Microsoft's Great Besmirching

I have been covering Microsoft for over 25 years - I've even written a few books about Windows. During that time, I've developed a certain respect for a company that just doesn't give up, and whose ability to spin surpasses even that of politicians. To be sure, Microsoft has crossed the line several times, but it has always worked within the system, however much it has attempted to use it for its own ends. No more: in the course of trying to force OOXML through the ISO fast-track process, it has finally gone further and attacked the system itself; in the process it has destroyed the credibility of the ISO, with serious knock-on consequences for the whole concept of open standards.

Of course, all companies try to bend the rules in the their favour, and it would be unfair to pick on Microsoft for doing the same. But what has happened over the last year and a half goes so far beyond the accepted rough and tumble of the standards game that cumulatively it can only be considered as an all-out attack on the machinery of standards-making. Consider the evidence.

Things got off to a bad start back in 2007, just before the original vote on whether OOXML should become an ISO standard, when the following emerged:

Microsoft Corp. admitted Wednesday that an employee at its Swedish subsidiary offered monetary compensation to partners for voting in favor of the Office Open XML document format's approval as an ISO standard.

Shortly after OOXML failed the first time to obtain enough votes to become an ISO standard, Rob Weir pointed out something rather strange had happened. Now, Weir works for IBM, an ODF supporter, and might therefore be considered biased against OOXML, but what he presented were facts, not opinions. Examining the composition over time of the JTC1 committee that voted on OOXML, he saw that the so-called "P" members - the ones with the greatest clout - had grown very suddenly just a few weeks before the first vote:

We can look at this graphically as well, showing the P-member composition of JTC1 over time and how they ultimately voted. As you see, JTC1 was overwhelmingly against OOXML until the blip at the very end, when Kazakhstan, etc. joined.

This sudden influx of "P" members with little interest in the general business of refining and approving standards has already had a negative impact on the running of the ISO. Here's what Martin Bryan, the convenor of the ISO JTC1 workgroup had to say soon afterwards:

The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 [OOXML] as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

He concluded by warning:

The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.

The problems of trying to fast-track a specification of 6000 pages became clear at the February 2008 Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM), which was intended to resolve outstanding problems with the proposed standard so that it could be approved. As noted standards expert Andy Updegrove explained:

A rather incredible week in Geneva has just ended, bringing to a close the Herculean task assumed by the over 100 delegates from 32 countries that attended the BRM. That challenge, of course, was how to productively resolve the more than 1,100 comments (after elimination of duplicates) registered by the 87 National Bodies that voted last summer with respect to a specification that itself exceeded 6,000 pages.

His summary was as follows:

Only a very small percentage of the proposed dispositions were discussed in detail, amended and approved by the delegations in attendance at the BRM, indicating the inability of OOXML to be adequately addressed within the "Fast Track" process

One reason why OOXML was not "adequately addressed" was the following:

Acknowledging the impossibility of achieving the stated goal of a BRM (e.g, to carefully review each proposed disposition and reach consensus on an appropriate resolution), a proposal was made on Wednesday to approve all proposed resolutions in a single vote before the end of the BRM, thus nominally "resolving" each remaining proposed disposition without any discussion at all.

That is, around 900 proposed resolutions were nominally dealt with in a completely summary fashion - hardly appropriate for something aspiring to the condition of an international standard. Despite this glaring omission, the final vote on whether OOXML should be given fast-track approval went ahead, and it was at this point that Microsoft went into overdrive, using every means possible to get enough "yes" votes from the "P" members. Here's a selection of some of the more extraordinary goings-on around the world.

In New Zealand, Microsoft tried to cast aspersions on someone who had the temerity to oppose it, leading to this complaint from Standards New Zealand:

We have been forwarded your email of 12 March to [national computer society] relating to Matthew Holloway communications with the [national computer society].

Your email suggests that Matthew is “far from objective” that his goal “has always been to de-rail OOXML rather than making it a better specification” and that this “has clouded a lot of his thinking”.

Whilst you are entitled to your opinions, we do not share them. We are most concerned about your statement that “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”

Your statements imply that you are relaying the views of Standards New Zealand and we ask you rectify this misrepresentation immediately. We have found Matthew to be an extremely valuable member of our advisory group and believe that he has acted with integrity as an advisory group member.

