Pot meet kettle: Microsoft complains about IBM lobbying

Rob Weir of IBM has written an excellent rant about the whole Microsoft OOXML vs ODF battle, and about how ironic it is that Microsoft is complaining to the press about how IBM is lobbying against them unfairly. Its well written and it speaks truth. I’ve heard many stories from people involved in the standards world about how nasty the whole situation around OOXML is. When challenged about their tactics, the off the record response from Microsoft people is basically “hey, cmon, that’s how the game is played, everybody does it”. On the record, their policy seems to be to mimic the Bush administration press strategy: “if we keep repeating the same lying sound-bites over and over again, people will eventually accept them as the truth”.

The whole thing is sad. Microsoft’s attempts to standardize OOXML have been handled in just about the most non-open, non-inclusive, dirty way possible. I personally think that this is caused in large part by the technical origins of the file format: developed for Office 2003 as a serialization format that was only enabled in the top end Office SKUs, then iterated for Office 2007 to make the formats more complete. If you look at it from the point of view of the engineers on Office, it made perfect sense to pursue this technical path. But making something suitable as the basis for an open, published international standard was not one of their goals, and it shows.

Given a design that wasn’t technically well-suited for standardization, Microsoft’s business folks have resorted to ramrodding the specification through the standards process in an attempt to route around all the inevitable objections. And now that they find they haven’t managed to avoid all those problems as they’d hoped, they are resorting to dirty tricks and PR mind-games. And that brings us to the current press effort, with Jean Paoli doing his very own imitation of Nick Naylor.

Contrast that with the process by which Adobe is submitting PDF to ISO. We’ve bent over backwards to ensure that the submission is as clean as it can possibly be, and as a result the feedback we’ve gotten has been extremely positive. If Microsoft believes their own stuff is so great, they should follow our lead and make it into a standard the right way: by proving the value of their solution, responding to constructive criticism, and building a consensus.

[Update 24apr07 3:00pm] Fixed the first link to point to Rob Weir’s post instead of his comment feed. Sorry about that!

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~ by Andrew Shebanow on 24Apr07.

2 Responses to “Pot meet kettle: Microsoft complains about IBM lobbying”

  1. […] whole ballet-stuffing issue Rob Weir brought up so eloquently recently. This is the same issue I raised obliquely a few months back, because I didn’t have the evidence to back up the rumors I’d heard, and I’m glad […]

  2. […] A nice post on making standards by Dave McAlister of Adobe: Good Standards. I posted on the same topic last April, and what I said there still stands: Contrast that with the process by which Adobe is submitting […]

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