[Fsf-friends] Memo to Microsoft: Stop wasting our time! (Venky Hariharan's blog...)

Frederick Noronha [फ़रेदरिक नोरोनया] fred@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Fri Aug 31 00:30:21 IST 2007

Feedback to: venkyh at gmail.com

Thursday, August 30, 2007
Memo to Microsoft: Stop wasting our time!

Finally word is out and the Bureau of Indian Standards has confirmed
that it will be submitting a "No with comments" vote to International
Standards Organization on Microsoft's OOXML proposal. This brings to a
temporary close five to six months of hectic
legwork to prevent a sub-standard proposal from getting the coveted
tag of an ISO standard.

I doubt if Microsoft realises it, but its actions are only making it
the Union Carbide of the global IT industry. Microsoft is the world's
largest software company but if you flip through their 6000+ pages of
OOXML documentation, you'll be justified in wondering how they grew so
big if the rest of their work is as shoddy as OOXML.

The extremely flawed proposal certainly does not befit its stature in
the IT industry. But, does Microsoft learn from all the feedback given
to it or does it learn anything from it. No. Humility and Microsoft
are like oil and water -- never shall they mix.

According to reports coming in from countries that are involved in the
ISO vote on OOXML, Microsoft is busy stuffing the ballot boxes. Read
Andy Updegrove's blog post The OOXML Vote: How Bad Can it Get? (Keep
Counting). Originally, only 30 ISO members were supposed to vote on
OOXML. However, as the September 2nd date for the final voting comes
close, another ten more countries have joined the committee.

Updegrove says:

As someone who has spent a great part of my life working to support
open standards over the past 20 years, I have to say that this is the
most egregious, and far-reaching, example of playing the system to the
advantage of a single company that I have ever seen. Breathtaking, in
fact. That's assuming, of course, that I am right in supposing that
all of these newbie countries vote "yes."

I guess we'll just have to wait and see a few more days to learn
whether that assumption is true. Want to place your bets?

Sitting here in India, it is difficult to influence countries like
Malta, Cyprus, Ecuador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Pakistan, Trinidad and
Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela in the two days left before the
final votes are submitted, but we shall try. I checked with the IT
ministry in Pakistan and brought to their attention that Pakistan is
now a "P" member of ISO which entitles it to vote on OOXML. This was
news to them as they were not consulted on the OOXML issue. I hope
that Pakistan's vote will be cast only after thoroughly reviewing the
arguements for and against OOXML.

Coming back to India, I am extremely proud of the fact that my country
has voted against this proposal. To accept such a poor document would
have been to denigrate the very meaning of "standards." The academia,
the government bodies, industry organizations and non-profits like the
Free Software Foundation spent countless hours debating and discussing
this issue. Some of the best brains in India burnt the midnight oli to
review this 6000 page proposal and the final consensus was that none
of Microsoft's answers to the 201 technical issues raised was found
satisfactory. I hope the Microsoft bosses in Redmond take note of this
and make a genuine attempt to rectify the issues instead of trying to
stuff the ballot boxes.

For wasting the collective intellect of India's best IT brains,
Microsoft and ECMA must be blacklisted. Just as a person with a bad
credit history has to redeem himself or herself before applying for
subsequent credit, any standards proposal submitted by these two
organizations should be thoughly vetted before it is even accepted for
review or voting in India. India has more pressing problems to tackle
than OOXML. Therefore, Microsoft, please do us a big favor and stop
wasting our time. Next time, do your homework before you submit
something to India.

PS: This is an old joke in the IT industry and shows how little
Microsoft has changed in decades.
Q. How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None. Microsoft declares Darkness(TM) an industry standard.

End of forward...
Frederick Noronha  Journalist http://fn.goa-india.org
E: fred at bytesforall.org or fredericknoronha at gmail.com
P: +91-832-2409490 M: +91-9970157402
Yahoo: fredericknoronha Skype: fredericknoronha GTalk: fredericknoronha
Saligao 403511 Goa India http://www.linkedin.com/in/fredericknoronha

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