The title of this piece is an old French saying. You will soon understand what it means. Forget a moment about the Microsoft-Yahoo stories. They’re important, although even the best take on them, in my opinion, still largely misses one important element of the proposed deal: Namely, that such an acquisition of Yahoo! by Microsoft would not take those two very far. However, Microsoft could use the only outstanding asset of the deal to disseminate its own proprietary technologies such as Silverlight, CLR, WP/F and everything .NET . Enough said for the moment.
Doug Mahugh, respected engineer at Microsoft (who’s leaving the company, by the way. He wants to have quiet week-ends at least.) is complaining about the lack of respect for Open Standards by the “anti-OOXML” camp. He also nominates OpenForum Europe and IBM as being behind the Geneva conference. Since my company stands among the conveners of that conference, I guess I should have a say on this.
Obviously, what is being at stake is the defense of Open Standards versus a monopoly that pushes its own set of technologies in a ruthless way. So ruthless, that the European Union has started an investigation on Microsoft’s practices on OOXML and the way it was being pushed to the ISO. That is not what is happening with OpenForum Europe the last time I checked.
Meanwhile, Doug thinks he managed to identify some of the main members of the HCCAMAEA (High Command of the Conspiracy Against Microsoft And Everything American) and mentions IBM paying for the whole show in Geneva. Well, I know Open Forum Europe but much less IBM, so I can’t really speak but it seems IBM really is one member among the group. Anyway, I will represent my company there and providing guidance and information on ODF. It should be stressed that the OpenForume Europe-led event is an event about ODF and not against OpenXML. After all, we have taken Microsoft to the word. If introducing OOXML right after ODF to the ISO was not a move against ODF, then I am surprized Doug sees the inclusion of a conference about ODF as a proof that we don’t respect Open Standards. (ODF is an Open Standard).
Now what’s equally interesting is the set of comments on Doug’s blog. Added to the blog itself, it is very much an example of the “Play It Again, Sam”, except that I’m not Sam so I just don’t buy into this. According to what’s written there, IBM is infusing money everwhere to send lobbyists against OOXML and is trying to disrupt the standardization process of OOXML.
Let’s take a deep breath and look at this issue again: Microsoft has pushed so much for OOXML to become an ISO standard (which does not equal to be an open standard, by the way) that they’re now under legal scrutiny by the EU. Bribery and pressures have been accounted on a worldwide basis.
Perhaps more insidiously, the largest majority of the national standards committees have been stuffed to a degree or another by Microsoft’s Gold Partners. What does it mean to be a Microsoft Gold Partner? At a very basic level, it means that you’re guaranteeing Microsoft with a certain volume of distribution (and thus revenue) of its products. And when you’re a Gold Partner, you have a non-negligeable amount of business going on with Microsoft. In other words, Microsoft’s Gold Partners have a vested interested in Microsoft’s success on any level. So Microsoft has indirectly paid dozens of companies to “express the diversity of point of views” inside committees of supposedly neutral experts.
It should be reminded, dear readers, that according to Microsoft, companies such as IBM, OpenForum Europe or mine, lack respect to Open Standards by holding a conference on ODF right beside the place where the BRM will be hold. I’m impressed. If indeed we’re showing that much disrespect to Open Standards, then it means Microsoft is hating them. In other words, Microsoft is the hospital making fun of charity funds.
Enjoy your week-end!