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Microsoft Government Politics

Denmark Becomes Fourth Nation To Protest OOXML 171

Posted by kdawson
from the i-do-believe-it's-a-convoy dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The rumors of a fourth OOXML complaint turned out to be true. Denmark has become the fourth nation to protest the ISO's acceptance of OOXML, and Groklaw has a translation of their complaint. They now join India, Brazil, and South Africa. There are going to be plenty of questions about deadlines, because people have been given two different deadlines for appeals, and the final DIS of OOXML was late in being distributed and not widely available. In fact, that seems to be one of Denmark's complaints, along with missing XML schemas, contradictory wording, lack of interoperability, and troubles with the maintenance of DIS29500. In other words, we should expect a lot of wrangling over untested rules from here on out, and Microsoft knows how to deal with that."
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Denmark Becomes Fourth Nation To Protest OOXML

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  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Compenguin (175952) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:25PM (#23622763)
    ISO has been playing games like this with SC29/WG11 for years.

    SC29/WG11 (More commonly known as MPEG) is notoriously closed off. All their proposed work for consideration is closed off from public scrutiny until after it has been accepted and published. Reference software updates are only made available to committee members while the rest of us have to wait for a version to be signed off as a Corrigendum/Addendum and then sit for a year as all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed in the general body (why can't non controversial reference software bugfixes get fast-tracked the same way OOXML was?). When people come to MPEG industry forum technical list (Mp4-tech) for clarification they are often referred secret documents and reference software that they have no way of getting. Furthermore their document interchange format is .doc not ODF or OOXML.

    Where did this "credibility and proud history of ISO" meme come from?
  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nullav (1053766) <mocNO@SPAMliamg.valluN> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:32PM (#23622811)

    You seem to have overlooked the fact that this is an issue nobody cares about except for a few geeks.
    You seem to have overlooked the fact that the ISO is largely run by 'a few' geeks.
  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2008 @10:34PM (#23622825)

    ISO is being forced to address certain issues for the first time, and the outcome could be a more robust and impartial standardization process. I'm not predicting a better future for ISO, just refusing to believe that all is lost.
    Show me one admission that the ISO even realise that this is an abomination of a process. SC34 are overrun with Microsoft zealots like Rick Jelliffe and they blame the world for noticing what a poor job they've done.

    They need to admit fault if they want to be trusted again. As of yet there is nothing from the ISO that would inspire confidence.

  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:06PM (#23622991)

    Microsoft deliberately subverted ECMA
    ECMA are an organisation designed to used this way, or in other words ECMA is a sell-out by trade, selling out is the ECMA business model.

    Listen to Jan Van de Beld former General Secretary of ECMA [] describe how they run their business: QUOTE:

    "ECMA for instance has made all the standards for DVD and optical disks. There were 5 recording formats. So there you feel a little bit uneasy, of course. And again after a few beers I can ask the people in the room. Why do you want to have 5 formats? Do you still call that standardization?

    The answer is always the same: You are well paid. Shut up"

    Fast-forward to 4:15 for the quote.
  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cp.tar (871488) <> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:42PM (#23623199) Journal

    ISO doesn't just certify software. Maybe the next poorly conceived ISO spec to get railroaded through will have real world safety implications.

    I'd consider having to buy an expensive program for a not at all cheap OS just to open a standardized document a real-world consequence. And with a limited budget that is expected to feed my family, for instance, I'd even call it a safety implication.

    Other possible implications are left as an exercise for the reader.

    Some of us here are educators, in one way or another. It is our duty to ram this point home to future generations.
    Change is possible, but we have to work rather hard to achieve it.

  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tim99 (984437) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:29AM (#23623453)
    I'm a technical assessor and signatory approver for a real ISO Standard - ISO-17025 (General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories). This was formerly ISO 25, one of the first international standards, which goes back nearly 60 years.

