The Netherlands always remind me of cheese, drugs and domino below the sea level. In the Standard Committee of the Netherlands the deliberations of the Committee faced a late and surprising minority blocking by Microsoft Netherlands. Subsequently the opinions and comments on OOXML in the Netherlands could not be fully reflected in the ISO September ballot on DIS 29500. The Dutch used their swear words of choice.
Also The Netherlands have a great tradition of dijk building that is essential for their national survival and deeply rooted in their civilization. It translated well into "a groundswell of public interest in open standards". The Parliament of the Netherlands (Tweede Kamer) just adopted an action plan on open source and open standards which is very big news and you certainly already read about it in the news. Right before Christmas when Parliaments usually take a holiday break.
The responsible minister reportedly measures the appropriateness of the proposed means by the fact that Microsoft opposed the plan.
The 26 pages document embraces the EU IDABC minimum requirements of open standards but makes up additionally new terminology: Open specifications and Free specifications:
• Open Specificatie: een open specificatie is een specificatie die is gepubliceerd en over het document van deze specificatie kan vrijelijk worden beschikt. Of het is te verkrijgen tegen een nominale bijdrage. Het moet voor een ieder mogelijk zijn op het te kopiëren, beschikbaar te stellen en te gebruiken ‘om niet’ of tegen een nominale prijs.
• Vrije Specificatie: een vrije specificatie is een open specificatie die vrij is van juridische beperkingen die het gebruik en verspreiding bemoeilijken. Het intellectuele eigendom – met betrekking tot mogelijk aanwezige patenten – van (delen van) de standaard is onherroepelijk ter beschikking gesteld aan iedereen op een ‘royaltie free’ basis.
Regardless what the Parliament plan actually concludes, the results are a depiction of the state of Microsoft public affairs. It is no surprise that ISO 26300:2006 was explicitly endorsed and the Netherlands will step up to promote it. However, the market still relies on the products of the company and it has - sorry guys - the superior office products which it unfortunately does not provide for my operating system. I would suggest it could be time to rethink corporate strategy and adopt the existing international standard ISO 26300:2006. Additionally the French proposal is still an offer for compromise between the formats but the windows of opportunities are closing as public administrations in Europe coincidently switch to ODF and Microsoft is left in the cold, cold winter.
Ministry spokesman … van Scherrenburg said some organizations will still be permitted to use proprietary software, if they are able to justify it. (Source)
Beware of the Open XML standardization domino effect, Microsoft. <No>OOXML supporters —you — should consider that lost struggles due to opponents that play against the rules1 can be turned into landslide victories. Blogging and other communication can make a huge difference, esp. in a small nation as the Netherlands. ECMA understood that - and clamped the information on DIS 29500 down. In my opinion openness and transparency are really the key to generate better international standards that are widely accepted. Quality by obscurity does not work. Back to the question:
What do you do in public affairs when your reputation is below sea level and hiring a tobacco lobbyist is no option? Maybe the compliance with ISO 26300:2006 is an option for your company. The Netherlands aim for it if you want to continue business with them.
It is hard to believe, but Heise reports that Microsoft was threatening the Dutch government to sue it before the European Court of Juctice which would be a competition case.