Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Government News

EU's Anti-Trust Investigation of OOXML Continues 111

Posted by kdawson
from the listening-for-the-sound-of-the-fat-lady dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Since January, the EU has been investigating whether Microsoft broke anti-trust laws while advocating OOXML. That investigation continues following its passage as a standard. Meanwhile, the ISO approval of OOXML is being appealed, so Microsoft hasn't won just yet."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU's Anti-Trust Investigation of OOXML Continues

Comments Filter:
  • Cramped comments (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:26AM (#22950456) Homepage
    Am I the only one who is experiencing cramped comments? About 1/5 of the page is just a margin.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Tastecicles (1153671)
      nothi ng to see h ere m ove a long.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PinkyDead (862370)
      That's OOXML for you.

      You were warned - but no, you knew better. I have no sympa<formatLikeWord95> D'oh!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:17AM (#22951004)

      Am I the only one who is experiencing cramped comments? About 1/5 of the page is just a margin.

      It's even fuglier in Classic Mode [slashdot.org]. It's fugly in classic-threaded-mode, and utterly baffling [slashdot.org] in classic-flat-mode.

      Whatever the Gods did, could they please undo it? The only bars I want to see are the single bars to the left of the blockquoted comments.

      On a high-contrast color scheme (or even just turning document-specified colors off), it's even worse - the 3/4-box is thick and black around some comments, and absent on others, resulting in something extremely distracting.

      It seems that all the complaints about the differences in style on idle.slashdot.org are going to have to be rehashed again.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        On top of which, for some reason both this style and the atrocious crap that is "idle" both prevent Firefox from scrolling the page smoothly on my machine. Everything is horrible and jumpy and hard to follow. (Core duo, 1GB RAM, 2.6 kernel, Firefox 2.0.0.13)
  • Appeal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BACPro (206388) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:38AM (#22950590)
    After having RTFA (sorry), I don't see where anybody is appealing the decision, yet.

    IBM issued a broad support statement so as to leave all doors open.

    FSFE said this must not happen again...

    Nobody issued a statement indicating an appeal had been filed.
    • Re:Appeal? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ngarrang (1023425) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:49AM (#22950706) Journal
      Give it some time. The Groklaw article did state that there is a 2-month period for appeals to be filed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zeinfeld (263942)
        The Groklaw article did state that there is a 2-month period for appeals to be filed.

        Yes, but who has standing to file an appeal here? TFA says ISO national bodies. That would be a pretty difficult challenge to mount.

        As with the Netscape use of the justice dept to go after Microsoft, I remain very unimpressed by companies that attempt to win commercial battles by involving government. Netscape did not help the anti-trust case against Microsoft, on the contrary, they caused the DoJ to abandon a strong ca

        • Re:Appeal? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by oliderid (710055) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:25AM (#22951092) Journal
          The risk here is that the EU is going to look at this from a protectionist point of view. They have an opportunity to establish some non-tarrif trade barriers here and there is little opportunity for the US to complain.

          European anti-competitive laws are mainly aimed at European countries/companies.

          There are still strong protectionnist tendencies amongst european countries against each other.

          For example, last week, the Italian state can't refund the nearly bankrupted Air Italia because of these laws. They are almost "forced" to sell it to Air France/KLM (privately held)

          Anti-trust laws are also mainly aimed at European companies.

          So basically the European union is the only body in Europe promoting/reinforcing free/fair trades. Its main mission is to guarantee fair play amongst its members. American companies having European acitivites experience it from time to time. Here on slashdot microsoft makes headlines.

          I noticed few months ago that Novell (I think, anyway It was an American company with open source based services) won a mid sized European Commission contract against european companies. Adobe is well established in the European commissions and it is making a lot (really a lot) of money.

          If you play fair, you are welcome. If you don't you get fines.That's quite simple really.
        • Re:Appeal? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob&hotmail,com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:59AM (#22951488) Journal
          Yes, but who has standing to file an appeal here? TFA says ISO national bodies.

          Norway, Germany, Poland Romania and many others are reporting irregularities and stacking in their committees. The memo from Comes v Microsoft [groklaw.net] [pdf warning] describes pretty excatly what happened in those meetings.

          A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select the panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can't expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only "independent ISVs" on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed â" just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the "real world." Sounds marvelously independent doesn't it? In fact, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause.