    A number of people have mentioned to me that they consider that Microsoft have 'played' the ISO process and, as a result, consider that even 'good' standards have been compromised. I believe that they are right, and that ISO need to consider getting their house in order. ISO 17025 is a standard that can allow for testing on materials to be carried out in one country, and then these materials can then be exported and distributed within other countries without further testing. In the past there has been disquiet that laboratories in 'Less economically developed' countries, were either not capable of carrying out the technological requirements of some tests; or that they were more liable to a corruption of process. By hard work, and negotiation over a number of years, this disquiet has been addressed.

    As a result of the OXML debacle, we may now be in a position where a LEDC can now truthfully say "Why pick on us - ISO is corrupt anyway".
  • Re:Just wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:55AM (#23623605)
    There is "maintaining legacy apps" and there is "this language is end of life- any patch we release from now on could break it".

    This is a very real risk to my company-- we have 30 year old mainframe programs running as well as the day they were first written but our large visual basic system (1500 class x 40 lines os I guess about 60,000 lines?) now has 3 components at "end of life" and may randomly become non-functional without warning.

    So we will have to replace it.

    Will we use .net? Not very likely. The program works fine- the only reason it can't be kept is microsoft's policy that VB6 is dead (along with the version of SQL it was written in).

    For a major corporation, 5 years is an eye blink-- but $5 to $10 million (plus new bugs/ lowered customer satisfaction) is not something they want to repeat every 5 years.

    And yet, Microsoft says they plan to own developer mind space? Are they on drugs then? Because this is not the way to go about it.
  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:39AM (#23623819)
    3 months are the quarterly earnings, reported quarterly by Microsoft, and you don't answer the specific question on whether their software is competitively priced or whether it's a monopoly.

    Earning that amount of money is great for Microsoft but that doesn't mean that it's a fair price.

  • Let's hope (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jeevesbond (1066726) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:40AM (#23623825) Homepage

    Does anyone else find it odd that Microsoft touted support for ODF then pushed back supporting OOXML [] to the next version of Office just before all these complaints landed on ISO's doormat?

    This, to my mind, shows two things:

    1. Microsoft believes these appeals/complaints are likely to succeed;
    2. they certainly have paid shills in a number of ISO committees, otherwise they wouldn't have seen this coming;

    Apparently representatives from Microsoft were stalling for time in Brazil []. So the support for ODF In Office seems like firefighting more than anything. The dropping of the Microsoft project, encoding books to OOXML [], would also seem to be a sign that Microsoft is giving up.

    *joke* If these appeals are successful, I for one will be on Alex Brown's blog, posting this video of Kryten [] in 'smug mode'. Muahaha. */joke*

  • by Eivind (15695) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:48AM (#23623867) Homepage
    The problem is both.

    ISO is not set up to handle an aggressive, resourceful and abusive applicant. Which meant they ended up doing something which everyone sees is patently nonsense when confronted by such an applicant. Using the "fast-track" for a "standard" that is over 6000 pages, incomplete, with literally thousands of objections to it, and for which there exist -zero- implementations is patent nonsense, and everyone sees it. (possible exception if they've been paid handsomely to develop a blind spot for it)

    Yes. MS is to blame for abusing a process. ISO is to blame for not having adequate defences against abuse.
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:07AM (#23623955)

    ...I would think the best way to combat this is to find some way to turn the situation upside down. What's Microsoft's business strategy for next-generation products, and how could this be used to cause problems for them?

    If Microsoft's understanding and control of the current arena is so complete that they can pull off something like this, then it's time to change the venue. Microsoft doesn't seem to do well in novel and fluid situations.

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:59AM (#23624205) Homepage Journal
    Sadly, I fear you are correct. However, there is another consideration. There ARE other standards bodies, and standards bodies are no different from commodities or currencies - once they are devalued, nobody wants to buy in. A standards body is only a tradable commodity whilst people are still buying in, same as with the dollar or the zlotty. If one of the other bodies were to become politically attractive to enough countries and enough businesses, the ISO currency collapses.

    It doesn't matter if it's not a total collapse, it just has to scare ISO. Scare them badly. So badly they stop messing around and pocketing back-handers, but go straight for a bit.

  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NickFortune (613926) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:30AM (#23624649) Homepage Journal

    Or was it because they never needed to buy votes?

