October 1, 2007

FFII awards Microsoft “Best Campaigner against OOXML Standardization” prize

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Brussels, 1st October 2007 — Microsoft itself is the surprise winner of the FFII’s “Kayak Prize 2007”, offered by the FFII in its <NO>OOXML call for rejection of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) standards proposal. The software monopolist is honored as “Best Campaigner against OOXML Standardization”.

On September 3rd, ISO announced that the Microsoft proposal had not gathered enough support to be accepted as it is. ISO will now review the comments made on the proposal, and make a final decision in February 2008. FFII president Pieter Hintjens explains, “we could never have done this by ourselves. By pushing so hard to get OOXML endorsed, even to the point of loading the standards boards in Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, and beyond, Microsoft showed to the world how poor their format is. Good standards just don’t need that kind of pressure. All together, countries made over ten thousands technical comments, a new world record for an ISO vote. Microsoft made a heroic — and costly — effort to discredit their own proposal, and we’re sincerely grateful to them.”

The FFII Board says the monopolist can collect its prize of 2,500 Euros, minus the cost of registering the noooxml.org domain, 12 euros. FFII vice-president Alberto Barrionuevo explains, “we ran a cheap campaign, mostly through that single website. So we’re happy with a token reimbursement of our costs. Several of the Kayak prize nominees told us they did not want any financial reward for their work. So if Microsoft does not send someone to the award ceremony, we’ll give the money to the Peruvian earthquake fund.”

50,000 people from almost a hundred countries have signed the FFII’s petition against OOXML to date. Hintjens concludes, “OOXML is not yet dead, even though it’s been seriously discredited. Microsoft has one last chance to fix the design flaws and patent problems, and present a clean proposal next February. We think they will make cosmetic fixes and then push all the harder. It’s exactly the worst approach and will alienate many governments, possibly spelling the end of their global office monopoly.”

Background Information

ISO member organizations started on a fast-track process for the 6000-page Microsoft OOXML format, despite problems highlighted by the FFII in an open letter in January 2007. Among other shortcomings, Microsoft’s proposal damages the adoption of the existing ISO 26300 standard (OpenDocument) that covers similar functionality in just 700 pages. ISO 26300 is being adopted by most of the industry except Microsoft.

The FFII has highlighted serious problems with the proposed standard. It relies on undisclosed patents, and undisclosed or incomplete licensing terms that make any independent reimplementation impossible or heavily risky. It obliges implementors to reverse-engineer the behavior of old closed Microsoft applications and formats. It uses non-standard formats for languages and dates, and specifies known bugs, such as treating 1900 as a leap year.



FFII Office Berlin
Malmöer Str. 6
D-10439 Berlin
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Email: office (at) ffii.org

About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.