          Considerable poltiical influence was brought to bear too. Bill Gates campaigned in Denmark, where he is a friend of the Prime Minister. Sarkozy himself intervened [noooxml.org] on Microsoft's behalf in France.

          This topic has started to expose just how much influence Microsoft has with governments, and shows they're willing to meddle with national sovereignty.

          It's not going to take too much to turn it into a cause celebre.

          • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Norway, Germany, Poland Romania and many others are reporting irregularities and stacking in their committees. The memo from Comes v Microsoft [groklaw.net] [pdf warning] describes pretty excatly what happened in those meetings.

            I've read so much fantasy about the Norway vote that I'm beginning to feel dirty that we are on the wrong side of the FUD machine. Yes the "committee" in Norway was stacked. As reported elsewhere it was stacked 80% in Microsofts disfavour. This was a free-to-join forum for input a

          • by Zeinfeld (263942)
            Considerable poltiical influence was brought to bear too. Bill Gates campaigned in Denmark, where he is a friend of the Prime Minister. Sarkozy himself intervened on Microsoft's behalf in France.

            So? If I was a member of a national standards body and the Minister, Prime Minister or President called me up I would take it pretty seriously because they have a democratic mandate and I don't.

            This is the flip side of trying to use the ISO process to legitimize ODF and delegitimize OOXML. The reason for this ca

            • Re:Appeal? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @08:43PM (#22958756)

              The reason for this campaign was from start to finish to attempt to force governments to use ODF in place of OOXML and thus force the use of Open Office.
              No, I completely disagree with this. There is no reason that Microsoft Office can not support ODF, infact it already does with a plugin so why would this block or change governments from using Microsoft Office if they want to use it?

              OOXML was really crap when it was first submitted and we all don't really know if that has changed much as the fixes haven't really been looked at in any detail. Hence why use a subpar format which is heavily based on Microsoft Office simply because Microsoft feels that it's a competition between Closed vs Open Source?

              It's not a competition, this has nothing to do with Open Source, it's about a file format being implementable or not and about being realistic. The OOXML format ISO is never going to be used, even by Microsoft, that's just realistic expectation based on their past. What's going to happen is this... How Microsoft Office renders your exported files is going to determine the ISO format and thus nothing will actually be changed from today, where Microsoft gets to make the standard that everyone follows.

              So, why is it such a bad thing to use ODF which isn't going to be heavily influenced like OOXML is by a single vendor? Although ODF was originally in Open Office implementations of ODF are so widespread in other office suites and Open Office's popularity is so small that there is no chance that Open Office could ever control the ODF spec like Microsoft could with OOXML.
              • by Zeinfeld (263942)
                It's not a competition, this has nothing to do with Open Source, it's about a file format being implementable or not and about being realistic.

                Oh come on, and I suppose you think the invasion of Iraq is all about spreading democracy and that O.J. Simpson went to the hotel room to find information on the real killers.

                Since when has there been such a desperate concern that the first version of a document format specification might have some technical issues?

                I don't object to people wanting to put the sq

          • Bill Gates campaigned in Denmark, where he is a friend of the Prime Minister.

            WTF?!

            Whoever gave you that idea? As far as I recall, Bill Gates has only met with the Danish Prime Minister once. That happened back in the days when the EU discussed software patents, and the tone was supposedly less than friendly: Gates tried to Blackmail Danish Government [slashdot.org]

        • Netscape was good with standards.
          I wont hold it against them when they added their own little touches like and .
          Although those two examples were horrible. ;)
    • by Adaptux (1235736) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:28AM (#22951142)

      After having RTFA (sorry), I don't see where anybody is appealing the decision, yet.
      The main problem with appealing is that at the ISO/IEC JTC1 level you cannot really file an appeal about the decision-making processes in the national standardization bodies. The reason for this is that the national standardization organizations are not branches of ISO. The power structure is the other way round: ISO is an international cartel of national standardization bodies.

      You could try to appeal at the ISO/IEC JTC1 level based on the differences between what the ISO/IEC JTC1 directives [iso.org] say and how things were actually done. [jtc1sc34.org] I have written up an analysis in which I come to the conclusion that an appeal which is based only on this kind of discrepancies will not be successful. [adaptux.com]

      What I suppose could be done with some chance of success is to file an antitrust lawsuit as well as an appeal and demand in the appeal that ISO/IEC shall defer to the result of the antitrust lawsuit. (Trying to get the standardization organization officials to decide the antitrust concerns themselves would not be a good idea IMO, since standardization organizations are really not equipped for resolving legal conflicts).

