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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Microsoft: Mistakes Were Made in Sweden

Microsoft has admitted that a rogue employee sent a letter to MS partners in Sweden advising that they were expected to join the recent OOXML-as-ISO-standard meeting and vote "yes" in return for "market subsidies" (like paying for their advertising) and "additional support in the form of Microsoft resources." [Article is translated here.]

Microsoft has said that it was unauthorized, improper and quickly corrected. On his blog, Microsoft's Jason Matusow noted yesterday that "The whole point of the process is that organizations with an interest may participate."

He is right. Unfortunately.

In most countries, the technical committees considering how to vote on OOXML have created a process that invites (even relies on) companies -- all of whom have huge commercial interests in the decision -- to vote.

Such a process invites games, and abuses - as I noted here.

Why are governments enabling this? Why are governments abdicating their responsibility for decisions that affect public interests? Yes, technical issues are involved. But they are technical issues with big impact on public interests.

So blame the companies for their underhanded actions, and blame governments failing in their duty to serve the public interests.

[Quick Update: After revelations of improper actions by a Microsoft employee and concerns that it tainted voting on OOXML, the Swedish Standards Institute has declared its vote invalid and decided to abstain in the ISO vote.

Apparently, Sweden is not alone. Hungary's Minister of Economy & Transport instructed the Hungarian Standards Institution to re-do the OOXML voting due to ballot stuffing, arbitrary changing of rules, and exclusion of "no" voters.]

Categories: OpenStandards, OOXML, Sweden, Microsoft

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