Just because it worked, it doesn't mean we did it
By patrickf on Aug 30, 2007
So is standardisation a game or a process? I ask this after reading Jason Matusow's staggering act of disingenuity about Microsoft's apparent offering of incentives and ready-formed opinions to partners (mostly Swedish IT resellers) for them to join the Swedish Standards Institute (SIS) and vote in favour of accepting Microsoft's not uncontroversial Office Open XML specification\*.
After Computer Sweden broke this news, Microsoft helpfully clarified that they didn't actually do anything wrong because they, er, realised what they were doing was wrong. And so 18 Microsoft Gold Partners joined SIS and voted to approve Microsoft Open Office XML last Monday, in spite of these incentives being retracted. Mr Matusow says that incentives were only offered to two partners in the first place, the quote in Computer Sweden said it was "a few" (”ett fåtal”).
Mr Matusow wants to be clear - the incentives were retracted, and any other lobbying was not actually against any rules, and therefore fair game:
"It is critical to note that the addition of voting members at that time was completely within the rules of the national standards body.
...While there are many arguments to be had over the relative merits of this rule…it is a rule nonetheless.
...The process and vote at SIS were not affected."
Well, we do rather have to take his word for it, but either way, it would be only be "critical" if all you are actually interested in is the formal approval of a respected international standards body - or "playing to win". If you were seeking to make a good standard (i.e. submitting to the process), wouldn't it be critical to note that the 6 months of work that SIS delegates did examining the specification will not now see the light of day because of addition of so many parties to the vote at the very last moment?
ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer
\* we're told it was a "zealous" employee. For an idea of just what a zealous employee might look like, click here.