      • I don't get it. What is the basis of an antitrust suit? Are you guys now advocating that submitting a format to ISO (which doesn't force anyone to use the standard), is an antitrust violation? This is absurd. Hell, just a few years ago you same guys were saying it was abuse of monopoly, and therefore an antitrust violation, to NOT submit Microsoft's file formats to standards bodies. Make up your minds.
        • by LingNoi (1066278)
          Please don't play dumb, you already know it's not what they did but, how they did it which everyone is complaining about.
    • Re:Appeal? (Score:4, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:29AM (#22951152)
      Technically, all appeals have to wait until all the votes are officially announced for each country. That way people aren't filing appeals based on rumors. Also, the appeals process might require formal procedures like paperwork, affidavits, blood sacrifices, etc.
    • by tuxgeek (872962)
      The appeals will happen.

      If my A.D.D. short term memory problem doesn't get in the way, I recall that Norway voted 19 against and 5 for the passing, but they approved it anyway. This same irregularity also occurred in several other EU countries.

      Visualize if you will, a shit load of people with their mouths hanging wide open, thinking, "WTF??? We all voted against that abortion, how the fuck did it pass???"

      Yes, there will be appeals.

      • Re:Appeal? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arendjr (673589) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:43AM (#22952086) Homepage
        The problem though is the ones that need to appeal are the NB's, which are the same ones that also had the final say in the Yes votes.

        Can't disagree I really hope there will be appeals as well.
        • by tuxgeek (872962)

          The problem though is the ones that need to appeal are the NB's, which are the same ones that also had the final say in the Yes votes.

          meh ... Good point. And the NB's are the paid M$ plants that passed that abortion of an "open" format.

          This now leaves us in a quandary as to the present and future of ISO standards, being somewhat meaningless that is.

      • Visualize if you will, a shit load of people with their mouths hanging wide open, thinking, "WTF??? We all voted against that abortion, how the fuck did it pass???"

        Kinda like the last two presidential elections here in the US.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:54AM (#22950746)
    Standards are a major pillar of a modern technological society. Attempting (whether successfully or not) to sabotage the standardization process of a well-respected source of standards, amounts to attempting to destabilize society. This is clearly utterly unethical. The potential damage is inconceivable.

    MS did this evil thing either because they do not care at all about anything except their short-term profits, or because they are scared out of their wits. In either case they need to be contained fast, before the world is without a credible (read: of high integrity and producing high quality syandards) standardization organisation.
    • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:04AM (#22950862)
      As several have commented on Slashdot before, MS also benefits from the discrediting of the ISO process in general. Then there are no "standards" just what MS makes, what MS wants, and no pesky people complaining about them not being standards compliant.
      • by gwait (179005) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:52AM (#22952206)
        Exactly. Microsoft have won this hands down.
        Notice how the mainstream press are reporting Microsoft's OOXML ISO approval, without mentioning the dirty tricks (illegal or not) that they used to get it "approved".
        So for Government programs that state that documents MUST be based on an open standard, Microsoft have won, and for anyone who mentions ODF is also an ISO standard, they can say "Who cares? ISO is a disorganized and easily corrupted organization, nothing they rubber stamp means anything!".

        It's not at all surprising that Microsoft went after this whole hog, handcuffing customers to MS Office is the source of their income and power. All else (windows monopoly, etc) follows.
        • As it stands, the new OOXML 'standard' amounts to a mandate to upgrade to Office 2007 (yes, there's some kind of add-on for older versions, but most will just eat the upgrade). A nice win for MS.

          It would be nice if Government mandates required that multiple, compatible implementations exist for whatever standards they mandate.

          That might call Microsoft's bluff. Either they'd have to implement a working OOXML to ODF translator or help others implement OOXML and verify completeness.

          Hell, by defining 'standar
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by kamochan (883582)

          ... handcuffing customers to MS Office is the source of their income and power. All else (windows monopoly, etc) follows.

          <rant>Which just sucks golfballs. I recently installed Office 2008 for the Mac. Universal binaries and all, made me expect improvements. Silly me - what a stinking pile of dog poop! As slow as the f*cking runtime-translated powerpc-binary-2004, buggy to no end (ate several files already, while I'm on a hard deadline), the interface has been changed where it makes no sense (the templates etc drop-down section) - but unchanged where it should have been fixed (native scroll bars in most controls). ARR

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by El_Muerte_TDS (592157)

      Standards are a major pillar of a modern technological society. Attempting (whether successfully or not) to sabotage the standardization process of a well-respected source of standards, amounts to attempting to destabilize society. This is clearly utterly unethical. The potential damage is inconceivable.