It took a similar tack in India:

At the meeting held on 20th March 2008, we were informed that Microsoft has complained to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and to the apex office of the country about the constitution of the committee and also cast aspersions on the impartiality of the chairperson of LITD15, Mrs. Neeta Verma. The chairperson was furious and offered to step down from her post. She pointed out that the committee has met numerous times and Microsoft never brought this issue up in front of the committee nor did they check the facts with her or her organization before complaining to the apex office.

Elsewhere, it was more inventive. Doug Mahugh, a "Senior Product Manager at Microsoft specializing in Office client interoperability and the Open XML file formats", turned up at a meeting of one of Malaysia's technical committees brandishing a business card that proclaimed him a vice-president of the Malaysian arm of an international body called the IASA, and tried to use it to claim a place in the meeting. As one of the Malaysian members of that committee put it:

to pass off a foreigner as a Malaysian organisation's representative? That's really stretching it, dudes.

Other countries also saw the introduction of some remarkable procedural contortions to push through approval of OOXML in the face of opposition. In Germany, for example, the voting process was made so complicated that it was almost impossible to change from its original "yes" to "no"; here's just a small sample:

Since the vote of the working group was "yes", the steering committee could only vote on the question whether the report of the chairman of that group "is acknowledged with agreement" - a biased report which did not tell about the obvious problems at the BRM. This question had the sole purpose of requiring people to offend the chairman of the working group if they voted against OOXML (i.e. to vote "abstain" at ISO). Only IF you voted not to agree on that report (i.e. were willing to offend the chairman) were you eligible to vote "yes" to the next question, which asked whether there were severe deficiencies in the procedures. Even then, beause of the way the vote had been set up, severe deficiencies in procedure would still not be an adequate reason to change the vote of the working group from YES to NO, but only to a German ABSTAIN. This and strong pressure forced several people to change their vote after having cast their vote.

But my overall favourite has to be this:

Here's an article from Norway, and the translation of the title of the article is, "Scandal in Standards Norway. I didn't write that headline. They did. And here's why. The article says there should be an investigation of the irregularities there, because while there were only two votes to approve, from Microsoft and a business partner, Statoilhydro, and all the others voted no, 21 votes, they approved anyway.

So what have we got as a result of all these machinations? Well, assuming it's passed (it's still not clear, as I write), a standard that is so broken that even if anyone else tried to implement its 6000 pages, they couldn't. Which is precisely what Microsoft wants: OOXML will be an ISO standard that only one company is able to implement fully. But it's better than that. Microsoft doesn't even have to stick with its new "standard": it can simply change OOXML as it wishes, and submit it again to the ISO for approval as an updated "standard"; meanwhile, it can sell its "new and improved " OOXML that isn't exactly a standard, but soon will be, so why worry about the details?

In a sense, that's what Microsoft has been doing for the last decade anyway, with a de facto rather than de jure standard. So it won't change much, even if ODF's progress will be set back somewhat as momentum keeps Microsoft Office in use. But along the way, something terrible has happened: Microsoft has managed to besmirch the entire ISO process, which is now effectively worthless. Microsoft has shown that it knows how to get what it wants there, and will doubtless be applying that knowledge to further "standards" in the future. ISO has turned from being a kind of gold standard, into a worthless rubber stamp wielded at the behest of the rich and ruthless.

But is not only the ISO that Microsoft has sullied. It has also sullied itself, at a time when the perceived value of its brand is already plummeting. It may have been successful in somehow persuading various National Bodies to see its point of view, but it seems not to have noticed that something has changed from the good old days of meetings behind closed doors. In the age of the blog it is simply impossible to keep this stuff locked up. As the days and months go by, I predict that more and more and more details will emerge about what really happened. And then the real battle begins.

Leaving aside the intriguing idea that approving two, rival document standards may fall foul of the World Trade Organisation, there is also the interesting prospect of the EU getting interested. Some in Denmark have have already already complained to the EU about OOXML, and a posting from Poland claims that "the European Commission is currently investingating the Polish OOXML standarization process." And this is on top of an earlier statement from the European Commission that it would be examining "whether Microsoft's new file format Office Open XML, as implemented in Office, is sufficiently interoperable with competitors' products." Microsoft may have won the ISO battle, but it could well end up losing the rather more important war with the European Commission, which has already shown itself deeply unimpressed with Microsoft's approach to business.

