Standards Norway confirms no DIS29500 irregularities
Norway's Dagens Næringsliv has an interesting story with details about some of the commercial dynamics behind the EU Commission's DG Comp investigation into the DIS29500 ballot process. (The article is in Norwegian - I have an English translation which I've asked for their permission to post, and which I've also said I am happy for them to post.)
In a letter dated February 8th this year the EU commission asks the national standardization organizations to report any irregularities in regards to Microsoft’s battle to get OOXML approved as an open industry standard.
This is the first report I've seen that confirms how a National Standards Body has responded to the DG Competition's questionnaire. The article confirms that Standards Norway received the letter and suggests that the EU Commission's action is based on media coverage:-
Also the Norwegian organization, Norwegian Standard, has received the letter, where the EU commission points to media coverage on the accusations of irregularities.
The EU commission wants answers to how Norwegian Standards prepared to it’s voting in ISO in September last year, as well as these last days – right before the verdict over the standard falls in the end of March.
The article goes on to give details of how Standards Norway responded (my emphasis):-
In its answering letter Ivar Jachwitz in Standard Norway says that there has been no irregular behavior in the Norwegian debate.
“We have not experienced any irregular behaviour that has compromised the process or the voting”, he writes in the letter from Standard Norway.
That's not all however, the article also details how Opera's Håkon Wium Lie is protesting this, claiming that the fact that Microsoft asked partners to consider writing to Standards Norway expressing support of DIS29500 is itself an irregularity. I know that Håkon is hardly Microsoft's biggest fan, and that Opera is a fully paid up member of ECIS of course but now he seems to be suggesting that Microsoft is wrong simply for seeking support for OpenXML. Standard Norway's deputy leader, Ivar Jachwitz, refutes this idea:-
"We have answered the questions EU has asked regarding the Norwegian standardization process. We do not think there has been done anything that could be seen as irregular. It is clear that this particular case is special, since we here are dealing with a piece of software made by a producer with a dominating position. It is however common for actors who are applying for standardization approval to seek support for their view", says Jachwitz.
That several companies, on request from Microsoft, have written a similar letter, is not viewed by Standard Norway as a problem.
"We appreciate a big engagement that shows how important the standardization work is. We do not see anything wrong in them having the same view", he says.
Microsoft Norway's Communication Director, Eirik Lae Solberg, is also quoted:-
Communication director in Microsoft Norway, Eirik Lae Solberg, says it has been up to each company wether to send the letter to Standard Norway.
- There has not been any form of pressure or offer of services in return. I note that 37 of our partners have chosen to support OOXML. I think it is rude to claim that Microsoft has paid for the support. We have not done that, says Lae Solberg.
He asks Wium Lie to document his accusations and points at the same time to that the opponents of the OOXML from his view has been putting excessive pressure on Standard Norway by showing up with similar t-shirts on the fall meeting where Norway’s tentative opinion was to be decided.
It's never been clear to me in all this is who is leaking details of this investigation to the press. I can't believe that it's DG Competition itself, and as the timing of the leaks seems intended to throw yet more FUD at the process I thought it was just one other aspect of the anti-OpenXML campaign. I am pleased to see that some of the truth is beginning to emerge. Hopefully we'll see other stories that detail what's really going on elsewhere too.