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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

New Rules Created For OOXML Vote 66

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "There are new rules to follow for any NB that wishes to change their vote on OOXML after the lack of resolution at the recent Ballot Resolution Meeting. After comparing it to previous instructions, it seems that they only have until March 29th, they need to email several specific people, that email must be sent by certain people, and they need to confirm it in writing as well, most likely via registered mail. Even Groklaw's PJ, who made sense of many of SCO's filings, finds all the requirements a little confusing. But anyone who wants to disapprove of OOXML had better dot every 'i' and cross every 't' if they want their vote to count, if past behavior is any indication."
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New Rules Created For OOXML Vote

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  • Odd (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nateman1352 ( 971364 )
    What why exactly such a confusing voting process?
    • Moral of the story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:36PM (#22811490) Journal
      ISO doesn't matter anymore. They didn't matter because they were "The ISO", they mattered because they were a place where politics could be set aside and everyone could work together to make standards that work. That was a unique and precious thing. Now they're not these things anymore, and therefore, they are defunct.

      MS didn't drag themselves up a notch here, they just destroyed something special in the world because it got in the way of their dominance. A sad thing.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It also shows how desperate M$ is becoming.
        • by tsa ( 15680 )
          Exactly, and how much they care about interoperability. If they really cared about interoperability they would have implemented ODF as a working document format in Office 2007, and not as a crappy converter plugin like they have now.
      • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
        I think that's the clearest assessment on the matter I've come across so far. But alas, I lack mod points.
        • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @06:45PM (#22812946) Homepage
          Its still completely wrong. Standards bodies really do not matter in the way people at slashdot imagine they do. ISO has a complete set of standards for a networking infrastructure, nobody uses it. The Internet was the competition.

          During the early 90s many if not most people who were working on the Internet thought it was only a matter of time before the OSI stack replaced it. Didn't turn out that way despite ISO accreditation.

          ISO standards do not need to be open or unencumbered. It is not a democratic process.

          All the standards process means is that if OOXML is accepted and someone wants to claim their product is OOXML they have to comply with the spec. It does not mean that its open, unencumbered or any good. It does not even mean that it has to work. It does not mean that you have to use the result.

          • Bullspit (Score:3, Informative)

            by pallmall1 ( 882819 )

            It does not mean that you have to use the result.

            If governments start using OOXML for storing and processing public records, the public will have to use it to view public documents. I see this bogus "you don't have to use it" argument spread around the internet like fertilizer every time someone tries to justify the perversion of the standard setting process.

            It stinks.

            The parent post really seems to try to quickly skip across the "if" part of "if OOXML is accepted...". The acceptance process is supp

            • If governments start using OOXML for storing and processing public records, the public will have to use it to view public documents. I see this bogus "you don't have to use it" argument spread around the internet like fertilizer every time someone tries to justify the perversion of the standard setting process.

              Don't try to fight that particular fight through the standards process. If you want government documents to be available in a particular format then lobby governments to do so. It is not that diffic

          • All the standards process means is that if OOXML is accepted and someone wants to claim their product is OOXML they have to comply with the spec. It does not mean that its open, unencumbered or any good. It does not even mean that it has to work. It does not mean that you have to use the result.
            But it should mean that proper procedure was followed in formalizing a standard, which does not appear to the case with OOXML.
          • ISO has standard on tens of thousands of things that matter, and those standards make international trade and cooperation possible. It just so happens that, in some cases, other standards have won over ISO's, so what? What matters here is not whether one particular ISO standard is fucked up, or unusable, or braindead: these are the kind of things that are expected to happen. What matters is that the ISO itself has been corrupted, its processes have been damaged, the trust it enjoyed has been dilapidated, be
      • ISO doesn't matter anymore. They didn't matter because they were "The ISO", they mattered because they were a place where politics could be set aside and everyone could work together to make standards that work. That was a unique and precious thing. Now they're not these things anymore, and therefore, they are defunct.
        I call BS, while this fisaco will certainly cost them some reputation they are a huge organisation and you need to keep in perspective that this working group is only a tiny part of ISO.
      • by tsa ( 15680 )
        Not only sad but dispickable, extremely annoying and worth an investigation. People at ISO should be punished for changing the rules like this. You can say 'no' to money, you know.
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:24PM (#22811294) Journal
    But anyone who wants to disapprove of OOXML had better dot every 'i' and cross every 't' if they want their vote to count, if past behavior is any indication.

    If spelling counts, the open-source side is pretty much doomed. You might as well have CmdrTaco start drafting a concession speech right now.