Writing to MEPs (if you're European) or to Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition, (if you're not) is one obvious action we can all take to press for an independent, transparent inquiry into possible irregularities during the OOXML voting process in Europe. But I think there's something just as important that we need to start doing immediately.

It is striking that some parts of Microsoft have been making soothing noises to the open source world, speaking of their desire to work alongside free software projects and to ensure "interoperability" - a favourite concept at the moment - between the open and closed worlds. Those voices have become increasingly seductive to some, especially in the open source business world, who would rather work with than against the Seattle behemoth, and who seem to believe that Microsoft is genuine in its offers. But if the whole sorry OOXML saga shows anything, it is Microsoft's deep and utter contempt for the whole idea of an open, collaborative process based on mutual respect and consensus. Henceforth, members of the open source community must view with deep cynicism all - not just some - offers by Microsoft to work more closely with the free software world. If they don't, they could find themselves used and abused just like the once famous, and now former, International Standards Organisation.

Glyn Moody writes about open source at opendotdotdot.


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Accuracy about what happened in Norway

Fredrik E. Nilsen's picture

Glyn Wrote:

Here's an article from Norway, and the translation of the title of the article is, "Scandal in Standards Norway. I didn't write that headline. They did. And here's why. The article says there should be an investigation of the irregularities there, because while there were only two votes to approve, from Microsoft and a business partner, Statoilhydro, and all the others voted no, 21 votes, they approved anyway.

First: The title is not just a title, it's a quote of one of the partisipants in the Norwegian SN K/185 committee. There is a major difference between a headline and a quote, don't you think?

Second: The article does not say there should be an investigation. One of the persons interviewed (Haakon Wium Lie) states (translated): "Someone should evaluate Standard Norge and the process when they can make a horrendous decision like this". Again: a major difference and you should check your sources a bit better.

Third: As everyone in the Norwegian committee were aware of, the decision was not supposed to be made by voting. The SN K/185 committee gives their arguments and advice to Standard Norge and Standard Norge makes the decision, based on the weight of the arguments, not on the number of people for or against. This was perfectly clear to all members of the committee.

I certainly hope you have checked your facts better in the rest of your article.

Groklaw link

Glyn Moody's picture

Well, if you follow the link given you'll see that I was quoting directly from Groklaw, which is a well-respected source. I wasn't claiming to have checked their fact-checking - this is a blog, which means that it's essentially a tapestry of other people's own posts. Had it been a standalone article I would have gone to the original sources, but that's not how blogging, with its highly-compressed timescales, works.

Re: Groklaw link

Fredrik E. Nilsen's picture

Of course. This just shows that you never should ruin a good story by checking the facts. Using Groklaw as your sole source of information in this matter is a bit naive IMO. I guess you will update the article to reflect what really happened and not the "true story" from the well-respected Groklaw.

Of course

Glyn Moody's picture

For example, there's always this:

Formal protest regarding the Norwegian vote on ISO/IEC DIS 29500

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.

Because of this irregularity, a call has been made for an investigation by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry with a view to changing the vote.

I hereby request that the Norwegian decision be suspended pending the results of this investigation.

Yours sincerely,
Steve Pepper
Chairman, SN/K185 (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34 mirror committee)

Even more details about Norway

Glyn Moody's picture

Provided here.

Thank you.

PeterKraus's picture

Thank you for writing such a great summary. I am currently using it to explain my mood to my friends.

This was mindfucking showdown of power of wealth. Duh.

OOXML "Approved" - Confirmation

Glyn Moody's picture

Sadly, it seems confirmed now.

Ballot information

Glyn Moody's picture

I should have said that this came from Alan Lord, to whom thanks. He has put the main ballot information up on his site.

SOS! Please help to save us from our own evil corporation!

Shannon_VanWagner's picture

Dear Ms. Kroes and anyone else that can help us,

I was looking at the article below, which shows how much the process
of accepting Microsoft's OOXML as an ISO standard is ruining the
reputation for the ISO organization as a whole and I hoped you can

Microsoft is dirty when it comes to being a fair competitor and it's
restricting the progress of computing technology everywhere.

Microsoft is willing to stop at no end to keep their restrictive ways
in place to continue to charge money to businesses and people
everywhere for software that can be absolutely free and it's time
someone do something about it.

