Indian comments on Microsoft pressure over OOXML

So we have now had a number of appeals from national bodies over the farcical approval of OOXML at the ISO BRM, so hopefully now we’ll get a proper review (and maybe even a final draft) of the standard that not even Microsoft is implementing.

As part of the associated fallout a letter from the Indian refusal to bow to Microsoft pressure to depart from common sense and to vote against OOXML Dr. Deepak B. Phatak has published an open letter to his fellow committee members detailing Microsofts inappropriate behaviour towards Indian organisations, government and individuals which includes the classic line:

My greatest angst against Microsoft is in their arrogance in telling Indian government about Indian ‘national interest’, particularly at the highest levels of the leadership. One really wonders whether they even properly understand what a nation is.

Good on ya!

Microsoft demonstrates why DRM is a Bad Idea ™

From Techdirt:

Playsforsure was so bad that Microsoft didn’t even use it for its own Zune digital media device. Along with that, Microsoft shut down its failed online music store, and now for the kicker, it’s telling anyone who was suckered into buying that DRM’d content that it’s about to nuke the DRM approval servers that let you transfer the music to new machines. That means you need to authorize any songs you have on whatever machine you want — and that’s the only place they’ll be able to reside forever. And, of course, any upgrade to your operating system (say from XP to Vista) and you lose access to your music as well.

So now you find out that with DRM you don’t really own the music you bought, it can get taken away from you very easily, but you won’t get your money back I bet!

Norways OOXML “yes” vote was down to ONE person

It appears through a process of elimination of the nearly 30 attendees at the Standard Norway meeting on OOXML the decision to vote yes was made unilaterally by the vice-president of Standard Norway.

When the original attendees could not reach consensus on 8 of the 12 comments (having agreed that 2 were not satisfactorily resolved and 2 were) he dismissed 23 attendees. When the remaining 7 could not agree he dismissed another 4 and when the remaining 2 could not agree…

The VP thereupon declared that there was still no consensus, so the decision would be taken by him.

He voted “yes”.

So this one bureaucrat, a man who by his own admission had no understanding of the technical issues, had chosen to ignore the advice of his Chairman, of 80% of his technical experts, and of 100% of the K185 old-timers.

Sears – purveyors of Spyware to the masses ?

I wonder how many people using Windows have been bitten by this new spyware, as related by the Computer Associates Security Advisor Blog ? is distributing spyware that tracks all your Internet usage – including banking logins, email, and all other forms of Internet usage – all in the name of “community participation.” Every website visitor that joins the Sears community installs software that acts as a proxy to every web transaction made on the compromised computer. In other words, if you have installed Sears software (“the proxy”) on your system, all data transmitted to and from your system will be intercepted.

The mention of “banking logins” is to get your attention, because as this apparently hoovers up all your traffic it will get whatever you do, presumably including credit cards, etc.

They also have an interesting take on how to do privacy policies:

What I have come to learn is that if you navigate to you could actually get one of two policies. […] If you access that URL with a machine compromised by the Sears proxy software, you will get the policy with direct language (like “monitors all Internet behavior”). If you access the policy using an uncompromised system, you will get the toned down version (like “provide superior service”). Both policies share the same URL and same look and feel – coloring, page layout, Kmart and Sears branding, etc.

In other words they have a policy that implies that it’s inoccuous prior to installation, which then springs into sharp relief once you’ve crossed the Rubicon and installed their spyware – nice touch!

(Via Bruce Schneier)

Microsoft’s tactics are killing the standards process..

After the previous reports of Microsoft stacking standards bodies, Andy Updegrove points out that there is now a far more insidious problem facing the ISO/IEC Standards Committee 34 as a result of its suddenly inflated membership.

The rules of the committee require at least 50% of the ‘P’ status members (not the observing members) return a vote in response to every ballot request (even an ‘abstain’ vote counts).

At the end of 2006 the committee had 23 members, having gained 5 over the previous 2 years.

By the time of the OOXML vote in September the number had more than doubled – and 22 new countries joined between April and the end of August, plus there were 11 new ‘P’ members.

The problem now is that none of the new ‘P’ members are bothering to vote – the last 3 ballots have failed because that 50% figure has not been hit. As Andy writes:

While I’m told that 90% of committee votes have achieved the necessary 50% return in the past, the current numbers tell a far different story: the three most recent (SC 34 N 870, SC 34 872 and SC 34 N 874) have all failed because of P member apathy. As I read the tallies at those links, only one recent P member responded to a single ballot, even after some ballots had been reissued for a second or even a third time. Had it not been necessary to include the new P members in the calculations, the second two votes would have passed (the first related to establishing a liaison relationship with another organization, and not a standard).

They haven’t even bothered to return an ‘abstain’ vote. This pretty much confirms that the only reason they could have joined the committee for was to vote “Yes (without comments)” on Microsofts OOXML proposal. 🙁

Andy then goes on to quote from the weekly memos of Secretariat Manager, Ken Holman, as in increasing desperation he tries to coax the new members into meeting their obligations and voting on ballots that are dieing from lack of interest. Here is the penultimate quote in the series to give you a flavour..


You will see at that link that (as of Sunday evening) only 7 member bodies of our 38 participating members have actually submitted a ballot response….Since the recent influx of new P-members to SC 34, not a single ballot has been able to be processed…

It is critically important that P-members remember their obligations: if we do not get 20 responses per ballot, the work of SC 34 will grind to a halt….If you do not plan to participate in the work of SC 34, please consider changing your membership to Observer status. For those national bodies that joined in the interests of DIS 29500 Ecma 376 OOXML, remember that P-member/O-member status in SC 34 has no effect on attendance and voting at the Ballot Resolution Meeting being held in February. If this is your only interest, it would serve SC 34 well to change your membership status to O-member.

One wonders if they will suddenly spring back into life when Microsofts XPS standard arrives there.

Microsoft – put up or shut up

So Steve Balmer said:

for the appropriate fee Novell customers also get essentially the right to use our patented intellectual property. And I think it’s great the way Novell stepped up to kind of say intellectual property matters. People use Red hat, at least with respect to *our* intellectual property in a sense have an obligation to eventually compensate us.

Now, Mr Balmer, precisely whatpatented intellectual property” are you talking about here ? Please be specific, patent numbers would be very handy..

Or are you just trying on a shakedown with vague threats to see what easy protection money may come your way now that Vista and Office 2007 aren’t selling so well ?

Thanks Novell, for nothing..

SCO files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

From Groklaw:

Here’s the title of the press release: “The SCO Group Files Chapter 11 to Protect Assets as It Addresses Potential Financial and Legal Challenges”, which you can find here. They say reorganization “ensures business as usual.”

It may also act as a useful extra delaying tactic in the determination of how much they owe Novell in their trial..

Some of SCO’s remaining claims were yet to be decided at trial, which was to begin Sept. 17. The trial will be stayed under bankruptcy law, according to Novell public relations director Bruce Lowry. “We’ll be looking at our options,” he said.