    Although, of course, the closed nature of the proceedings mean that if the process was corrupt, most people would never have heard about it. Of course, the major difference here is that the MPEG standard is in fact workable and fit for purpose. I don't think there'd be nearly the level of outcry if the same were true of OOXML.

    Sadly though, one of the side effects of this whole sorry mess is likely to be a far more critical eye being cast upon other ISO standards, and a far more receptive hearing given to complaints about abuse of process in other areas. And of course, there's a danger of other groups being tarred with the same brush if their interactions with ISO are less than transparent.

    I don't think ISO have yet realised what this fiasco has cost them in terms of credibility. Now I'm beginning to wonder the fallout might extend further than anyone anticipated.

  • Re:Farewell ISO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:47AM (#23624729)

    None of which matters. Businesses don't care what format they use as long as they can pass it back and forth and it just works. That isn't going to change anytime soon.

    Businesses care because of what is happening now, with Office 2007 Microsoft is changing the format in a major way. It isn't decided by market forces, its decided by Microsoft, their customers have no say. Why the change? Microsoft gives various reasons, some may even be valid, but the big one is Microsoft wants to force an upgrade to improve their revenue stream. Companies don't like it that they can be forced by their supplier to replace their stock of a product for no reason but to improve the suppliers bottom line. If they can break free to a true standard then no one vendor can control when and if those businesses upgrade.

    Businesses and governments have a massive archive of old data in the older DOC formats. Only Microsoft can provide the tools to convert them. This conversion is going to cost those governments and bushinesses a fortune and that expenditure is not dictated by their desires but by Microsoft. They are now beginning to realize that this can happen any time Microsoft wishes to dictate it. Naturally they don't wish to be forced to spend vast quantities of money whenever it is convenient to Microsoft. With a real standard no one company can force such a conversion. No one company will be the sole provider of the tools to do the conversion. No one company can hold your data hostage by their control of the format.

    Governments and businesses are slowly coming to understand that right now they no longer control their data, Microsoft does. As that realization sinks in they begin to look for ways to take back control. A true standard helps to take back that control.

    Right now in recessionary times when governments and businesses want to conserve money is when Microsoft is seeing a need to force an upgrade and compel those governments and businesses to spend, just when they can least afford to. Also due to the timing of the EU vs Microsoft antitrust cases the eyes of the world are on Microsoft and people are being shown how Microsoft's behaviour is bad for governments and businesses.

    Companies that wish to compete for the Office software market have for sometime been educating companies and governments about these issue and slowly they are winning. Self interest is driving those companies to make the educational effort. Self interest is what makes the customers begin to care about standards. Self interest is why Microsoft has to fight so hard to continue their control of the Office market.

  • Re:zzz (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kalriath (849904) * on Monday June 02, 2008 @06:07AM (#23625071)
    Actually, it hasn't been debunked at all. There doesn't actually exist a version of which actually generates documents compliant with the ISO spec, but that's probably not all that bad (providing the "subsequent versions" which haven't been looked at by ISO don't go overboard).

    By contrast, the only thing preventing MSO from writing 100% compliant transitional OOXML is their insistence on using "true/false" instead of "yes/no" (or is that "on/off"?) - as noted here [] where Rob Weir actually makes a comment that only one change (or very few) would be needed to Office 07 to make it generate valid OOXML.
  • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:03AM (#23625809) Homepage
    Increasingly, this notion that what we geeks are hot and bothered about is "just software, after all" is going to be questioned.

    Many thousands of annual deaths are attributable to harmful drug interactions, and a lot of these result from the unavailability of standard Electronic Medical Records(EMR) across care providers.

    That's right, vendor lock-in and nonstandard documents are killing people.

    The (open) standardization of general-purpose office documents should have been completed a decade ago. EMRs should have been standardized 5 years ago. Many people have died unnecessarily.
  • by Bayesela (1151523) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:42AM (#23626835)
    "After the two-month appeal period, we now have four appeals -- Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela," Jonathan Buck, the director of communications for IEC, told on Monday,1000000121,39427754,00.htm []

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley