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"The more you tighten your grip the more star systems will slip through your fingers"

Microsoft's hopes of controlling the open document world were nearing fruition after the International Standards Organization finally certified its OOXML standard at the start of April.  The ISO had already ratified ODF, the competitive open-source format from the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) used heavily in Linux, but Microsoft faced a lengthy struggle to try to get its own format recognized.  Without certification it would be tough to push the format as a legitimate open document option.

Microsoft had good reason to want to control the world of open documents.  As users switch platforms and software more and more, and use an increasing amount of open source solutions, the need for a non-software specific format has surfaced.  Microsoft hoped that by making its own proprietary open-file format the preferred standard it could seize control of this budding field.

However, to Microsoft's anger, the process has now been held up by complaints.  Following rumors that Microsoft pushed the vote through and used underhanded tactics to suppress dissent, Brazil, India, South Africa, and Venezuela lent such claims credence by filing complaints against the ratification.

The ratification cannot go forward until these complaints are heard, and they must be voiced before the end of June.  The final decision of how to react to them will be handed to two management committees.  India in particular was quite vocal in its opposition.  An open letter, written by a member of the technical standardization committee in India, states that Microsoft's long and ambiguous proposed specification left it unclear what was being implemented.  He says this means that Microsoft can implement the new format however it wants, ruining the whole reason for ISO -- to promote openness.

He also accuses Microsoft of running a careful concerted smear campaign that undercut the Indian concerns.  He states:

Microsoft started filing complaints to various Indian authorities in early March 2008, claiming bias on part of several members of the committee because of their presumed membership of a group called ‘ODF Alliance India’. My Institution and its representatives are part of the group which has been falsely implicated in these complaints. Worse, the complaints have painted these organizations and their representatives, including the Indian delegation which attended the BRM, as acting against the Indian National interests. This is the most derogatory accusation to any Indian, amounting, personally for me at least, to intolerable blasphemy.

In the letter he alleges that Microsoft pressured the Indian national government to change its stance, and likely did so with other national governments as well.  He states that Microsoft behaved in a way "amounting to interfering with the governance process of a sovereign country."  He concludes, "I would like to assure all colleagues and other readers that my intentions are purely to respond to the grave provocation caused by the actions of Microsoft."

Meanwhile ODF creators OASIS tried to steal a bit of the spotlight calling for an "implementation, interoperability, and conformity" technical committee to continue ODF's openness and quality.  The entity plans on trying to bring ISO or the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) into the project.  Surprisingly Microsoft has expressed interest in joining the committee, igniting many conspiracy theories on the internet.



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blasphemy ?
By tmouse on 6/11/2008 11:25:42 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know, when I see comments like "intolerable blasphemy" and “interfering with the governance process of a sovereign country" I cannot help but think personal grudge and strong bias. Come on blasphemy? I did not know India was a theocracy, which would be the only way being accused of acting against national interests would be blasphemy. How did Microsoft interfere with the governance process? The implication would be bribes I guess, is there a single shred of evidence of this? Writing letters and making statements (or "accusations" if you wish) is part of the governance process in most free countries including India unless things have changed recently. I do not have a view one way or another on the issue but even the tone of this article implies "sinister control": of what? An open standard? If Microsoft tried anything to "wrest control" couldn’t the open standards committee just say no and not incorporate any changes. I doubt Microsoft would be able to force any payment or stop open office from using it other wise it wouldn't be very open would it?




RE: blasphemy ?
By Ringold on 6/12/2008 7:44:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Come on blasphemy?


I get what you are saying..

But I have to give props to anyone willing and able to use "intolerable blasphemy!!!" in day to day language. :)


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