Microsoft is using every lever possible to corrupt the ISO
organization into "fast-track" approving their 6000 page standard as
an ISO standard:

After seeing your work in action, I am convinced that you are the
person who can do something about this problem, please check into it
and provide whatever support you can to stop this criminal
organization (Microsoft) from tainting years of computer science by
once again monopolizing the playing field.

Thank you.


Shannon VanWagner
Linux Enthusiast and IT Professional

Isn't it sad that those of

Anonymous's picture

Isn't it sad that those of us in America have to hope that agencies on the other side of the pond will help to control corporations in our country? It really makes me feel that maybe my government is for sale to the highest bidder, and will turn a blind eye as long as you pay them enough.

Denmark starting to look like Norway...

Lars Bjerregaard's picture

Things are brewing rapidly in Denmark right now, after the Danish Standards org. on Friday submitted a Yes, inspite of appearent big disagreements in the group. Has all the hallmarks of what happened in Norway. Expect to hear more...

Please keep us informed

Glyn Moody's picture

The best thing we can all do now is to gather as much information about what has happened in each country: that way, it will be easier to put together a case for investigating them later once the dust has settled.

ISO puts standard for Microsoft OOXML document formats on HOLD

Anonymous's picture

ISO puts standard for Microsoft's OOXML document formats on hold
Leslie D'Monte / Mumbai June 12, 2008, 0:30 IST

"In another setback to software giant Microsoft, it will have to wait for "several months" before the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) can take a final decision on whether its Office Open XML (OOXML) file format will be an international standard or not."


"The ‘no' from India could make it difficult for Microsoft to get government business since governments worldwide, including India, prefer standards and are wary of holding digital data in proprietary formats, which could make them hostage to a software vendor. States such as Delhi, Kerala and others from the North-East are heavy adopters of ODF file formats which are open and free (excluding maintenance and support)."

Brazil’s letter to ISO on OOXML

Anonymous's picture

Brazil’s letter to ISO on OOXML

South Africa, 11:33 am, Wed Jun 4
Edited by Alastair Otter Tips:

This is an unedited version of the letter Brazil sent to the ISO for the decision of the Ballot Resolution Meeting to be reconsidered.

Dear Sirs,

"The Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), as a P member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, would like to present, to ISO/IEC/JTC1 and ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, this appeal for reconsideration of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 final result.

This appeal is based on two main considerations:

1.Brazil considers that the BRM was inconclusive.

2.Brazil considers that the final version of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text shall be released immediately."....

Venezuela - and possibly Denmark - file appeals of OOXML

Anonymous's picture

Venezuela - and possibly Denmark - file appeals of OOXML

Posted by Richard Koman @ June 2, 2008 @ 1:26 PM

"This really can’t come as much of a surprise, but the list of countries protesting the ISO approval of OOXML is getting longer. Venezuela’s appeal has been accepted by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) but the jury is still out on Denmark..."

More appeals filed over OOXML, Brazil joins South Africa, India

Anonymous's picture

More appeals filed over OOXML, Brazil joins South Africa, India
Submitted by Microsoft Subnet on Sat, 05/31/2008 - 1:33pm.

"Brazil has filed a letter asking that ISO's approval of OOXML be reconsidered. South Africa was the first to file a formal appeal. India has also filed an appeal and now Brazil ODFjoins the list, reports Groklaw and Andy Updegrove's blog (the Standards blog at ). Groklaw writes:

"They ask that the approval be 'reconsidered,' and believe it or not, it was a very heated meeting, and at the end one member of the committee quit in disgust that the letter wasn't even stronger. It seems there actually is a limit to how much Microsoft can push the entire world around ... The block voting bothered Brazil. They went to discuss technical issues, not vote without a chance to discuss."

Apparently, some of Brazil's technical objections seemed to vanish from the list of objections as well... "

OOXML -- dead format walking?

Anonymous's picture

OOXML -- dead format walking?
May 28, 2008

"Microsoft's controversial OOXML document format is not going anywhere, observes Jason Brooks in a blog posting at eWEEK. Brooks points to discrepancies between the ISO-approved version of the format and that used in Office 97 in suggesting that OOXML hardly measures up with ODF (Open Document Format).

First, some background. Microsoft has created an empire by controlling the formats used for office documents. With each Office "ugrade" comes a new proprietary format that traps documents, once opened, preventing them from being opened again in the old format. Thus, the Redmond giant holds documents hostage, keeping users on a perpetual upgrade treadmill. Unless you upgrade, you can't share documents with others. It's as simple as that."

