatever channels you have.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      I'm not sure an abstention (sp?) does any good. If the ISO has rules regarding what constitutes quorum it might, but otherwise it's functionally identical to "we don't care so we'll go with everyone else".
    • Here is a translation of the OOMXL press release from SIS [www.sis.se] today:

      PRESS RELEASE
      From SIS, Swedish Standards Institute
      August 30, 2007

      Office Open XML - SIS invalidates the vote

      The swedish working group at SIS, Swedish Standards Institute, Document description languages SIS/TK 321/AG 17, decided in a vote on August 27, 2007, to vote yes to making Office Open XML an ISO standard. Today, the board of SIS decided to invalidate the vote.

      The reason for the board's decision is that the SIS has information ind

      • by BigBadBus (653823)
        Declared void because someone voted twice? BULLSHIT! This is called CYA - Cover Your Ass.
        • by leuk_he (194174)
          Note that the translator says "one of the participants of the working group cast more than one vote ."

          How about MS sweden making almost 20 votes, most by proxy? that is also covered by that translated line.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``- Well, be that as it may, say I, but perhaps the uproar against the decision both in Sweden and internationally had something to do with. In any case, it sounds like a very fortunate technicality. ;)''

      Hmm. To me, it sounds like they're weasling their way out of a fuck up. It's sort of like a burglar getting caught and saying: ah, yeah, I just realized what I was doing is bad, so, yeah, I promise not to sell any of the stuff I took.

      Let's face it. The whole thing was wrong. They know it. Enough members of
  • I received emails telling me how to vote (I quote and translate) "... to vote do click on the link below and write on the body: YES and your information ..." I think about how many companies affiliated to the CANIETI (the Mexican chamber for technology, telecommunications, etc.) followed the directions without even thinking about what they where doing. Today Microsoft reach my limit on acceptance about what a company can do or should do to support their business assets. I was worried about receiving calls
  • -Has this harmed Microsoft?

    -Time will tell. But almost all customers we have been talking to thinks it would be good if OOXML became an ISO standard.

    Reading between lines. Who are the "all customers" of Microsoft who think it would be "good"?? (*)

    Does M$ still sell anything directly? I doubt it.

    That leaves us with only option: the "customers" are partners/channel partners of M$ who do real deals selling hardware and OEMs. Shortly - partners.

    Now, the phrase "almost all [snip]partners[/snap] w

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