      Some would label that as an act of terrorism.
      • Some would label that as an act of terrorism.

        No, no, you've got it all wrong. Terrorism is if someone ELSE does it. This is called US democracy, it's different. You get more people to suffer at once, and because it makes money for some it's OK.

        • No, no, you've got it all wrong. Terrorism is if someone ELSE does it. This is called US democracy, it's different. You get more people to suffer at once, and because it makes money for some it's OK.
          wth?! people votes for Microsoft's behavior? did I miss something?

          • by setagllib (753300)
            In Soviet Microsoft, executives vote to decide *your* behavior.
          • by KDR_11k (778916)
            Yes, with their wallets. Because they don't have to buy MS products and there's no way anyone would ever have to buy Office if he didn't like it. Didn't the libertarian brigade tell you anything about the magic of capitalism?
          • by cheros (223479)
            Yes, you missed something: the DoJ acting the way it did vs MS. I call that encouragement rather than punishment..

    • by Eternal Annoyance (815010) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:15PM (#22952494)
      Microsoft did this to discredit ISO. Think about it, Microsoft sabotages the voting process and everyone "inconviniently" discovers the voting fraud. As a consequence ISO isn't trusted anymore.

      What happens? Everyone scrambles to consolidate "their" (read: Microsoft's) idea of standard. "Unfortunately" this will mean that each and every standard breakable by Microsoft will be broken in such a way that it's very convenient for... Microsoft.

      Microsoft is pushing OOXML simply to sabotage ISO and not to provide a "competitor" to ODF, that's only the front.

      At this point criminal prosecution of the Microsoft execs responsible for this would be very desirable (corruption, fraud and forgery of documents (yes, it might just apply here)).

      The companies aiding Microsoft in the irregularities deserve to get punished severely over this.
  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:57AM (#22950786)
    Well I don't read that an appeal has been filed yet.

    But it will be.

    To not appeal as this point is tantamount to agreeing to the decision to make it a standard. It is demonstrable that a great many people, companies and organizations do not agree (in fairly strong terms) as we can assume an appeal is inevitable.

    At this point, an appeal makes a stand and casts doubt on OOXML as a standard - so win or lose in the appeal, the mere fact that there is one will help our case.

    Lastly, I state again - if OOXML passed the agreed consultations and tests for a standard, was approved in the conventional standard, and brought a demonstrably superior implementation to ODF then I would accept it in a heartbeat.
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @09:58AM (#22950798)
    The OOXML Standard was bought and the ISO stood idly by, hand extended.

    Therefore the ISO is now irrelevant; so who cares about the ISO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Akaihiryuu (786040)
      Indeed...ISO is completely irrelevant now. They are not a reputable organization, and no longer have any say in standards, at least computer-related ones. Noone is going to seek out ISO "approval" for standards anymore, at least noone reputable. FSFE is pretty much saying the exact same thing in TFA. There is even a replacement for ISO springing up. http://www.certifiedopen.com/ [certifiedopen.com]
    • Unfortunately, the dry-and-boring, but deeply authoritative ISO we all grew up knowing is nowhere to be seen here. I think they have about a year to repudiate this standard, and hand out appropriate punishment to the instigators. Otherwise, ISO standards will be understood as coming in two flavors: "Classic" ISO (before 2008-04-01) and "New" ISO (after 2008-04-01), the latter being understood to be crap.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BlueParrot (965239)
      A) The standard hasn't passed just yet

      B) The ISO followed procedure, it was the member organisations. Or rather, members of the boards of some of the member organizations.

      C)Anybody who wants open standards ought to care about the ISO as we are currently in a "Fix ISO or Microsoft wins" situation. When something is broken attempting to fix it is usually worth trying before giving up and throwing it away.
    • by mysticgoat (582871) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @02:56PM (#22954752) Homepage Journal

      I can't follow your logic.

      The ISO standards process was corrupted while processing the OOXML "fast track" request. So the OOXML standard is corrupt, and the application of the "fast track" process is corruptible, if not corrupt itself.

