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Software Government Politics

India Decides to Vote "No" For OOXML 120

Indian writes to mention that after an intense meeting at Delhi's Manak Bhawan the 21-member technical committee has decided to vote against Microsoft's Open Office Extensible Mark Up Language (OOXML) standard at the September meeting of the International Standards Organization (ISO). "Microsoft said it respects the government's decision. 'There were only three options "Yes", "No" and "Abstain" to be taken and we respect the government's decision,' Microsoft's legal affairs head Rakesh Bakshi said. He, however, added that India's 'No' vote will become a 'Yes' if Microsoft is able to resolve all technical issues with OOXML before the ballot resolution committee of ISO."
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India Decides to Vote "No" For OOXML

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    • yeah, "technical issues" such as how much money is "technically" in the accounts of those voting. Always seems to work so far.
    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:50AM (#20343839)

      You know what the worst part is? Even if there weren't any "technical issues," OOXML shouldn't be a standard because ISO already has an existing standard covering the same thing! And that preexisting standard leverages other standards (eg. SVG, MathML) while Microsoft's travesty doesn't! So even regardless of "technical issues," making OOXML a standard is ludicrously stupid!

      • by MuffinSpawn ( 914643 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @01:28PM (#20345777) Homepage
        They did this same sort of thing in the web services realm with WS-ResourceTransfer even though WS-ResourceFramework already existed and did everything WS-RT does. They claimed it was a merging of their stuff (WS-Transfer) with WS-RF, but it was really a coup. With WS-RT my original feeling was that they simply didn't want to recode everything to a new standard, so they just forced everyone to accept a superset of what they were using. That's annoying enough as it is, but I can't help thinking it's more than that despite my skepticism of conspiracies.

        I can only assume that Microsoft's stance on the open source community is to simply use their clout to get everyone to use their specifications, thus making it seem like they're cooperating with others. In reality they're just forcing their Johny-come-lately garbage down everyone's throat as usual. Unfortunately people want Microsoft on board with standards, so they apparently keep getting duped into doing whatever Microsoft wants them to do in the spirit of pseudo-cooperation. Yes India said "no" to OOXML, but it was qualified with room for negotiation. Don't think that this is a win for open standards just yet. It's not an open standard if only one company gets to dictate what that standard is.
        • by burner ( 8666 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @03:55PM (#20347495) Homepage Journal
          "In reality they're just forcing their Johny-come-lately garbage down everyone's throat as usual"

          It's worse than that.

          Consider a manager making a decision of which implementation of a standard to use. Is that person going to select the implementation by the originator of the spec or an implementation by a third party? It's about using the standard to ensure market dominance and put any competition on uneven footing.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Warbothong ( 905464 )
        Your complaints are like telling a Linux hacker "It's not a bug, it's just that the wording on these buttons should be changed". To a Linux hacker everything is either a bug or some vague hand-wavey thing. To a technical committee everything is a technical issue or some vague hand-wavey thing.

        Technical issues can be fixed by changing the text, whilst General Comments (vague hand-wavey things) will be taken on board. Everything you mention could be classed as a technical issue, even the existance of OOXML

      • That is exactly what the comments were against OOXML in the meeting of BIS, India. Details here: http://www.bis.org.in/oxml/ooxml.htm/ [bis.org.in]
  • Good news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Philotechnia ( 1131943 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:28AM (#20343593)
    The last time I looked at the OOXML spec, it was the most non-spec spec document I had ever seen. It was chock full of references to Microsoft's proprietary legacy code, failing to provide the details that would really allow for an open implementation. The only thing Microsoft opened up was letting developers know exactly what functionality they weren't being allowed to properly use. If this spec had been passed, it would have been an open invitation for more anti-spec specs down the road. Meanwhile, is it really a coincidence that with the advent of applications like OpenOffice, Office 2007 featured a complete revamp of the Office UI? Methinks not... Microsoft is the functional equivalent of that guy at the bar that can pick up just about any women he pleases, but is cursed with commitment issues that keep anything meaningful from developing. Bring something real to the table, billg.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bytta ( 904762 )
      Microsoft is the functional equivalent of that guy at the bar that can pick up just about any women he pleases, but is cursed with commitment issues that keep anything meaningful from developing.

      I thought he was like the weird "friend of the family" who forced himself on almost all the girls before they learned how to say no...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I suppose MS and the weird friend both deserve to be on at least one watchlist...

        On the other hand, can you blame him? At the risk of sounding a little weird myself, is it just me, or did India become a little, um, top-heavy over summer vacation?