  • by blowdart ( 31458 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:27PM (#22811342) Homepage

    But anyone who wants to disapprove of OOXML had better dot every 'i' and cross every 't' if they want their vote to count

    Or anyone that has been "bought" (if that is going on) and wants to change their mind has it hard too; but we shouldn't mention that should we?

    • by blind monkey 3 ( 773904 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:50PM (#22811694)
      Special rules for any company has to be viewed with suspicion, special rules when a company has actually been caught buying votes is even more worrying.
      Worse than that, some people are actually accepting this as SOP and still want to give the "benefit of the doubt" to them.
      A lot of irregularities have occurred in favour of Microsoft, rules have been bent in favour of Microsoft, my suspicion is this will favour Microsoft. You believe, I gather, that it will not favour anyone.... why the change? Again, another change in procedure.....
      • A lot of irregularities have occurred in favour of Microsoft, rules have been bent in favour of Microsoft, my suspicion is this will favour Microsoft.


        Of course it will. Microsoft will form a team of consultants available to help anyone change their "against" vote into a "for" vote. If a country that previously voted "for" asks for help, they won't get any.

        And that's assuming that the rules will be enforced impartially.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or anyone that has been "bought" (if that is going on) and wants to change their mind has it hard too; but we shouldn't mention that should we?
      You're assuming that the rules are going to be applied impartially. Who's to say that procedural errors by pro-OOXML voters won't be winked through, while procedural errors by anti-OOXML voters are used to disqualify their votes?

      Yeah, I'm cynical. So sue me.
  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by glavenoid ( 636808 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:32PM (#22811410) Journal

    [...]After comparing it to previous instructions, it seems that they only have until March 29th, they need to email several specific people, that email must be sent by certain people, and they need to confirm it in writing as well, most likely via registered mail[...]

    Snips and emphasis mine, but still, I'm sorry. Sometimes I'm a bit slow, but just what does this mean? ...

    BTW, what's that smell?!
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:32PM (#22811414) Homepage Journal
    You ALSO had to send the filing to the zoning office...

    in a locked basement
    with a sign on the door, "Beware of Alligators"
    in a condemned building

    on the third planet of Alpha Centauri
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JordanL ( 886154 )
      Wait a minute, now you're just leading me on! There's only two planets orbitting Alpha Centauri!
    • Either this is in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series at some point and I've forgotten, or it should be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ed Avis ( 5917 )

      '...You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anyone or anything.'
      'But the plans were on display...'
      'On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.'
      'That's the display department.'
      'With a torch.'
      'Ah, well the lights had probably gone.'
      'So had the stairs.'
      'But look you found the notice didn't you?'
      'Yes,' said Arthur, 'yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:32PM (#22811420)
    Is there word anywhere on an official reason for this change in voting procedure? I'm not seeing it in TFA or in any of the things it directly links to, but I might be missing it.
    • Probably because someone made a few thousand very important points somewhere.


      You know, I used to respect ISO... Microsoft proved that they can ruin anything they want. Well, except for Google.
    • Perhaps for the same reason they changed the rules for the BRM vote.
  • by JeremyGNJ ( 1102465 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:36PM (#22811498)
    It has long been rumored that Microsoft wants to actually show that ISO is not such a great standards organization. I guess this proves it. As usual, Microsoft wins either way.
  • Presumably, this also affects those who want to move from "NO" to "YES", and as such, hurts those who want to push it through just as much as helps?
    • Someone has already said it seems to be directed at people switching from yes to no but regardless, who is the one to decide if the conditions have been met? Rules have been thrown out the window when it did not suit the application, if someone wants to change from no to yes, I believe they will "make exceptions, that is the price one pays for deviating from normal procedure - people view your later actions with disdain and suspicion.
      The standards board has given the impression that they are corrupt. They
    • You can bet that anyone wanting to change their vote to "YES" will be adequately coached.
  • by yotto ( 590067 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @04:48PM (#22811662) Homepage
    This seems to only affect people who voted for it, and now want to vote against it.

    You should have to do more (this much more? Not my decision but it does seem odd) to change your vote. Why'd you change your mind? What made you vote for it in the first place?
    • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @05:18PM (#22812052) Journal

      You should have to do more (this much more? Not my decision but it does seem odd) to change your vote. Why'd you change your mind? What made you vote for it in the first place?
      IIRC several countries voted "yes with comments". If their comments were not addressed satisfactorily, they might now want to change their vote. What's "wishy-washy" about voting conditionally and then deciding to change your vote when the conditions are not met?

