Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kenya votes in favour of EMCA/Microsoft's OOXML

Just heard that Kenya voted YES.

I am personally sad that this happened, though considering the composition of the committee (a seizable number were Microsoft dealers/partners approx 7 of 12). I hope to get more details on this.

The case for not adopting OOXML remains simple. It is not as open as it is made out to be by the main proponent(s). (visit http://www.noooxml.org/ for more info)

As far as I know, only Microsoft Office 2007 can save documents in this format.

If this standard is to be truly open, it needs to be vendor independent among many things.

More details here:

http://www.dwheeler.com/blog/2007/06/05/

17 comments:

Emmanuel said...

You are Personally sad that Kenya Voted "YES" to another standard? Interesting argument you have there - Ask yourself... doesn't that afford you choice? Choise is BAD? Since when? This sounds like pure activism.


-ISO standardization means passing the control of the format to an organization where countries of the world are taking the final decision

- ODF came from OASIS and Open XML From ECMA international (who took Microsoft's spec and involved other vendors - IBM is a member of ECMA). ECMA & OASIS are standards organizations where commercial companies are playing an important role. That’s why ISO standards are so important for the public good: they are made by countries

-Since in Kenya there are more MS Office documents I think for Kenyan's it should be transferred to countries because only countries will manage it for the common good.

-those advocating a NO vote are basically implying that countries should not be involved and we dont need our existing documents in a format that can be read/or created by any Kenya developer

-I am not surprised that it is a commercial company that is pushing for a NO vote. This is wrong.

-That being said, a YES vote should not be a blind vote. Spot the deficiencies and required improvement and comment them. Then participate in the Ballot Resolution Meeting and make your point and get involved in SC34 to exert your control right.

emmanuel said...

Go to the link for an extended debate on this:


http://blogs.msdn.com/ebirech/archive/2007/08/16/kenya-votes-in-favour-of-emca-open-xml.aspx

Josiah said...

>You are Personally sad that Kenya >Voted "YES" to another standard?

Personally sad because the composition of the board was not balanced and thus resulted in a yes vote. I only knew about this through a friend and only days before the committee met to decide this. So much for public participation.

--
>This sounds like pure activism.

-I would call it an alternative view. Debate is good. I argue from a technological and non commercial point of view (most of the time)

-Choice is good. That's why I love open standards, software etc. That's why I use a Ubuntu system at home and a Windows system at work (I have no choice there though ).
-Choice is good. When I used to play PC games, I used Windows because Linux is not fully mature for gaming.
--
>Since in Kenya there are more MS >Office documents I think for >Kenyans it should be transferred >to countries because only >countries will manage it for the >common good.
- Will there be predominately MS Office documents in 20,30 years? No one knows.
- I would want to be able to open any document made with any document editor without having to pay anything (extra). Is there any guarantee that this will be the case?
--
>those advocating a NO vote are >basically implying that countries >should not be involved and we dont >need our existing documents in a >format that can be read/or created >by any Kenya developer

- Not true. There already exists an ISO standard (ODF) which should enable this to be done. Problem is that most documents are in MS Office format. MS office doesn't support ODF natively (despite being an ISO standard).
- A NO vote: OOXML is an immature documentation of one vendor's proprietary document format which depends on software patents held by this vendor, which block interoperability and it conflicts with existing ISO standards.

--
>That being said, a YES vote should >not be a blind vote. Spot the >deficiencies and required >improvement and comment them.

That there are deficiencies is reason enough to vote NO. Work on the deficiencies and then vote on a mature standard not the current state of OOXML

emmanue said...

ODF is not mature too and thus the reason for minimal adoption by software vendors. It passed as a standard because it was "First to standardize" and being the first is no good reason. Competing standards should be allowed and the market decides. If ODF was mature why would OASIS be putting ODF version 1.1 out there to go through the same process?

ODF has minimal spreadsheet capability and was created to suit different needs.

You do not pay someone to use ISO standards. The IPR belongs to ISO and is free for any implementer. All i keep hearing is the same FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) being spread over this issue - completely untrue

emmanuel said...

