Microsoft Hits a New Low — Below the Belt

We have a lot of fun here on, 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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