I really must commend Patrick Durusau's innate capability of writing the most inflammatory and outrageous publications, publications that are so divorced from reality that one cannot help but think that the dude must be hoarding some seriously good weed to be able to live so completely within his own defined existence. His latest publication, "Not With a Bang, but With a Whimper", has been receiving flak from the collective open standards community for exactly that reason and rightly so.
Patrick writes that:
Signs the document standards war was entirely fictitious have been around for quite some time. Where was the Microsoft opposition to OpenDocument in standards bodies such as OASIS and ISO? Perhaps they forgot? Didn't get the memo?
Given that we at OpenMalaysiaBlog, as open standards supporters, have been at the forefront of receiving the brunt of their vicious (and often personal) attacks on ODF, I find Patrick's assertions as ridiculous and cockeyed at best, and deliberately offensive at worst.
Microsoft has been running an anti-ODF campaign in favour of OOXML for a long long time now. In Malaysia, their campaign started with opposition to Malaysia's proposed adoption of ODF ISO26300:2006 as a voluntary standard by invoking Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt on the ODF standard. The campaign continued on by personally attacking members of the technical committee who were in favour of ODF, by casting undue aspersions on their characters, in particular, insinuating that we were subversive agents of IBM intent on the destruction of Microsoft (apparently, anybody who supports truly open standards is a biased IBM agent).
In fact, during a technical standards meeting on ODF, senior management of Microsoft Malaysia printed out an unrelated and personal blog post from Yoon Kit (in which he was slightly critical of a Malaysian government agency whose representative was also present during the meeting), passed it around to all members present in the meeting and demanded for proper ethical conduct from members. That's right, folks - he printed out a non-technical blog post and attempted to cast a false and misleading charge on the character of a member of the technical meeting.
To the credit of the representative of the government agency in question and the chairman of the meeting, the meeting was quickly brought to order. The representative of the government agency did not have a problem with Yoon Kit's blog post but Microsoft Malaysia did. Note that this is not hearsay, I witnessed this first hand and was thoroughly shocked at the extent Microsoft would go to destroy any perceived threat to their Microsoft Office cash cow. The Microsoft Malaysia representative in question also distributed printed blog posts from OpenMalaysia and circled the name of a member of this blog who also happens to be an IBM employee, insinuating to all that members of OpenMalaysia are influenced by IBM in pushing for a pro-ODF stand. This happened during a meeting to discuss the technical aspects on ODF!
That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).
If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).
That's right, Patrick, every single negative letter on ODF can be traced back to Microsoft. And you ask where was Microsoft's opposition to ODF? Here is a letter by Yasmin Mahmood, Microsoft Malaysia Managing Director to the head of the Malaysian standards organization, opposing ODF as a voluntary standard (note that I have digital copies of all the letters in questions, if you wish to read them):
Patrick, you write that:
Need more? Watch the reaction to this announcement by Microsoft. Remember the cry has been that Microsoft should adopt OpenDocument. Microsoft has now adopted OpenDocument and it will be devoting resources to its development. For those unfamiliar with the concept, that means Microsoft will be making a positive contribution to the ODF development effort.
My recommendation is that everyone put up their noise makers and welcome Microsoft to the OpenDocument community and prepare to work with them to advance its development
Patrick, you make the assumption that those who are opposing OOXML are doing it solely because we oppose Microsoft. You couldn't be more wrong and I think it's high time you recognize the most excellent effort by many parties in helping improve the OOXML specification.
Yoon Kit and myself have spent countless weekends and many, many, many man hours finding ways of improving the proposed standard. My report to the TC, based on the reading made of the proposed standard, have always been on a solely technical basis, and Patrick, you of all people, should accede to the fact that there are/were severe technical deficiencies in the proposed standard and that input from members of National Bodies helped improve the specification.
The campaign against Open XML was at its start, in the middle and at the end an anti-Microsoft campaign. The merits or demerits of Open XML were simply a convenient launching point for criticisms of Microsoft.
Making the dangerous argument that "the merits or demerits of OOXML were simply a convenient launching point for criticisms of Microsoft" works to undermine the important constructive value of criticism, which is to improve the proposed standard in question. The logic you have employed, that any attempt to criticize the technical deficiencies in OOXML is equated to criticism of Microsoft, is superfluous. By any measure, our criticism and feedback has helped improve the proposed standard immeasurably and you simply must recognize that, if intellectual honesty carries still carries weight with you.
Patrick, to further claim that we are solely "noise makers" does irreparable damage to value of the work we have put into improving the proposed standard. In fact, some of the decent folk at Microsoft (yes, they actually exist) helped arrange a conference call to Brian Jones, whose input helped clarify some the issues I was attempting to understand. I subsequently revised my technical contribution to the TC based on the clarification by Brian Jones. Your assertion that we are doing this so as to criticize Microsoft is an unfair charge and only serves to undermine your already dwindling reputation among the open standards community.
Now, when I was first told about Microsoft Office support for ODF by a Microsoft employee, my reaction was: "Awesome!". Then I puzzled for a minute over why they didn't do this two years ago and avoid opposing the passage of ODF as a Malaysian standard. In any case, the following day, I relayed this message to Yasmin Mahmood, the Microsoft Malaysia Managing Director, with an invitation for OpenMalaysia Blog to interview her on this positive and constructive development. I've not heard back from Yasmin on my invitation, but let me publicly assure the lady that the invitation is still open and we are committed to publishing the interview verbatim (word for word). Yoon Kit and I also offered to publicize the good work Microsoft is doing on ODF by running an interview with them. Brian and Doug, that invitation is still open if you choose to accept it by answering the questions we sent to you 11 days ago.
So all in all, Patrick, you owe us an apology for your thoughtless remarks, your unfair insinuations and biased connotations on our character.