      That has no bearing on any of the other ISO standards. Such as

      • ISO 9000: quality management in production environments
      • ISO 10161: Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol
      • ISO 7: Pipe threads where pressure-tight joints are made on the threads
      • ISO 500: Rear-mounted power take-off specifications for agricultural tractors
      • ISO 999: Guidelines for the content, organization, and presentation of indexes
      • ISO 68-1: Basic profile of metric screw threads
      • ISO 7736: Car radio installation space
      • Any of the other 16,000+ ISO standards [wikipedia.org] that enrich our lives

      No one with any sense is going to declare the ISO process null and void. It has proven its value too many times, in too many different areas.

      What is likely to happen is that people who are used to working with ISO standards are going to be saying "This is great! Now we have a way of measuring how closely different software conforms to an international standard! Look, this version of OpenOffice is in proven conformance with only eighty-something percent of the ODF Standard. But when we measure this version of MS Office against the OOXML Standard, it is in conformance with... uh... less than 10% ????"

      The acceptance of OOXML as a standard to be measured against is going to make it more difficult for Microsoft to sell its products in a lot of markets in the short term. From what I've read, the OOXML standard is going to be so hard to implement that it will be difficult for Microsoft to score well against it for the long term as well. Microsoft may have put itself into a situation where they will have to work with ODF files in order to sell to the big accounts, where ISO 9000 and shipping containers that can be moved from truck to train to boat are important to the business.

      • by kocsonya (141716)
        > That has no bearing on any of the other ISO standards. Such as
        > ISO 9000: quality management in production environments

        Um, ISO produces standards. With the OOXML they seem to be not ISO-9000 certified, or their certification should be withdrawn. Therefore, their products (including ISO-9000 itself) is a result of an uncertified process and therefore can not be trusted.

        Tongue in cheeck in your own discretion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zsau (266209)
      I know! It's awful! All of my pieces of A4 paper now have unreliable edges: In fact, I have a page which is not even a known shape, having angles which do not add up. Possibly US letter paper is immune to this? I don't know; I have none around. I tried to get money out of the ATM this morning, but my card stopped fitting after OOXML was passed. It measures the same dimensions as it did previously, but without a reputable standards organisation behind it, the sizes cease to be the same when they are near. I
  • by zarmanto (884704) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:20AM (#22951032) Journal

    It seems to me that it doesn't matter in the least if OOXML becomes a standard -- because frankly, nobody but Microsoft is going to put any significant effort into supporting it. A "standard" which is only supported by one product is about as useful as a two inch long drinking straw in a world of six inch tall soda cans... what's the point in even worrying about it?

    Another example of this same problem is the Acid3 browser test. While I applaud the guys who came up with the tests for pointing out how many "standards" have been ignored by modern browsers, and I am quite impressed with the folks developing Opera and Safari/Webkit for their efforts to meet those standards... it still won't genuinely mean much until the forty foot gorilla in the room (Microsoft's Internet Explorer, of course) decides to play nice too.

    In the case of Acid3, this is a regrettable fact of life that actually works to Microsoft's advantage -- which is why they aren't chomping at the bit to actually fix their browser. In the case of OOXML... Microsoft probably doesn't realize it yet, but they're pretty much screwed no matter how this thing ends.

    • by R2.0 (532027) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:35AM (#22951234)
      It matters because it is a long held practice of governments to specify a "standard" product so that they cannot be accused of choosing proprietary products. If OOXML had not become a standard, governments may not have been ALLOWED to use it according to their own internal rules. Of course, this process is often abused - specifications are often written so that only one product or company qualifies, even though they are not named. So now all governments need to is say "File formats shall comply with standard XYZ and - lo and behold - only MS office qualifies.
      • by zarmanto (884704)

        I won't argue that point -- but I would suggest that even that makes very little difference, as every government office I've ever been in already uses Microsoft Office exclusively.

        (Of course, I'm in the United States, so that may have something to do with my observations...)

        • by Adaptux (1235736) *

          I won't argue that point -- but I would suggest that even that makes very little difference, as every government office I've ever been in already uses Microsoft Office exclusively.

          The point is that with ODF being an international standard, governments were coming under increasing pressure to use that. The ISO/IEC standardization push for OOXML is Microsoft's defensive maneuver to avoid losing too many government organizations as customers.

          • by LingNoi (1066278)
            Yeah, seems to me that a lot of governments purposefully approved OOXML because they didn't want to change they MS office apps.