South Africa appeals against ISO’s OOXML decision

Anonymous's picture

South Africa appeals against ISO’s OOXML decision

Alastair in standards
May 23, 2008 03:21 pm

"UPDATED: The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has filed an appeal against the ISO decision to accept Microsoft’s Office OpenXML (OOXML) as an international standard. South Africa is the first country to appeal the decision within the stipulated 60-day appeal period. "

Alliance Weighs In on Microsoft Interoperability in Education

Anonymous's picture

Alliance Weighs In on Microsoft Interoperability in Education

by Dave Nagel

"As we reported last week, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), a group that advises the British government on education technology issues, referred a complaint to the European Commission about the impact of Microsoft's interoperability issues in education. Now the ODF (OpenDocument Format) Alliance is stepping in with support for Becta's move. Microsoft, for its part, responded today by saying that it wholly supports interoperability and will work to resolve the issues raised by the groups."

Danish vote on OOXML standard disputed by committee member

Anonymous's picture

Skrevet av Mads Elkaer
16.05.2008 kl 12:28 | IDG News Service
Danish vote on OOXML standard disputed by committee member

"By voting to adopt a standard based on Microsoft's OOXML document format, the Danish national standards body has approved an unknown text against the wishes of the main representatives on its own technical committee, according to a technical committee representative from the Danish city of Aarhus. He has now made a formal complaint to Dansk Standard about the OOXML vote."

Danish vote on OOXML standard disputed by committee member

Anonymous's picture

Skrevet av Mads Elkaer
16.05.2008 kl 12:28 | IDG News Service
Danish vote on OOXML standard disputed by committee member

"By voting to adopt a standard based on Microsoft's OOXML document format, the Danish national standards body has approved an unknown text against the wishes of the main representatives on its own technical committee, according to a technical committee representative from the Danish city of Aarhus. He has now made a formal complaint to Dansk Standard about the OOXML vote."

Britain complains to EU about Microsoft file system

Anonymous's picture

Britain complains to EU about Microsoft file system



"A British watchdog agency said Tuesday it had complained to European Union regulators that Microsoft Corp.'s new file format for storing documents discouraged competition.

Britain's agency for education and information technology said it wanted to help the EU with an investigation it launched in January into whether the software giant deliberately withheld information from rivals."

BSI faces High Court challenge over OOXML U-turn

Anonymous's picture

BSI faces High Court challenge over OOXML U-turn
No formal appeal to ISO yet, though
By Kelly Fiveash
Published Thursday 1st May 2008 13:02 GMT

"The UK's Unix User Group (UKUUG) has convinced the High Court to carry out a judicial review of the British Standard Institute's decision to vote in favour of Microsoft's controversial Office Open XML (OOXML) specification.

The UKUUG is calling for the BSI to reverse its vote at the International Standards Organisation (ISO), which approved OOXML as a standard early last month".....

....."He added that the group hopes to see individuals in other countries mount similar challenges against national standards bodies in order to force the ISO to "sit up and take notice".

Perhaps more significantly, the ISO in April offered a two month window in which national standards bodies could lodge a formal appeal against OOXML proceeding to publication. The clock is ticking, and no one has stepped forward with a complaint yet."

Microsoft Denies Threatening to Withdraw Funding

Anonymous's picture

Microsoft Denies Threatening to Withdraw Funding

Rebecca Wanjiku, IDG News Service
Monday, April 21, 2008 10:10 AM PDT

"However, the denial was a contradiction to comments by Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, who said that Microsoft may have made comments regarding funding, though not directly or in writing." .....

....."Technology experts who were active in the discussions on OOXML were furious that Microsoft wanted Kenya to vote "yes" yet the committee had decided that Kenya should abstain from voting." .....

Microsoft Office 2007 Fails OOXML Conformance Tests

Anonymous's picture

Microsoft Office 2007 Fails OOXML Conformance Tests, Alex Brown Admits, Hopes For the Best
Monday, April 21 2008 @ 09:42 AM EDT

"This takes the cake. Alex Brown has just admitted on his Griffin Brown blog and further to ZDNET UK's Peter Judge that Microsoft Office 2007 has failed two OOXML conformance tests he ran. ".....

