foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

OOXML about to pass? Incredible irregularities reported

, posted: 1-Apr-2008 11:08

It's all over the news today that OOXML will probably be approved as an ISO standard this week. Plenty of links to the coverage in this discussion on Slashdot. As is now common with OOXML, there are also reports of hair-raising irregularities in the voting processes of various countries. The best example being Norway (switching from 'No' to 'Yes'):
Of the 24 members attending, 19 disapproved, 5 approved. The result: The administrative staff decided that Norway wants to approve OOXML as an ISO standard.
Groklaw has more details on this:
...there were only two votes to approve, from Microsoft and a business partner ... 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.
They then continue:
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.
Clearly, the entire process has become a mockery. It is quite infuriating having to watch this and being unable to change what is so very obviously a process that is now heavily undermined and compromised by vendor interests. ISO is losing credibility as a technical and independent standards gremium.

Why should we care? Nobody forces us to use OOXML, right? One of the posters in the Slashdot discussion wonderfully summed up the situation we will be in:
OOXML will pass, MS Office will use its own, non-standard version of OOXML, governments will claim they are in compliance with laws requiring open standards, and the rest of us will be in the same boat we've been in for fifteen years. It's all quite sick.
Yes, I reckon that's exactly what's going to happen, and that - of course - is exactly what Microsoft wants. Sigh...

Update: Shlashdot has just reported that the Norwegian OOXML vote has been formally protested:
I am writing to you in my capacity as Chairman (of 13 years standing) of the Norwegian mirror committee to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34. I wish to inform you of serious irregularities in connection with the Norwegian vote on ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Office Open XML) and to lodge a formal protest. You will have been notified that Norway voted to approve OOXML in this ballot. This decision does not reflect the view of the vast majority of the Norwegian committee, 80% of which was against changing Norway's vote from No with comments to Yes.'
Hopefully, this protest will be heard, and will encourage similar protests from other countries, in which voting irregularities have taken place.


Other related posts:
New Zealand's national broadcaster (TVNZ) discriminating against non-Windows users?
Microsoft Office to support ODF
OOXML gets ISO blessing - bad for all of us

Comment by aussiebear, on 1-Apr-2008 17:34

They have won this battle, but they will lose the war.

(1) They cannot stop blogs.

As such, one can document everything they've done with facts. Do it in an unbiased, unopinion way. (Throwing your opinion into it will only give skepticism to the reader. You do NOT want that!).
(2) ISO doesn't mean we will have to accept it like a gun to our heads.
Stay with ODF. It matters not that OOXML is adopted by Govt or businesses. As long as you don't adopted full time, that's what really matters. To protest by not using it as much as possible. They can rule over us, but they cannot change our thinking unless we let them.
(3) Stick with open source.
Open source remains a contradiction and a threat to the Microsoft business model. They've even admitted it in their FORM 10-K. See pages 12 to 13 under the section of "ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS"
(4) If you're a coder, now is the time to start an open source project at
Something that seriously addresses missing bits in today's Linux distros. Maybe a Photoshop clone? That would help address Adobe's piracy problems as well as provide some competition! :)
(5) There's no need to encourage other people to adopt Linux via criticism of Microsoft.
Show them what it can do, but let them decide. They may not adopt it today, but it will be an option from them tomorrow. What counts is that they're aware of it. Its FAR more powerful than any marketing and manipulation exercise that MS can come up with. Remain open, honest, and maintain integrity.
Whatever happens, MS can not taken your mind or your heart. Do not react with emotion, but respond with the mind. Doing a little bit today may not seem much, but a consistent contribution with everyone is the most powerful thing we have in the open source community.

The best analogy I can give is try growing bamboo. At first, you just have to keep watering. It may take as much as 5 years for you to see anything. But when you do see something, they grow very quickly. (5 metres in a month!)

The point is, to remain consistent and patient.

Stand your ground and don't ever give up on what you believe in.

Comment by barf, on 5-Apr-2008 11:42

first it was sweden's vote manipulated and now norway?? do these scandanavian countries grab their ankles when Microsoft brass walk into the room or something?

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