Tobias Brox collects some interesting stories of what happened in Norway:
2008-04 OOXML irregularities in Norway
[This is a draft written by Tobias Brox and may not reflect EFNs official point of view]
List of "irregularities", possible irregularities and "dishonesty" in the Norwegian OOXML "war". Disclaimer: We're not implying that anyone has broken any laws - but a technical standard should be evolved and approved on it's technical merits, not by political or commercial pressure, nor from personal opinions from administrative staff in SN.
- 2007: committee stuffing: the NS/K 185 committee grew from 6-7 persons to 30 persons due to the OOXML case. In Norway, the committee was stuffed from both parts, many of the new members were against OOXML. There exists a list of committee members being openly against OOXML (also including at least 5 old members of NS/K 185) available at http://people.opera.com/howcome/2008/ooxml/brev.html. [TODO: Do some research, find the full list of members before and after the "stuffing"]. At the other side of the table, there is at least Shahzad Rana, which is openly paid by Microsoft to lobby for the OOXML standard. There is also a representative from the Norwegian company Statoil working for OOXML. (What commercial interest does an oil company have in document formats anyway?)
- 2007: petition campaign: SN had an open hearing, where anyone was invited to write comments on OOXML. Microsoft initiated sort of a petition - ref http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=200708301301334 and http://www.digi.no/php/art.php?id=394678 (Norwegian). Of course, it is not illegal to seek support for ones view, but such a campaign is at least controversial - and there is reason to suspect that not all letters received were genuinely representing the official view of the organization sending the letter. Some of the letters were received without a valid signature. Some enquiries have been made towards Sametinget [Lappish Council]. They write back that "this is not to be considered as our official point of view", "this is not our normal procedure for participation in hearings", "we don't find it needed to correct this mistake since Norway anyway voted NO". They also write that they have decided to upgrade to Office 2007, that Lappish character support and support for old Office documents are important for them, and that it would be nice for them if OOXML became ISO-format.
- 2007: meeting haywire: Ivar Jachwitz was leading the meeting in SN/K 185 that is to give Norways vote to OOXML. The meeting is described by Geir Isene on http://blogs.freecode.no/isene/?p=3 - and it's pretty obvious Jachwitz have a strong wish for OOXML to pass through: "The meeting started out with [Jachwitz] trying to lay down the rules of the game: We are here to go through the documents with comments to the standard and only those comments that we agree on will be passed on to ISO. He took up the first point (mine) and asked: “Are there any disagreement to this point?“. Unsurprisingly, a lady from Microsoft replied “We disagree“. He went on “Ok, so we have a disagreement on this point” and was ready to move on to the next."
- 2007: Despite the attempts to quench the criticism against OOXML, the meeting ended up with quite some substantial comments against the OOXML standard. However, after the meeting, SN published a press statement describing our vote as a "conditional yes" (which technically is correct) and downplaying the comments sent to ISO - http://www.standard.no/imaker.exe?id=17235 (Norwegian)
- 2007: ECON, on assignment from Microsoft, delivers a report estimating the cost of the governments decision to publish user-editable documents in ODF format to be 778 MNOK. This report is based on false premises, i.e. that all publications as well as internal documents in the administration has to be converted to ODF, it is also based on an assumption that MS Office never will support ODF and that all administration and bureaucracy in Norway will forever use only MS Office. The conversion cost is not explicitly explained in the report, but set quite high - above 5 EUR pr document. The document is obviously worthless for anything except used as ammunition by Microsoft Norway. The report is found (in Norwegian) on http://www.econ.no/stream_file.asp?iEntityId=3332 and criticism (also in Norwegian) can be found on http://folk.uio.no/gisle/essay/ms12.html and http://audun.norblogg.net/2008/03/06/ooxml-odf-og-kostnader/
- 2008: The organization Abelia sent a letter to all members of the Norwegian parliament, citing the ECON report and recommending all members of parliament to work for OOXML being treated on equal terms with ODF. The letter (in Norwegian) is available on http://www.abelia.no/getfile.php/Rapporter_dokumenter/Seminarprogram/Brev%20til%20partigrupper%20om%20ODF-OXML-080123.pdf Abelia is a business association with almost 600 members. The chairman is representing Microsoft - http://www.abelia.no/english/
- On an enquiry from EU, Jachwitz tells there has been "no irregularities" regarding the OOXML "war" in Norway -http://notes2self.net/archive/2008/03/11/standards-norway-confirms-no-dis29500-irregularities.aspx - he should at least have reported the Microsoft petition campaign.
- 2008: Norway's delegation going to the BRM: Bjørnhild Sæterøy (hired as administrative staff in Standard Norge, apparently quite so positive to OOXML), Shahzad Rana (OOXML-Lobbyist hired by Microsoft), Knut Tungland (working for Statoil - which for some reason or another is backing OOXML) plus Erlend Øverby - neutral accessibility expert. SN made a press statement declaring the BRM as a big success - http://www.standard.no/imaker.exe?id=18477 - all other reports I've seen from the meeting says that there were only time to go through some few of all the comments.
- 2008: The SN/K 185 meeting discussing the outfall of the BRM went as expected - 20 members claimed the Norwegian comments hadn't been well enough covered in the BRM, and 5 members claimed they had been well enough covered. According to members present, Jachwitz did a good job handling the meeting - unfortunately, since there were no consensus in the meeting, he was free to send in his own point of view as Norway's official vote. The first official reason to appear on the web page was that the chances to improve the standard would be better if it is handled by ISO (so SN admits the standard is … eh … substandard) - a reasoning not discussed at all on the SN/K 185 meeting. After a while they had to come up with some better arguments than that - so they came up with http://www.standard.no/pronorm-3/data/f/0/18/67/6_2401_0/2008-04-01_Standards_Norway_handling_of_the_OOXML_voting_in_ISO__3.pdf (english). The arguments are rather thin and/or irrelevant. (details - in Norwegian: 2008-04 - avvisning av SNs OOXML-argumentasjon) So, one of the most important reasons is that, when considering the public enquiry, and all the letters coming in supporting OOXML, there was a "majority of yes votes"! Maybe all the Norwegians signing up the NoOOXML.org petition also should be counted?
- Jachwitz took over the role to moderate SN/K 185 because the previous leader was openly negative to OOXML and therefore not suitable to lead the committee. However, there are quite strong indications that Jachwitz from the very beginning wanted OOXML to go through.
- Jachwitz has been handling the case quite inconsistently. In the first SN/K 185 meeting, he demanded full agreement on any comments to be sent to ISO, meaning that the default vote in case one person wouldn't agree on any of the comments would be YES. Apparently he also told that the letter campaign would be disregarded, and that no voting would occur. The importance of a consensus in the committee was not so important on the second meeting - the meeting in the committee was without relevance at all, Jachwitz had already decided long time in advance that Norway was to change its vote from NO to YES - one of his reasonings being that "all the votes counted together, from the enquiry and meeting, there is a majority for YES"? It just doesn't make sense.