        /India for Playmate of the Year 2008
    • by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:00AM (#20343967) Journal
      There's actually a simple XSL template that removes all the errors from the OOXML documents:

      <xsl:template match='/'/>
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kestasjk ( 933987 )
      What format does Apple's Pages/Keynote save to? Is it an open standard? Would Apple apologists say that it isn't open because it allows them to innovate more freely?

      Is MS Office really that bad to compare it to a guy that treats women as objects?! Personally I think MS Office is by far Microsoft's best application and they deserve credit for it.
      MS Office 2007's UI revamp was also a big deal. It makes it much easier to make full use of all of Office, and I'll bet you anything that OpenOffice and iWork wi
      • Re:Good news... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the_B0fh ( 208483 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @01:09PM (#20345493) Homepage
        You may actually have a point, if Apple was trying to push whatever format keynote is, as a global *OPEN* standard.
        • I know of people, myself included, who have been after Apple for years to support OpenDocument. (Yeah, it's been that long already.) As far as I can tell, the way their bugreporter [apple.com] is set up it's not possible to view other people's bugs. That means that all requests for supporting open standards get blown of as "duplicate" without being able to see the original or its status.

          It'd be really interesting to know the real reasons Apple's still failing to support formats like OpenDocument and Ogg. Ogg ente

      • No-one is forcing them to create an open standard that will allow other software to interact with MS Office documents, but they are. Shouldn't they get credit for that?

        When they actually do that, get back to me, and I will give them credit. An open standard, OOXML is not. That's my real gripe.
      • Open Standard? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kjkeefe ( 581605 )

        But see, that's just it... They aren't creating an open standard. They are acting like they are creating an open standard, but since it requires several proprietary pieces to work, it is really proprietary. The result is a harder time explaining to non-technical folks the negatives of locking up your content in M$'s proprietary formats and more wasted time for OO.o developers who have to reverse engineer the proprietary elements in OOXML. OOXML is proprietary, plain and simple.

        They should be rejected and

      • What format does Apple's Pages/Keynote save to?

        A horrible format, which is basically the model object exported using serialiseWithCoder:. It's a good idea to use this kind of thing for persistence, since it is guaranteed to store 100% of the document's data, but it is not a good interchange or archival format.

        Is it an open standard?

        No, although for interchange both export PDF.

        Would Apple apologists say that it isn't open because it allows them to innovate more freely?

        No, it's not an open standard because Apple is not aiming iWork at people who have strict interchange and editable-archiving requirements. I would not recommend Pages for a lot of corporate environ

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        What format does Apple's Pages/Keynote save to?

        A container format that has copies of images and the actual document in an XML format inside.

        Is it an open standard?

        No, it isn't. Most importantly: Apple doesn't try to fasttrack it through the ISO to make it one. More importantly, it im- and exports quite a lot of other, competitive formats. Even more importantly: It is horrible XML but it doesn't have "MakeSpacingLikeThisOtherProgram(butI'mnotsayingho wthatdoesit)" tags.

      • No-one is forcing them to create an open standard that will allow other software to interact with MS Office documents, but they are.

        Seriously? That would be sweet! Because all we've had so far is this non-specified confusingly named OOXML junk that isn't a standard and isn't open. It'd be great if they abandon that for the one you seem to know about.

    • by koh ( 124962 )

      Meanwhile, is it really a coincidence that with the advent of applications like OpenOffice, Office 2007 featured a complete patented revamp of the Office UI?

      Fixed that for you. Slimes don't get burnt twice.
  • Wait and see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xra ( 1021817 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:30AM (#20343611)
    Won't be surprised if a MAJOR investment from Microsoft in India is announced in the coming weeks and coincidentally the indian opposition to OOXML softened...
  • by Alphager ( 957739 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:31AM (#20343619) Homepage Journal
    Germany's DIN has voted to vote YES (sorry, article in german) [heise.de] at ISO.
    • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:15AM (#20344137) Journal

      This is the sort of thing Lessig was complaining about. Voting against OOXML is such a no-brainer. Heck, not even wasting time with a vote on OOXML is perfectly justifiable. But somehow, the West's political systems can't get there. Really the only questions are how was the German vote subverted? Corruption and bribery? Trickery and gaming? And what can be done about it? Can anyone persuade MS that this sort of behavior is not in anyone's interest, not even MS's own? India and Brazil voting against OOXML is no accident-- those 2 countries RMS's favorites for their enlightened stances.

      The vote may be irrelevant anyway. Lot of people are going with ODF and not OOXML, no matter what these representatives decide. Even if some give OOXML a try, it seems likely to be so bad they'll abandon it.

      • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @02:18PM (#20346433)

        Really the only questions are how was the German vote subverted?

        Basically, Microsoft directed a global filibuster campaign in order to force MS's OOXML specifications down ISO's throat. What happened in Germany was largely the same thing that happened in other countries like Portugal, Italy and IIRC Spain.

        As I'm portuguese, I've followed the portuguese case a bit closer. In that case, the modus operandi was basically to force the participation of entities as MS business partners in order to stuff the ballot, with the shockingly weird twist of barring the participation of entities like IBM and Sun due to some petty arbitrary justifications (not having enough chairs in a room, mind you). So, to sum things up, MS highjacked the process, successfully barred other entities from participating and, ignoring all technical problems and inconsistencies, proceeded to vote in favour of MS's OOXML for, IIRC, a margin of 12-6 (prior to MS the vote standed at 1-6).

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In Sweden, membership in the standards organization has a very low annual few. However, just that particular committee dealing with MOOX, it cost several months take-home pay. Very few small businesses (the ones who will be hurt worst by MOOX) can shell out that kind of money, just to burn time in meetings.

          The spec for MOOX is so bad it shouldn't have even gotten this far. When this is all over, Ecma's role in development of global standards will probably have to be re-evaluated.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )
      That amazes me. I always thought DIN was the 'mother of all standards.'
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tom ( 822 )
      Which is kind of non-surprising, as Germany is in a quagmire of corruption right now, with the great coalition probably the best time for decades to put your party members into all layers of the administration (i.e. the layers that are not elected).
      Germanies democracy has been completely undermined by the major parties at this point, and they will do anything for power and money - as an example, they are trying to raise the state support for the parties (i.e. mostly themselves) by 15% and call that "to corr
  • by rsilva ( 128737 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:42AM (#20343739) Homepage

    Same in Brazil:
    Brazil says no [alkalay.net]
    And OpenDocument is now a national standard!

    • I seem to remember that only a few no votes are required to sink the "quick-tracking" ("fast-tracking"?) of a proposed standard, but I don't remember how many.

      And didn't Poland also vote no?
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        2/3rds of actual votes (not counting abstentions) need to be Yes in order to pass
  • by trudyscousin ( 258684 ) * on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:51AM (#20343853)
    "He, however, added that India's 'No' vote will become a 'Yes' if Microsoft is able to resolve all technical issues with OOXML before the ballot resolution committee of ISO. "

    Translation: "Vote 'yes' or the cow gets it."

    I'd be willing to wager, knowing Microsoft's history, that political machinations will have more to do with India's final vote than technical issue resolution.
  • minor gripe (Score:5, Informative)

    by farlukar ( 225243 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:51AM (#20343859) Homepage Journal
    Office Open XML, not Open Office
  • by Anderlan ( 17286 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @10:57AM (#20343915) Homepage

    This is the Right Thing to have happened. MS OOXML is not a standard:

    • 6000 pages and still not a complete standard
    • paraphrased: 'to comply with standard, you must implement these hundreds of features from previous versions, which are not in this standard, and which may be covered by patent'
    • WTF!?!
    Further evidence of MS's bad faith:
    • I had never really thought about it, but the standard is named to be confused with the Open Office standard. The MS non-standard is called OOXML (Office Open XML). The Open Office standard is called ODF (Open Document Format), but you might just as well call it OOXML (Open Office XML) (I did indeed call it that before this non-standard effort came from MS). All they did was switch the words 'open' and 'office' around! That's like calling a Linux distribution SoftMicro Windows LX and saying you don't intend to confuse anyone.
    • How do you think "Open Office" came to get that name in the first place?

      See also: Pot / Kettle / Hue-based accusations.
    • ``That's like calling a Linux distribution SoftMicro Windows LX and saying you don't intend to confuse anyone.''

      Did you mean: Lindows?
  • It's Office Open XML, not Open Office XML. Love it or hate it, getting the name wrong does nothing for the credibility of Slashdot.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:04AM (#20344015) Journal

    Well, that won't be problem. Everyone knows that when the shit has hit the fan and the crunch is on, the MS coders get their act together and just stamp out all the errors and publish a completly fixed solution.

    Any of you buying this? Anyone? I don't think even a slashdot editor would fall for that line.

    MS has worked on OOXML for a long time, and it still is a mess. Remind you of anything? Like say, everything else ever released by MS?

    Maybe MS hopes that the ISO vote will be postponed until MS can release OOXML SP1. After all, that has always worked before. People delayed buying OS/2 because MS promised to release a new windows that would fix everything. People waited with finding alternatives to every single windows release with promise of better things to come.