Organisations represented:

1. Strathmore University
2. IBM Central Africa
3. Microsoft E A
4. Computer Society of Kenya (CSK)
5. Kenya Airways Ltd.
6. UN WFP Kenya
7. National Council for Law Reporting
8. Manageworks Systems
9. Virtual City
10. Vega software Ltd.
11. School of Computing and Informatics, UON
12. National Council for Science and Technology
13. JKUAT
14. LPA
15. Openworld Ltd

It appears only 1 is a MS business partner. Again in the IT industry a lot of the multinationals share business partners. a Local IT company usually partners with all the big companies e.g. Open View business systems would be an MS, IBM, Oracle, Siemens partner all at once.

The Wert said...

Hello,

The one question I have on this is , Does Microsoft intend to Patent OpenXML or is there a patent application pending?
No one is against choice. The entire essence of FOSS is about choice, but not when choice means that you will eventually end up being locked into one vendor - I guess this is what people fear and why maybe we have so much 'FUD' being spread about both ODF and Open XML.
True, ODF has it's deficiencies but I do believe that an open process is what will bring about better standard.
The other thing that guys seem to be concerned about is Microsoft's push for Open XML. When a standard is seen to being aggressively pushed by a company that has a history of not providing choice, people get wary and suspicious. True this is not a very technological argument, but I guess it is what is happening on the outside.
So, the question is, if the push for Open XML fails and it isn't recognised as a standard, will Microsoft support ODF natively rather than through a plugin?

Andrew

Josiah said...

> Organisations represented:

Was not sure about the list (I stand corrected on this..(a seizable number were Microsoft dealers/partners approx 7 of 12). I hope to get more details on this.

Patrick said...

you betray the whole intention of the exercise when you say that let market ($$$$) decide.

Again why you choose to publish the list if at all it was to be transparent if am not wrong from the posts on skunkworks people habe been seeking info on the committee. It is only appearing after the vote has taken. what was the problem with taking the debate to the knowledgeable public throu appropriate forums.

Josiah said...

> Organisations represented:

Are the 15 organisations represented those entitled to vote in the committee?

AFAIK there were supposed to be 12 ?

emmanuel said...

All members of the committee are eligible to vote as far as I know. Just that some don’t take it seriously and ignore all meetings. Number is 15 as listed above.

Patrick - Isn't letting the market decide not = choice? No money is involved when using any ISO standard. My attention was drawn to skunkworks only yesterday.

http://blogs.msdn.com/ebirech/

emmanuel said...

US Vote:

The US results of posted INCITS Executive Board letter ballots are public. You can see the results and posted comments at:
http://ballot.itic.org/itic/tallyvote.taffunction=vote&committee=INCITS&ballot_id=2212&_UserReference=2FEDE61B0E1C009E46BC3F78

The outcome of 9th August vote was 8 yes votes, 7 no votes and 1 abstain. Please note that while the ‘yes, with comments’ ballot has not yet received the required 2/3 majority vote, 57% of the initial votes cast were supportive of Open XML. A final decision from the US national body has not been reached.

emmanuel said...

the wert:

Look at the Open Specification promise regarding patents. Basically anything you need to implement Open XML is available under the OSP.

Feedback From Representatives of the Community

OSP GENERAL
“Red Hat believes that the text of the OSP gives sufficient flexibility to implement the listed specifications in software licensed under free and open source licenses. We commend Microsoft’s efforts to reach out to representatives from the open source community and solicit their feedback on this text, and Microsoft's willingness to make modifications in response to our comments.”
Mark Webbink
Deputy General Counsel
Red Hat, Inc.
“I see Microsoft’s introduction of the OSP as a good step by Microsoft to further enable collaboration between software vendors and the open source community. This OSP enables the open source community to implement these standard specifications without having to pay any royalties to Microsoft or sign a license agreement. I'm pleased that this OSP is compatible with free and open source licenses.”
Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com)
Stanford University, Lecturer in Law
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
707-485-1242 * fax: 707-485-1243
Author of "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law" (Prentice Hall 2004)
“The Microsoft open specification promise is a very positive development. In the university and open source communities, we need to know that we can implement specifications freely. This promise will make it easier for us to implement Web Services protocols and information cards and for them to be used in our communities.”
RL "Bob" Morgan
Chair, Middleware Architecture Committee for Education (MACE)
Senior Technology Architect, University of Washington



http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/default.mspx

Some text from the OSP:

