Microsoft Hits a New Low — Below the Belt

We have a lot of fun here on LinuxJournal.com, bringing you the news and poking fun at companies like Microsoft — but it's always intended as journalism with a lighthearted twist. This time, though, we're not being silly, because the subject matter is too serious for laughing.

We all know that Microsoft has engaged in questionable practices trying to get OOXML approved by the ISO. It's not acceptable that they've tried every dirty trick in the book to rig the vote, but if the latest reports are true, they're even more desperate than we thought.

According to the New Zealand Open Source Society, Matthew Holloway, a prominent member of NZOSS active in the debate over OOXML was singled out and — in their words — slurred by a Microsoft employee in an email sent to one of the groups advising national standards bodies. Standards New Zealand — the National Standards Body for New Zealand — is taking the matter very seriously; Chief Operating Officer Grant Thomas has written an email refuting the statements made about Matthew, and objecting to the email's implication that they were the views of Standards New Zealand.

While we don't have the original email, NZOSS has published Grant Thomas' response — with permission — and among the lines quoted from the original are "[Matthew's goal] has always been to de-rail OOXML rather than making it a better specification” and “while his efforts have been appreciated by the Standards NZ people on the OOXML advisory group his attitude and disingenuous approach (especially with regard to reaching outside NZ to stir things up) have not gone down well.”

Groklaw — ever vigilant — has an extended analysis of the matter, an interesting read to be sure. NZOSS has expressed concerns that other organizations and national bodies may have received the same email, and asks that anyone aware of a body receiving such please point them to the SNZ/NZOSS refutation.

In all honesty, it's really sad that a multi-billion dollar enterprise with the resources to swallow near-equals whole has to resort to ad hominem attacks on individuals to win a standards vote. Most of their maneuvers don't faze us at all, some come as a minor shock, but this is really surprising.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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Justin Ryan's picture

It does, and it doesn't [surprise me/"us"].

It doesn't surprise me at all that nothing is too low for Microsoft; I do make a lot of jokes about MS being evil, but really, they're funny because it's true.

What did surprise me, though, was that they'd stoop this low over OOXML; surely there has to be something more important than a standard nobody else is going to use regardless of adoption, and that they're not going to stop using even if it isn't adopted.

Beyond that, and no offense intended to Mr. Holloway, but he seems a bit of a small fish for them to be going after. Their attacks on Neeta Verma, chair of India's LITD15, came as no surprise at all, because she's a high-profile and high-power figure; picking on Matt Holloway, though, just doesn't make a lot of sense.

Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

This is the way they became a multi-billion dollar enterprise...

Billy Bathgates's picture

You may be one of the few who is surprised. Poke fun at M$ all you want, the truth is they are deadly serious. A bunch of amoral gang-bangers out to destroy anything in their way. And the corporate culture comes straight down from the founder.

This is the way they became a multi-billion dollar enterprise...

Billy Bathgates's picture

You may be one of the few who is surprised. Poke fun at M$ all you want, the truth is they are deadly serious. A bunch of amoral gang-bangers out to destroy anything in their way. And the corporate culture comes straight down from the founder.

This is the way they became a multi-billion dollar enterprise...

Billy Bathgates's picture

You may be one of the few who is surprised. Poke lighthearted fun at M$ all you want, the truth is they are deadly serious. A bunch of amoral gang-bangers out to destroy anything in their way. And the corporate culture comes straight down from the founder.

Not surprising. This is

Anonymous's picture

Not surprising. This is typical M$

Considering that M$ is ...

lonetwin's picture

Considering that M$ is accustomed to publicly maligning the names of respected people who they find disagreeable, this is hardly surprising. The case mentioned in the link is in retaliation to their loss of face.

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