the LYNCH report

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An Open Letter to the Standards Council of Canada re: MS, OOXML vs ODF…

with 3 comments

See the UPDATE (or see the Comments section):

Sent Tuesday, March 25, 2008:

ATTN: Standards Council of Canada.

Dear Sirs and Mesdames,

It’s with considerable interest that I’ve been following developments (such as is possible, given the meetings are behind closed doors with a media gag…) of the above referenced Technical Committee, to which Canada, as I understand it, is one of the 40 participating countries. Lately, things appear to be getting increasingly interesting.

Most notable is my concern with the influence being exerted by Microsoft Corporation in attempting to persuade member countries to adopt the OOXML language in favour of the truly open and free ODF format.

Microsoft, as you are no doubt acutely aware, has repeatedly been found guilty of engaging in monopolistic trade practises, and has a long history of leveraging their dubious monopoly in operating systems against any potential competitors. They’ve used (or rather abused) the standards process in the past to create a monopoly in other products. A good example of this would be their W3C non-complaint web browsing software, Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer, as I’m sure you’re also aware, does not fully comply with web standards such as HTML 4.01, CSS Level 1, XML 1.0 and DOM Level 1. Nor does it conform to CSS Level 2 or DOM Level 2, and it also does not support XHTML. However due to Internet Explorer’s widespread adoption (itself the subject of anti-trust litigation), web page designers are forced to write non-compliant code in order to accommodate Microsoft’s product or risk the failure of their web sites to render properly on the majority of their site’s visitors’ browsers. That’s simply one example. Most recent in Microsoft’s long history of litigation and fines is the fine of 899 million euros levied by the European Commission this past February – this for failure to comply with the requirements of an anti-trust ruling dating back to 2004!

My point is simply this: you are my (and the rest of Canada’s citizens’) representative at the ISO bargaining table, and having watched Microsoft’s strong arm tactics succeed so easily and often in the past, I implore you to steer the noble course of truly free and open standards. The vote you will cast has some very significant ramifications for the degree of open competition we’ll see over the course of the next decade, and will further impact the speed with which we reach convergence and true compatibility – only then will competition in technology and software truly blossom. Want to stimulate business in Canada? How about plotting a course whereby companies will not be required to spend thousands of dollars in order to simply share documents? While you’re sitting across the table from the Microsoft representatives in their no-doubt crisp new suits, as they assure you (and the press, media gag notwithstanding) that “98% of issues with OOXML are resolved”, remember that Al Capone also wore fine suits. He too hit his competitors about the head with baseball bats.

In the interests of full disclosure, I own no shares of any technology/software company, nor do I work for or receive any compensation from any tech/software company, monetarily or otherwise. I’m just another in a sea of faceless people whose interests you represent and who wants to be proud his government made the right, open, and free decision. I look forward to raising a toast of fine Canadian beer to the courage of your resolve to make that most open and free choice.

Most sincerely,

Martin Lynch

Written by westcoastsuccess

March 25, 2008 at 2:57 am

3 Responses

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  1. ***UDPATE***

    Sent March 25, 2008:

    Dear Mr. Hopkinson,

    My most sincere thanks for your prompt reply, but more particularly for the stance you and your team have taken. I’ll be raising that fine Canadian beer now…

    Best regards,

    Martin Lynch

    ———————–
    John Hopkinson wrote:

    Dear Mr. Lynch,

    Your message was passed to me to respond to. I am the Chair of the
    Canadian JTC 1 Committee and Head of the Canadian Delegation to JTC 1.
    As such I was HoD for the 29500 Ballot Resolution Meeting.

    I am very well aware of the situation you describe and the pressures
    that are being applied, having been subject to much of it myself.

    I can tell you that Canada has maintained its No vote on this ballot. I
    can not tell you the final outcome as the results are not yet in. I can
    however, assure you that Canada has made sure that, whatever the result,
    Canada will be int he best position that is possible having achieved as
    much as we could at the BRM in the time available.

    We appreciate you interest.

    Best regards,

    John Hopkinson
    Chair CAC-JTC1/TCIT

    westcoastsuccess

    March 25, 2008 at 3:10 pm

  2. That’s great news! Thanks for posting your letter and Mr Hopkinson’s reply.

    Anthony

    March 26, 2008 at 4:28 pm

  3. Glad you liked it, Anthony – I was quite impressed with Mr. Hopkinson’s reply and very pleased Canada did the right thing despite all the pressures to do otherwise!

    westcoastsuccess

    March 27, 2008 at 6:31 pm


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