Microsoft’s Behavior in OOXML Proceedings to Undergo Investigation by EU Commission

Feb 11, 2008

The EU Commission is looking to investigate whether Microsoft illegally attempted to influence the standardization process for its own OOXML document format.

Prior to the vote by the ISO standardization authority in the fall of 2007 various irregularities were observed (and reported by Linux Magazine). In the months leading up to the vote, Microsoft resellers and other allies of the corporation joined the ranks of some committees eligible to vote. In Italy, for example, the voting committee grew from four to 85 members in a short time. In Portugal, twelve new members joined the committee shortly before the vote. The Wall Street Journal monitored the process very closely at the time, now the magazine reports that the EU Commission will be investigating the procedure in the near future. According to "well-informed circles" the regulatory authority will be investigating whether ob Microsoft illegally attempted to influence national committees during the voting phase of the ISO standardization process.

The investigation will be part of newly launched anti-trust action by the EU Commission concerning Microsoft’s behavior towards competitors. The EU regulators will be investigating the integration of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser in its Office and Windows products, and attempting to ascertain the extent to which Microsoft products support interoperability with third-party products. The incidents leading up to the ISO standardization vote will be the third area of interaction between the software giant and its competitors that the regulators will be looking into.

Despite the lobbying, Microsoft’s document format failed to take the first vote on the ISO organization’s fast track. Following the vote, national standardization committees have submitted over 3,500 comments on the file format which the software company can evaluate for remedial action. The ECMA proposals have been available for commenting since mid-January; voting members will decide on OOXML standardization, ISO/IEC DIS 29500, at the end of February.

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