            All I can say to that is why didn't Microsoft add ODF support already? Problem solved.
      • This is largely irrelevant - on past form Microsoft will change the specification in the next version of Office and then there will be no systems that comply with the standard

        • I don't see the problem... MS Office won't certify as following this standard, not even now, and thus they can't claim they implement an ISO standard.

          Now, if the certification process is corrupt then there might be some problems...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mysticgoat (582871)

        It matters because it is a long held practice of governments to specify a product that measures up well against a standard so that they cannot be accused of choosing proprietary products...

        There, I fixed that thought for you. BTW, this also applies to a lot of big corporations and other entities... not just governments.

        Procurement at government agencies and big businesses can usually be simplified to a three step process, that is driven by the need of the individuals involved to protect their careers

        • by R2.0 (532027)
          Here's the REAL procurement process:

          1) Vendor convinces end user to buy their product, and gives end user a "sample" spec, written in such a way that only the Vendor can comply.
          2) End user scrubs spec of vendor references and submits it to Purchasing as his department's "requirements".
          3) Purchasing does what they do.
          4) Vendor is the only bidder - no one else can comply with the requirements as written.
          5) Profit! (for the vendor)
          • Here's the REAL procurement process
            <snip> [description of corruption of corporate procedures]

            This definitely happens in some midsize and smaller companies, and most definitely in academia (where it is often so blatant that Deans and Department Heads brag in public about how clever they are in getting what they want).

            Government agencies and big businesses are well aware of this behavior and have mechanisms in place that protect the careers of executives from being tainted by this kind of corruption by lower echelon staff. The purchase decision process is monitored, and staff who appear to be att

  • by firefly4f4 (1233902) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:21AM (#22951044)
    PJ posted a link to http://government.zdnet.com/?p=3745 [zdnet.com] in her latest update on OOXML, and it contained an interesting quote from news.com:

    Microsoft's general manager of standards and interoperability Tom Robertson said that Microsoft, too, has been queried as part of the investigation.

    He said that Microsoft will "fully cooperate" with any investigation from the Commission. In response to the accusations of stacking committees, Robertson said that IBM and other competitors have done exactly what Microsoft is accused of doing. For example, an employee from Google, which opposed Open XML standardization, joined the Finnish national committee only three days before a vote.

    "It seems that one of the main concerns that people have raised about the process is the broad-based participation in the standards body deliberation," he said. "I think it's ironic IBM is complaining about new members in national standards bodies when they have been working around the clock to get people to join."

    Two wrongs do not make a right, and if IBM and other companies were wrong as he suggest, then so was Microsoft if they did the same, and it just goes to support the argument that the process was tampered with and the results discarded. By making that statement, he actually argued against his own position that everything went fine.

    Note: I work for IBM, but this opinion is my own

    • by Shados (741919) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:26AM (#22951104)
      I'm a pretty big Microsoft supporter (yeah, one of like, 3 on this site...I do NOT work for MS however), and even I agree with you. Even if MS won, the process was tempered with. If OOXML is to be an ISO standard, we'll be stuck with it. It has to win fair and square. And if it is good enough to be an ISO standard, it should win, regardless of IBM. If its awful (and in its current state, its probably not so hot), it has to fail, so that MS can go back to the drawing board.

      They need to trash the results and start over. As it is, even though OOXML was approved, NO ONE will trust it, because no one know if it actually deserves the spot or not. (And it goes both ways. Its not as simple as "It shouldn't be ISO!").

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by katz (36161)
        Why should MS "go back to the drawing board" in the first place, instead of just implementing ODF? (though I grant you that's a rhetorical question, since ODF serves to discourage the kinds of lock-in that Microsoft's business model appears to depend on)

        - Roey
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Shados (741919)
          Because a monoculture is never a good thing, and because ODF and OOXML have a different featureset. Microsoft should implement both, and so should Open Office (assuming OOXML gets ISO cert).

          Then companies can standardise on whatever suits their internal need bests, while still being able to interroperate with everyone else, and the tools everyone will have will be able to convert from one to the other while only losing features that are unique to their format.

          I think this is the ideal world. Though thats a
          • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Monoculture is good in some instances - in all the instances when you have to represent something.
            Document format monoculture is a good thing (Web anyone?)
            Measurement system monoculture is a good thing (metric ftw.)