      Voters might also have initially missed problems in this incredibly long and complicated document that other participants found; they might therefore have voted "yes" initially, and now desire to change that vote to "no" because the evidence available to them has convinced them that the initial "yes" vote was mistaken. What's wrong with changing your mind when presented with new evidence? What's wrong with listening to competing viewpoints and recognising that the person arguing against your initial belief has valid points?

      Or they might have been convinced by Microsoft representatives that OOXML would end global poverty, and have now concluded that the truth doesn't match up to the PR. If someone is convinced by a hard-selling salesman to buy a product they don't need, are they being "wishy-washy" when they cool off and cancel the order? No, they're just displaying common sense.

      Above all, why are people so hostile towards anyone who changes their mind these days? Sticking to your guns regardless is not strong or smart, it's stubborn and stupid. We should applaud people who publicly change their opinions, not condemn them. Wait for someone to actually dither indecisively, or flip-flop repeatedly between two options, before you condemn them. There's nothing wrong with merely taking one side initially and then changing your mind.

      (And, no, I'm not being partisan here. I would say the same in defence of someone who had initially voted against OOXML and had decided, based on the outcome of the BRM, that they would now support it.)
    • by PolR ( 645007 )
      They change their votes because because there has been a BRM that changed the text of the standard. This is how the ISO Fast Track procedure works. You vote a first time, then you have a BRM that changes the text you have voted on, then you revise your vote to reflect your opinion on the new text.

      The point is if the standard is not good enough the first time, they try to fix it during the BRM and then vote again to see if the fix is good enough.
  • Just say NO!
  • Why the outrage? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by krlynch ( 158571 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @05:03PM (#22811852) Homepage
    I fail to understand the outrage in this case. Yes, the OOXML specification sucks and is thoroughly umimplementable. And Microsoft is evil. Check. But these are rules for how National Bodies must proceed to change their votes. We're not talking about some uneducated John Doe here trying to punch a butterfly ballot ... we're talking about institutional groups like ANSI, BSI, JISC, and Standards Australia. If those groups, with their staffs and lawyers, can't figure out how to change their vote, and to use ISO procedural rules to make sure their votes are properly counted, perhaps they shouldn't be able to change their votes. I'm sorry, but this isn't exactly rocket science...
    • If rules are changed there is every reason to be outraged - regardless of who or what it ends up favouring. Have the rules been changed?
    • Here's why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @06:22PM (#22812722)
      > But these are rules for how National Bodies
      Precisely. These are National Bodies, i.e. slow moving bureaucracies.

      If you shorten the dates and in addition to that require extra lead time for written letters to arrive to all the right people, you've both dramatically shorted the review time and caused problems for any national body that scheduled their meeting late (so that maximum review was possible). If you think it's easy rescheduling a meeting of all these key people much earlier than what everyone agreed to *months* in advance, you've never held a meeting of any importance.

      And by limiting decent to a single person, they've also increased the chance that the will of the national body could be thwarted by a bribe.

      > If those groups, with their staffs and lawyers, can't figure out how to change their vote, and to use ISO procedural
      > rules to make sure their votes are properly counted, perhaps they shouldn't be able to change their votes. I'm sorry, but this isn't exactly rocket science...

      Sorry, but that's BS. If I give you rules that are impossible to follow, no number of lawyers or staff can follow them any more than if I ask you to draw a Frobizoid without explaining what a Frobizoid is, or ask you to fill out form G in order to get Form F but in order to get form G you have to fill out form F.

      And even if the rules are unambigious to an elite lawyer, the more complicated the rules, the more likely that votes can be thrown out because of procedural rather than technical issue. Given the mistrust in the process so far, I wouldn't be at all surprised if No to Yes transitions happen (because Microsoft knows the rules they wrote) but Yes/Abstain to No votes are rejected because of non-obvious procedural issues.

      Ask yourself this question. Is ISO in place to be a place where lawyers must solve puzzles to get to the next level, or is it a place to create valuable world wide standards that have been proven technically?
    • Yeah but why change the rules now just for this instance? And why should we not allow for mistakes? Or should we be acting on errors?
  • Heh. this isn't surprising for Microsoft. Just wait, the day they count all the votes - MS will probably convince ISO that it's opposite day.
  • by pieterh ( 196118 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @05:56PM (#22812456) Homepage
    Here's a little of what Jim Melton, the ISO SQL editor, had to say about the OOXML process [noooxml.org]:

    You've written 6000 pages of specification largely in secret (and, I understand, recently added over 1500 more pages) and given the world five months to read, absorb, understand, review, critique, and establish informed positions on it. Worse, whether it happened because of unreasonable methods, pure random chance, or genuine and unexpected interest, the fact that the size of the JTC 1 Subcommittee that was to vote on the document suddenly exploded gives the appearance that somebody was trying too hard to stack the deck...almost as though it wasn't really desired to have too much real review.