    You will see if MS gets their way if news emerges of the vote being delayed. If that happens, then MS has it in the bag. Then it no longer matters if they ever fix it, if you delayed to wait for a product, you gotta buy that product or admit you were wrong in waiting.

    • by e6003 ( 552415 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:17AM (#20344177) Homepage
      Depending on one's definition of "technical problems" then there's a lot of patching to do because many of the problems are very deeply embedded. I don't just mean the infamous "auto space like Word 95" tags, but the lack of support for dates before 1900, the redefinition of the colourspace to clash with existing ISO standards and the hard-coded definition of non-working days to be Saturday and Sunday (which they are in Western culture but aren't in the Arabic world). A fairly comprehensive list of OOXML's failures is at http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/EOOXML_Objections _Clearinghouse [grokdoc.net] and it's an editable wiki as well.
    • "Like say, everything else ever released by MS?"

      My Microsoft Natural keyboard has worked great for the past 8 years, and my Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical for the past 4. They are both well designed, easy to use, are reliable.
      • by Nossie ( 753694 )
        I said the same about my sidewinder II .... till it broke :(, was my favourite stick too :(

        As I also type this on my MS keyboard and mouse... Microsoft has made some good hardware in the past, maybe they should stick to that rather than pretending to do software >:)
      • Isn't it kind of ironic that some of the best products Microsoft (a software company mainly) puts out are hardware products. You'd think they would be able to get their core business right, and would have problems with stuff they are less focussed on.
        • In view of the $1.2 billion they're setting aside to fix br0ken xbox 360s, I would have to disagree with you. How, if you s/products/peripherals/g, I could go with that.
  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:15AM (#20344145) Homepage
    From the article: About 123 counties are participating in the vote. Does anyone here know which countries, and what they voted for, if they have voted already?
  • by anivararavind ( 825859 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:32AM (#20344377) Homepage Journal
    Some quick links on Background of this campaign:

    ODFAlliance India Mirror [odfalliance.in] on Wordprocessing-ML subcommittee discussions

    Issue List [odfalliance.in] submitted to the Technical Committee by the WordProcessing ML Sub Committee

    Why ECMA OOXML is not a Free Document standard [odfalliance.in] :Paper By Dr. Nagarjuna

    My Earlier Post : Defeat M$ efforts to push Ecma OOXML in Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) [movingrepublic.org] Economic Times Report says

    "We unanimously agree on the disapproval of OOXML with comments. The same will be submitted to ISO," National Informatics Centre head and BIS technical committee chairperson Nita Verma said after a marathon meeting that lasted over six hours. There was no need for a voting as only Infosys Technologies and CSI supported Microsoft.
    Shame on You Infosys
  • Kudos !!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:36AM (#20344433) Homepage Journal
    great. another indicator that india has a really developing and conscious i.t. crowd.
    • by ignavus ( 213578 )
      "great. another indicator that india has a really developing and conscious i.t. crowd."

      How long will they remain conscious once Microsoft get to work on them?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:41AM (#20344501) Journal
    Almost all the politicians in India are falling over themselves to please MSFT. They crow about getting research facilities and other investments they attracted from MSFT. It is possible that some of the professional civil service corps produced a well reasoned arguments why India should vote against OOXML. But all it takes is a grand statement by MSFT that it is going to open another research center in Uttar Pradesh or Punjab. That will give an excuse for the very corrupt, best pol money can buy politicians of India, to overrule the civil service. It is nothing more than a simple ploy by the Govt of India to wangle a better deal from MSFT. The only question is what they are wangling for. Something for the country or something for themselves.

    Sorry to be so cynical.

    • Sadly it is true. Even the technical institutes chose Microsoft because they need funding.

      But what to expect from a third world country. Their priority does not lie with the technical merits of document files (they will still take printouts and put them in big files - this will not be undone because it creates employment) and one cannot blame them for it.
  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @11:53AM (#20344617) Journal
    If they consider the tags like "DoSpacingLikeWord3ThoughtWordPerfect2ForCPMDidItB utIsActuallySlightlyWrong" which are useless for a modern format and completely unimplementable by anyone who doesn't know excatly how WP2 for CP/M does its spacing and how Word 3 for DOS differed, as technical issues, then they will never vote yes.

    On the other hand, anyone voting for an international standard who doesn't consider that to be a serious problem (as there can be only one proper implementation) is either incompetant or in someone's pocket. I don't really know whichis worse.
  • Is ODF really much better as a "standard" on which to build a world or are we really just sticking it to Microsoft here?

    I bet ODF has plenty of backwards compatibility issues too.