            Application monoculture is a bad thing (Microsoft Office.)
            OS monoculture is a bad thing (Microsoft Windows.)
            Hey, is there a pattern here?
          • by Jason Levine (196982) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:07PM (#22952398)
            In theory, I agree. If OOXML were truly an open standard, but just differed from ODF in some ways (perhaps better in some ways and worse in others), but otherwise was a fully implementable standard, I would be all for making it an ISO standard and having OpenOffice.org able to read/save OOXML files.

            In practice, however, Microsoft has shown that they don't really care about OOXML as a standard. They've said themselves that they aren't going to implement it. If they aren't going to implement it, then how is anyone else supposed to? Besides, it's littered with awful "explanations" like AutoSpaceLikeWord95. How do you AutoSpace like Word95? OOXML doesn't explain this. You're just expected to know. OOXML is really just an attempt by Microsoft to get to claim support for open standards without actually having to support open standards.

            In short, I would have no problem with someone else coming up with a format to compete with ODF, but I don't think Microsoft is willing to do it.
            • Besides, it's littered with awful "explanations" like AutoSpaceLikeWord95. How do you AutoSpace like Word95? OOXML doesn't explain this.

              Asking anyone developing OOXML, and they'll tell you it's OK because it was moved to the deprecated part of the specification along with a few other hot-button tags like that.

              Of course, there are two obvious problems with this:

              1) It's still in the specification, so even if it's deprecated you still need to say what it does... WITHOUT relating to a particular application's implementation.
              2) How is it that a brand-new standard specification contains deprecated options?

          • by Nurgled (63197)

            Wouldn't it be better to have a single document standard that is the union of the features of OOXML and ODF?

            It's not like they are radically different problem domains. We're talking about representing wordprocessor, spreadsheet and presentation documents here. How different can the featureset possibly be? This is especially true if you bear in mind that the applications in question are Microsoft Office and several suites (OpenOffice, KOffice, etc) whose express goal seems to be to do everything Microsoft O

      • I'm a pretty big Microsoft supporter

        Why? They are a company who are dedicated to making profit and who manifestly do not care about you. Sure, use their products if they are the best choice for you, but why support them? They do not need it. They are not a charity or a cause (or even a sports team): they are a for-profit corportation.

        Do you support any other companies?
        • by Shados (741919)
          Because there are some real people behind companies. Those people have names, I know many of them, and have talked with many of them, and support them and their work. Obviously, Ballmer isn't one of those people, though.

          I beleive in a large part of what they do and want them to continue, and beleive in their ideas. Thats it. This is a forum and obviously I cannot (and would not, even if I could) write an entire book describing in detail my exact meaning, lawyer style, so don't take me too literally on this.
      • by jhol13 (1087781)
        I have basically four complaints of OOXML.
        1. Name. It should be changed.
        2. ODF. It exist already, it is better (though far from perfect).
        3. Immaturity. OOXML is far too immature to be ISO standard, it has too many problems, it is too big. Fast track is not appropriate for it.
        4. Compatibility. Microsoft itself will not be compatible with the ISO standard although they will claim it.

        If 1, 3 and 4 are solved I would not have anything against forgetting 2 and giving Microsoft an ISO standard.
      • by jc42 (318812)
        If OOXML is to be an ISO standard, we'll be stuck with it

        How so? OSI was (and still is) an ISO standard, which was supposed to supplant IP. How many of your computers are part of an OSI network? Do you know of any computers anywhere that are?

        I was involved in a few ISO committees that worked on parts of the OSI standard. I was there as a rep from a smaller company that was developing the standards. We were repeatedly hit with things that sounded very much like this OOXML snafu. We'd suddenly find ours
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Fri13 (963421)
      Both sides are doing bad things. I have NEVER understand why ISO allows Big companies to VOTE in this kind stuff because IBM, Microsoft and Novell has so many offices in almost every country so they affect the whole process. I would say that there should be only a EFF and goverment bodies who will use it. Not big corporations to lobby own idea. Microsoft has affected all country votes, just by being in there. Same has IBM done etc etc. Of course if Microsoft and IBM are THE goverment, I understand that they
    • by tokul (682258) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:25PM (#22952616)
      Fins also fired board chairman that opposed to MS-OOXML.
    • by Weedlekin (836313)
      If both sides were, as MS claim, stacking national bodies to get their own way in this case, then I'm left wondering how many other standards got pushed through ISO (and indeed other standards bodies) in a similar way. This one got lots of attention from geeks because it involved both MS and various FOSS advocates, but there are probably many other situations that we know nothing about where very large players stood to lose a lot of money if ISO ratified something that didn't enshrine their current way of d
    • Where is there even a hint of evidence that IBM did any such thing? They're still a powerful player in the solutions marketplace, but if they were abusing the system, wouldn't there be individuals and corporations OTHER THAN MICROSOFT making similar allegations? Wouldn't there have been a substantial surge of companies that had previously ignored ISO proceedings who suddenly were interested enough to sign-up and then vote on only that one standard, as Microsoft partners did?