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing or distributing any implementation to the extent it conforms to a Covered Specification (“Covered Implementation”), subject to the following. This is a personal promise directly from Microsoft to you, and you acknowledge as a condition of benefiting from it that no Microsoft rights are received from suppliers, distributors, or otherwise in connection with this promise. If you file, maintain or voluntarily participate in a patent infringement lawsuit against a Microsoft implementation of such Covered Specification, then this personal promise does not apply with respect to any Covered Implementation of the same Covered Specification made or used by you. To clarify, “Microsoft Necessary Claims” are those claims of Microsoft-owned or Microsoft-controlled patents that are necessary to implement only the required portions of the Covered Specification that are described in detail and not merely referenced in such Specification. “Covered Specifications” are listed below.

This promise is not an assurance either (i) that any of Microsoft’s issued patent claims covers a Covered Implementation or are enforceable or (ii) that a Covered Implementation would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party. No other rights except those expressly stated in this promise shall be deemed granted, waived or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel, or otherwise.

http://www.microsoft.com/interop/osp/default.mspx

Dorcas said...

emmanuel said...

Organisations represented:

1. Strathmore University
2. IBM Central Africa
3. Microsoft E A
4. Computer Society of Kenya (CSK)
5. Kenya Airways Ltd.
6. UN WFP Kenya
7. National Council for Law Reporting
8. Manageworks Systems
9. Virtual City
10. Vega software Ltd.
11. School of Computing and Informatics, UON
12. National Council for Science and Technology
13. JKUAT
14. LPA
15. Openworld Ltd

This not correct; as far as i know:
14. LPA
15. Openworld Ltd
were not members and did not vote and only attended last minute meetings.

At the last meeting: i did not see representatives from:
11. School of Computing and Informatics, UON
13. JKUAT

this was an AfricaDotNet represantive which is basically Microsoft
6. UN WFP Kenya

I am not sure about the presense of

12. National Council for Science and Technology
7. National Council for Law Reporting

at the voting meeting

so emmanuel, that is not correct.

But also these sitting allowances, i would like to know more about the funding source. I did not recieve but i know committee members got paid!

Evans Ikua said...

Thats very true Muthoni. LPA and Open World only participated in the last two meetings, more or less as friends of the committee. We were not even present during the actual voting (I heard that it was a matter of procedure). What Emmanuel can tell this forumis the actual number of people who voted and who they are in terms of MS partnerships.
Allowances? Thats a good one...
Evans

NW said...

I find this rather amusing.
"... competing standards is a good thing..." ???
Really. competing implementations of a single standard is a good thing. Thats why I can be able to type into this blog, using SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, Firefox (HTML), TCP /IP, English Alphabet etc etc.
The other. How exactly does 15 firms chosen by 'someone' become a good representation of the Kenyan community?
The end users are the ones very affected by these standards. Why do us, Kenyans, have to pay 30K just to be able to view our OWN documents. Its absurd.
I am glad the people are realizing that we need to come of the shackles that have been imposed by us, and we are surely but truly wisening up.
I am just GLAD that GK is listening, and very soon you might have to submit your documents in a standard that does not require citizens to pay their yearly per capita GDP.

radicallysaved said...

I am actually more convinced that voting "YES" to OOXML not only gives developers and the market in general a choice, but it gives ODF a perfect opportunity to legitimise it's application in the market.

Further, am convinced that the best technology will prevail. Time will tell.

goodluck said...

US Vote:-

The US National Body (INCITS Executive Board) passed a motion this evening to cast a “Yes with Comments” vote on DIS29500 – the voting was:

• 16 Yes (Apple, US Department of Homeland Security, EIA, EMC, GS1 US, HP, Intel, Lexmark, Microsoft, NIST, Sony and the US Department of Defense)
• 3 No (Oracle, IBM, Farance Inc.) and
• 1 Abstain (IEEE).

http://ballot.itic.org/itic/tallyvote.taf?function=vote&committee=INCITS&ballot_id=2341&_UserReference=96EBDF227BF339D246CE4E20


after the lobbying for and against!