....." "17MB (around 122,000) of invalidity messages" in the strict test; less in a "transitional" model, meaning one no one on the planet will be using, since the entire point of the BRM was to fix stuff and none of those fixes are yet incorporated into Microsoft Office 2007. And by the time they are, will Microsoft Office 2007 have moved on, so we can continue to play catch up with Microsoft forever and a day? Isn't that what standards are supposed to prevent? Tim Bray, the man who invented XML, told us already not to hold our breath for Microsoft to fervently fix OOXML:".......

The Norway Vote - What really happened

Anonymous's picture

"The Norway Vote - What really happened

The process which led to Norway’s Yes vote on OOXML was so surrealistic that it deserves to be recorded for posterity. Here’s my version of the story.

It is not impartial. I was the Chairman of the Norwegian mirror committee for SC34 (K185) for 13 years until resigning a couple of weeks ago in protest against Standard Norway’s decision to vote Yes." ...

Critics brand OOXML a Microsoft 'marketing tool'

Anonymous's picture

Critics brand OOXML a Microsoft 'marketing tool'

Tom Espiner

Published: 18 Apr 2008 17:00 BST

"The developer of XML and a former International Organization for Standardization committee chair have both claimed that Microsoft was interested in having Office Open XML accredited as an international standard in order to forward the company's wider interests."

OOXML appeal possible, but looks unlikely

Anonymous's picture

April 17th, 2008
OOXML appeal possible, but looks unlikely

Posted by Paula Rooney @ 7:03 am

"The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has not received a formal appeal of its approval of Office Open XML as a standard, but it looks more unlikely with each day that passes."

If there's such strong disagreement, ...

Anonymous's picture

If there's such strong disagreement, OOXML shouldn't have been fast tracked

As I said, if there is such strong disagreement about the fact that there are so many flaws, irregularities, and breaches of ISO's core mandate by OOXML, then OOXML shouldn't have been fast tracked.

A week in the life of Open XML

Anonymous's picture

A week in the life of Open XML
By Kelly Fiveash
11 Apr 2008 16:16

"On Wednesday rage spilled out onto the usually quiet streets of Oslo where around 60 data experts, led by ex-chairman of the Norwegian Standards Institute (NSI) Steve Pepper, protested about the approval of the contentious file format.

Pepper stepped down from his role at the NSI last week following the group’s U-turn on OXML. It had voted, in September last year, to reject the specification as a standard.

During the protest Pepper, an advocate of ODF, which is used by IBM and Sun Microsystems among others, delivered a speech* outlining why he opposed OXML’s approval with the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) as a standard.

He said: “ODF was developed... through an open and democratic process. But one important player was absent from that process. The vendor who dominates this market, Microsoft, refused to participate, and they have refused to support ODF since it became a standard.

“Instead they decided to create a competing standard called OOXML and to use Ecma as a back door into ISO.”

Pepper said that he would continue to oppose the ISO’s approval of Microsoft’s file format because “it is not in the interests of users like you and me to have two standards for the same purpose”. "

EU Parliament Member Wants to Ban Microsoft Bids

Anonymous's picture

April 10, 2008

EU Parliament Member Wants to Ban Microsoft Bids
By Stuart J. Johnston

"This week, Heidi Rühle, a member of Germany's Green Party who serves in the European Union's (EU) Parliament -- the EU's legislative branch -- filed a "question" with the EC in that regard. By doing so, she is officially asking the EC to determine whether the EU's Court of First Instance's (CFI) finding in September that Microsoft had, in fact, abused its monopoly power should cause a legally prescribed procurement ban to kick in."

Geeks take to the street ...

Anonymous's picture

"First published: 10 Apr 2008, 15:50 AFTENPOSTEN

Geeks take to the street against Microsoft standard
IT types and ordinary PC users alike are voicing their protest against Norway's vote to adopt the OOXML format as the international open standard for documents."

Emerging markets reject OOXML

Anonymous's picture

Emerging markets reject OOXML

4 April 2008

"The emerging markets all have national IT industries that are open and not as highly influenced by the few large multinationals the established markets are relying on, he says. “This allowed the emerging market standards bodies to have the standard tested and analysed by experienced and independent specialists and not be dominated.”"