      These allegations seem to be ju

      • by pyrr (1170465)

        Another thought, how many of the folks who joined their respective nations' ISO organizations just for this vote voted AGAINST OOXML as opposed to FOR it? That would tell the tale to some degree. Based on everything I've read, the longer-term members were mostly against OOXML, while the new folks almost all voted for it.

        It's not even so much that several vendors suddenly took interest in a hot topic that could affect them, even if Microsoft encouraged its partners to support them in their nations' committ

    • > Two wrongs do not make a right, and if IBM and other companies were wrong as he suggest, then so was Microsoft if they did the same, and it just goes to support the argument that the process was tampered with and the results discarded. By making that statement, he actually argued against his own position that everything went fine.

      True, but you should mention the scale, too. Even if this is true (and I don't know that it is), we're talking about two people. TWO people. Versus dozens of small countrie
      • True, but you should mention the scale, too.

        I left scale out intentionally. What's really at question here is if the companies joining the evaluation committees did so merely to vote for a preferred outcome (ballot-stuffing), or if they actually evaluated the proposed standards on it's own merits.

        Since both sides have now accused the other of the same thing, that alone really should be enough justification to toss everything or start over until both sides are actually satisfied that things went smoothly -- and preferably with checks to ensure it

  • by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:36AM (#22951246)
    Money can't buy me love but apparently it can buy a standard! Microsoft is inherently evil. Like kicking puppies. Or raping a standards body!

  • ISO (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ariastis (797888) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:36AM (#22951248)
    International Sell-Out

  • Do this, and you violate the EULA. It doesn't matter that MS may or may not have put this in purposefully. You violate their EULA, then MS gets you to install Vista on your box, and suddenly one day WGA blocks you from downloading a critical update ...

    I'm betting that day MS will tell anyone who did this will have to buy a whole 'nother, full version of Vista.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @01:13PM (#22953232) Homepage
    Microsoft's general manager of "standards" and "interoperability" [quotes added for accuracy] Tom Robertson says in the article:

    "I think it's ironic IBM is complaining about new members in national standards bodies when they have been working around the clock to get people to join."
    I guess if someone starts shooting at me, I don't have any right to pick up a gun and shoot back without being guilty of wrongdoing then, eh Mr. Robertson?
  • Shouldn't the entire process be stopped? Shouldn't there be an end to end investigation?

    I realize that the vote from Swedens was thrown out. But does it make any since to assume that if msft was only caught once, then such bribery only happened once? How does that make any sense at all? If msft is trying to bribe their way to a win, the why would msft only bribe one country?

    Of course msft down played the incident. Msft said it was just one rouge employee. As absurdly implausible as that story sounds. I woul
    • I said at the time that OOXML's fast track process should be terminated after the Sweden incident (even if just for PR purposes, if nothing else). Then OOXML would go to the slow-track. Of course, Microsoft didn't want to use the slow-track process because by the time that process completed years later, IBM would've convinced governments to mandate exclusive use of ODF, and thereby make it illegal to use OOXML (which was the ultimate goal of anti-Microsoft forces). But I thought that if that's the price
  • I dont really care what happens with the legal side of this, it doesnt matter how many times microsoft get caught with its trousers down, the uninformed masses just dont care (or worse say that its what you do when you have a monopoly? )

    What i do want to see, is microsoft having thier asses handed to them on the technological side. With gnome office onboard there is a real chance that microsoft isnt going to have the best implimentation of thier own standard, its much harder to take a finished product and t
    • by Tjebbe (36955)
      Unless the specification is ambiguous or incomplete, resulting in incompatible implementations. In that case, Microsofts version will most probably win, even though the others are more compliant (what do you mean my version is bad, mine is the one by the writers of the specification!).

      I wonder what all those comments from the ISO committees were about...

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

Working...