MS-OOXML's Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) is coming up, and countries have until December 11 to propose a delegation to represent them, with the possibility of updating it until a later date prior the the meeting.
Microsoft is the president of the Portuguese TC (CT173), and is promoting Portugal's national body (IPQ) to send a delegation to ISO. Isolated incident or part of a global strategy to control an approval of MS-OOXML?
Why participate? Do all ISO member countries have the duty to participate?
ISO kindly published a FAQ about OOXML's BRM, and it confirms that only countries who voted DISAPPROVAL have a duty to go.
So countries who voted APPROVAL WITH COMMENTS, like Portugal, do not have a duty to go.
This generated some debate among a few members of CT173. Some have asked whether there are comments which, if not resolved, will imply a change of vote.
The answer was simply not given, revealing a hidden intention of not changing the vote, regardless of the result of the disposition of comments.
If the vote won't change, and there's no duty to participate in the BRM, why participate?
There is only one reason: to approve any and all changes proposed by Microsoft, through the disguise of ECMA, regardless of merit.
Microsoft and its friends will immediately try to shout "It's not Microsoft, it's ECMA!". What did ECMA say about it?
At the General Assembly meeting on 8 December 2005, Ecma International has created Technical Committee 45 (TC45) to produce a formal standard for office productivity applications that is fully compatible with the Office Open XML Formats, submitted by Microsoft.
If it's fully compatible, then let's be gentlemen and avoid insulting misdirection: OOXML's changes will arrive via ECMA, but who other than Microsoft can ensure full compatibility with it's formats? Microsoft will effectively write the plot, if not the script.
How can you maintain full compatibility if the document is changed?
You can't for two reasons:
- Microsoft Office doesn't respect OOXML anyways, so full compatibility has already failed
- Unless you pretend to change it. Changes will be inconsequential. Maybe they'll define autoSpaceLikeWord95 as being possible to guess by buying Word 95 and measuring the spacing with a ruler on your monitor's screen (like Stephen McGibbon did in Portugal). Nevermind dot pitch, different fonts, resolution, or not even being possible to buy Word95 anymore.
So what does Microsoft have to do in order to reach success?
Approve all changes it itself proposed via ECMA regardless of merit.
And the only way to ensure that is to control the Delegations sent by National Bodies to ISO. They will mask it under the false pretense of representativity.
For instance, in Portugal, Microsoft will send itself, a Gold Certified Partner, and a portuguese Free Software company, as delegates to ISO.
Are all delegates equal?
No, one delegate is more equal than the others, in fact one delegate is the Head of Delegation. He will cast the vote, on all votes that happen at the BRM.
But it can get worse. The participation is limited to 120 delegates, if 40 countries each send 3 delegates, a limit will be reached. Since there are almost 90 countries, some delegates will definitely have to be sacrificed.
At the very least, controlling the Head of Delegation will be Microsoft's short-term gold rush. Guess who's the self proposed Head of Delegation in Portugal? Yup. Microsoft. It is very likely they will succeed, since they do control CT173. Placing an opponent in the delegation while controlling the Head of Delegation is merely an act of expendable decoration.
So, is this happening on other countries? I know of at least one more that seems to be a mirror of Portugal, but I'll let the testimonies follow suit as comments to this story.