Critics Speak Out On ISO's OOXML Ruling

Anonymous's picture

Critics Speak Out On ISO's OOXML Ruling

By Nathan Eddy, ChannelWeb
3:25 PM EDT Thu. Apr. 03, 2008

EU investigating OOXML vote

Anonymous's picture

EU investigating OOXML vote

Posted by Richard Koman @ April 2, 2008 @ 4:08 PM

Countries protest OOXML result

Anonymous's picture

Countries protest OOXML result

Karen Dearne | April 02, 2008

"MICROSOFT may have to resist popping the champagne cork over gaining ISO approval for its controversial Office Open XML file format as an international standard."

Norweigan civil war: Call to recall OOXML ‘yes’ vote

Anonymous's picture

Norweigan civil war: Call to recall OOXML ‘yes’ vote

Posted by Richard Koman @ March 31, 2008 @ 6:51 PM

Just the beginning

Glyn Moody's picture


Petition to United Nations

Volodymyr Lisivka's picture

We should create petition to United Nations organization to take action against Microsoft company, because they bribe whole nations. Only United Nations can stop this kind of corruption.

Sorry, baby, you are just 1)

RandyDandy's picture

Sorry, baby, you are just 1) naive, (2) stupid, (3) both. Sincerely, take your medicine regulary.

Act like you are intelligent

kenholmz's picture

If you are not 1) 2) or 3) and you are not on medication for them, please provide proof in the form of not acting as though you are 1) 2) or 3) and are taking medication for those maladies. Just inform the poor soul that the UN is good for not much, and certainly not good for us in this particular instance. As for the ISO ....


Justin Ryan's picture


(I was going to do a Breaking News post on the scandal, but you've taken the words, quite elegantly, right out of my mouth.)

Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

An excellent summary of a

Alex Kavanagh's picture

An excellent summary of a very depressing situation. Microsoft have seriously "crossed the line". Surely, it has to get out there; the devaluation of ISO, and (apparently) the BSI can't be allowed to go unnoticed. What is particularly galling is that the senior management of Microsoft (apparently) seem to have systematically decided to undermine a standards body on an international scale, muddying both its reputation in the process.

In my naivety, I also think that this means that ISO will need to completely review its own processes and how it will prevent a single organisation dictating what can and can't become a globally approved standard. However, one can't help feeling, perhaps cynically, that perhaps ISO has always worked this way to some extent, and this episode has merely cast a very bright light on it.

PS The captcha system must work well; I've failed it four times so far.

Please use whatever

Anonymous's picture

Please use whatever influence you have to get this information into the hands of some news magazine like "60 Minutes". It seems this kind of behavior would have them chomping at the bits to investigate.... Unless they are under the influence of Microsoft's spell as well.

For my part, this is the last straw. two of my seven home computers already run Linux. By this weekend they will all be changed over. I will never again by any product with the name Microsoft on it.... My personal ethic will no longer allow me to do business with any company displaying this sort of business ethic.

Whatever = you

Glyn Moody's picture

The secret is just get enough of a groundswell of indignation and information sloshing around so that even the mainstream media has to take notice. So: blog about it, write to people about it, talk about it - it all helps get the message out.

Great summing up of the process to date.

The Open Sourcerer's picture


eloquent, articulate and insightful as always.


ISO JTC1 new P-members

Franco Merletti's picture

The following countries were accepted by ISO JTC1 as a Participating country ( with a heavy power of vote and decision in this kind of processes ) a few days before closing of September/2007 first ballot of DIS 29500 fast-tracking. They have 0 ( zero ) background in Document and Description Languages ( ISO JTC1 expertise ) and 0 ( zero ) precedent in standardization work.

Since then, they have systematically voted "unconditional yes" to everything regarding DIS 29500 ( OOXML ). They are just Microsoft pawns in the standardization by corporation game:

Jamaica island
Cyprus island
Malta island

Please can you find the meeting minutes of Jamaica National Body, with the detail of the technical meetings and discussion of the 6000 pages of OOXML plus the 2000 pages of ECMA fixes + 400 pages of BRM changes?

I was joking, please don't search it.


Stop it

Glyn Moody's picture

I shall start blushing soon with all these kind words....


Italo Vignoli's picture

Glyn, this is by far the best article I've read on the subject. I will blog about it, because I think you've perfectly expressed the feelings of the "moderate" part of the open source community about the OOXML standardization process. Ciao, Italo