    BTW SQL was one of the largest ever ISO standards and took 20 years to debug. It was still smaller than OOXML.

    And, Please sign the NoOOXML.org petition [noooxml.org] if you didn't already!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      For one person to have reviewed the entire document (and you really need one person to do it, because otherwise you will only spot local inconsistencies) in the time allotted, they would have had to have reviewed seven pages per hour, every single working hour for the entire five months. For comparison, a peer-reviewed conference paper is typically around 7 pages (8 including references and abstract) and takes a good half day or so to review. A document of this size will take longer per page, since you wi
  • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @06:41PM (#22812908)

    [PJ] Here's what the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 page says about it, and go by this, not by my guess as to what they mean:

    * In regard to the September 2, 2007 JTC 1 ballot on the fast track DIS 29500 based on Ecma 376, the ballot resolution meeting (BRM) was held in the week of February 25-29, 2008 at the International Conference Centre Geneva http://www.cicg.ch/en/index.php [www.cicg.ch]. Within 30 days after the BRM, national bodies voted in the 2 September ballot may change their vote from any of "approve", "disapprove" or "abstain" to any of "approve", "disapprove" or "abstain". Any NB wishing to change its vote must inform ITTF of this intention in writing by 29th March, 2008.

    Vote change shall be communicated by email addressed to Keith Brannon (brannon@iso.org) as well as Maho Takahashi (takahashi@iso.org), Martine Gaillen (gaillen@iso.org) and yourself on copy.

    The following shall be indicated in the subject. "Modification to the vote on DIS 29500 - Country (National Body/e.g. JISC)"

    The name of sender shall be mentioned in the email.
    * In accordance with the JTC 1 Directives, the progress of the specification will depend on the revised status of all previously-received votes after the BRM.

    Please see SC 34 N 932: Frequently Asked Questions regarding DIS-29500 Ballot Resolution Meeting for more details.

    [PJ] I don't know if that [omitted] means you have to do more than just email, or who exactly you'd write to if there is a separate requirement. We get to guess.


    No, we don't, and PJ and the rest of you ought to know better.

    If it originated as letters and is perceived as letters, it's writing. The law and the rest of the world have long since abandoned the idea that a photocopy or a facsimile or an email are somehow not writing.

    Any ambiguity as to the meaning of "must be in writing" is resolved by the requirement that the vote change shall be communicated by email. Not may be communicated by email. Not shall be communicated by email and something they forgot to mention.

    Any semblance of ambiguity in the last point is resolved by the lack of a street address, facsimile number, telex identifier, or literally any other means of communicating with the three individuals other than their email addresses. So much detail concerning the email, but they forgot to mention the rest.

    As for the actual requirements:

    Sending a message to three people. Unconscionable - Never 'cc' anyone. Having an identifiable subject line. Evil - Short messages from an unknown email addresses are never identified as spam. Copying yourself. Unnecessary - Messages never get left in draft form in mail programs, and people happily accept the consequences of their incompetence. Including the name of the sender. Completely unnecessary - SMTP is unspoofable and contact@yourco.org can easily be verified as having the authority to change the vote of a national body.

    This is either an elaborate joke, or PJ has partaken of far too much of the Kool-Aid.
  • I really don't get this. It seems (from my outsiders layman prospective) that MS is being treated differently here.

    Naturally the whole ISO system is running the risk of losing a massive amount of credibility on this issue.

    So why do they do it? I mean they are not fools - they must read all the comments on the web.

    The only reason I could come up with is that they are afraid of the possibility of the next big standard being non-ISO approved and thus them being diminished in importance and relevence.
    • by vidarh ( 309115 )
      "Running the risk"? I already consider them corrupt and irrelevant, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Of course I don't have PROOF of corruption, and so this is my opinion only, but whether or not actual corruption has taken place, what they have done is inexcusable of anything supposedly being a serious standards organization.
  • Why should they be making it harder to vote *against* a standard? The mind boggles at what's going on here.

    The only thing for sure is that ISO is destroying any credibility it may have had as a standards body. Let's hope the people who were demanding standards compliance form Microsoft are paying attention to this fiasco and change their requirements too.

  • But anyone who wants to disapprove of OOXML had better dot every 'i' and cross every 't' if they want their vote to count

    Actually, no. To disapprove OOXML requires only that everyone who voted NO in the first round simply DO NOTHING; their NO vote will in that case be left the same, and OOXML fails the fast track. It really is that simple, and I am amazed at the number of people who "knowledgeably" and negatively comment on a process they apparently know little about.

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