    • by Twinkle ( 84777 ) on Friday August 24, 2007 @12:54PM (#20345283)
      ODF is fully specified, OOXML is not.

      There's no comparison, ODF is a complete description of a document, OOXML has things like "use word 95 rules" or "important undocumented binary blob here". OOXML is a Trojan horse.
      • by miguel ( 7116 )
        If by fully specified, you mean "it completely avoided the formula issue", then yes.

        OOXML contains 700 pages to document that, ODF, zero.


        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Trelane ( 16124 )

          If by fully specified, you mean "it completely avoided the formula issue", then yes.
          False [oasis-open.org]

          It will be in ODF 1.2. What version of OOXML will address its critics' points?

        • by Raenex ( 947668 )

          If by fully specified, you mean "[ODF] completely avoided the formula issue", then yes.
          An interesting comment. I haven't been following the Microsoft vs Open Office battle in detail, so I googled around and found this blog entry [robweir.com] presenting the ODF side on the formula issue. The blog comments there hash it out further.

        • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

          So when do you think Microsoft, sorry Ecma, will correct the accessibility problems? You see, ODF1.0 is the ISO standard, but everybody agrees ODF1.1 is the specification to use. It corrects a few accessibility problems, unlike Microsoft [utoronto.ca].

          Or perhaps you can show me a link to a open process by Microsoft which tackles that (and the zillion other problems shown e.g. in grokdoc).

          Because you do know the link to the open process tackling the formula "problem".

          Aren't the open processes marvellous?

        • by Cyclops ( 1852 )
          Zero pages has a lot smaller error ratio than 700, by definition.

          In OOXML the errors and the explanation why they are real problems, would probably go well over it's 700 pages dedicated to formulas.

          Don't tell me you know what day of the week is 1/1/1900 according to OOXML?
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

      Is ODF really much better as a "standard" on which to build a world or are we really just sticking it to Microsoft here?

      OK, this ventures into troll territory, but I really mean it. ODF:OOXML::evolution:creationism. ODF and evolution are both working standards that can be argued and refined. OOXML and creationism are both nebulous descriptions of how things might be that leave out all the information necessary to properly discuss them.

      If you believe that evolution is a theory while creationism is a conjecture, then you must also believe that ODF is a standard while OOXML is an internal code document for approximately

      • "OK, this ventures into troll territory"

        No, I'm just ignorant.

        I've just been googling a bit to educate myself.

        First off, ODF seems to have nothing to do with Open Office - I thought it did. A format which isn't based on some software is good.

        Second, yes, OOXML really does look like the behemoth people are claiming. From the bits I've read there seems to be no way a normal person could ever implement it. It'd take hundreds of years.

        This document is a good one: Objections to OOXML [forums.scc.ca]

        Microsoft seems to have shot
    • Yes, it is. It is 1/10th the size, fully documented (no "spaceLikeWord98" tags) and references other open standards (PNG, MathML, etc.) rather than inventing its own new formats for such things. MS OOXML is just them documenting what they've already done and presenting it as a standard. It also shows just how *crappy* they code things (WTF? spaceLikeWord98?? What intern thought of that?). Compatibility issues will be solved by the document version and XML namespaces, not stupid 'workLikeODF1_0' tags.
    • by Pecisk ( 688001 )
      Ohh Lord, please not again that stupid "but...but...but other pupils has problems too" type of comment.

      Yes, ODF has problems. However, it's future are very clear that problems will be fixed and format will be naturally improved, with lot of input from MANY vendors which use it every day. And even those problems are quite nothing as OOXML ones which Microsoft simply refuses to fix.

      Let's be honest, Microsoft still thinks that it has *it* - t.i. that it has charm and cunningness to fool everyone on any subject
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      You could always just see for yourself.
  • There is no point to M$ in fixing the issues, here is why:

    The issues are mainly parts of the spec that are not properly defined anywhere. If M$ were to fix the issues then others would be able to implement (read/write) the file format. If others can implement the file format then M$ looses it's main strangle hold on word processors. So it makes no sense at all for M$ to spill the beans and allow other to compete on a level playing field.

    Let's say that M$ does properly specify the format, what else can i

  • This is not about Microsoft's monopolistic games nor is it about ODF vs OOXML. If Microsoft used open document formats it would not be very long before Microsoft was forced to reduce the price of Microsoft Office. Come on people, Microsoft Office is a decent program but it not worth the $380-680 that Microsoft charges for it. For Microsoft, ODF vs OOXML is about money and nothing else.

    Microsoft Office generates more than 6 billion dollars a year in revenues and Microsoft will do absolutely anything to prote

Trap full -- please empty.