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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.

Comments

Brian Jones: Open XML Formats said:

Gray looks into some of the recent thoughts from Patrick Durusau: blogs.technet.com/.../within-minutes.aspx

# March 13, 2008 5:05 AM

Noticias externas said:

Gray looks into some of the recent thoughts from Patrick Durusau: blogs.technet.com/gray_knowlton

# March 13, 2008 6:02 AM

Andy said:

Why does an American company participate in a Norwegian standard process at all? Why do 37 of their partners "chose" to support OOXML.

# March 13, 2008 12:16 PM

hAl said:

[quote]Why do 37 of their partners "chose" to support OOXML. [/quote]

For instance because their business is providing MS Office solutions and then OOXML is a format that would be most usefull for their customers that have already use MS Office documents.

It would be stranger if partnercompanies of Microsoft would not support Office Open XML.

And sending a letter showing support isn't a major effort. I would expect at least a number of those partners to do a bit more to show their support if that was possible (which in Norway might not have been possible) like participating in the natinalstandards  bodies discussions for instance. If it is a format that your organization is likely to be implementing than participation would be something to consider carefully.

# March 13, 2008 1:46 PM

orcad said:

You need seizure of bank accounts or email accounts of the concerned companies.

The Commission does not seem to use the right methods to collect proofs.

They should do some raids in other to gather data:

EU Commission Raid Intel Offices in Germany

www.cdrinfo.com/.../Details.aspx

# March 13, 2008 7:47 PM

Stephen McGibbon said:

Orcad, the European Commission can already sieze email I believe. Siezing bank accounts is a little extreme don't you think?

I see you're IP address is in Brussels. (It may be a bug though, because it looks like you share an IP address with Andy/André). Are you associated with the Commission directly or indirectly at all?

# March 14, 2008 12:43 PM

hAl said:

Microsofts competitors lobby club ECIS is probably located in Brussels, as might some other IBM funded lobby activities like EUPACO.

So there is a wide range of organizations that people can be affiliated to.

# March 15, 2008 9:27 AM

yoa said:

i do not belive a single word from standards norway. we'll see after the investigation...

# April 2, 2008 5:28 PM