Bizarre: FFII award for OOXML opponents goes to Microsoft

Oct 04, 2007

The Kayak Prize 2007, awarded by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) for the most effective campaign against Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) as a standard, went to Microsoft itself.

Microsoft had submitted its internal OOXML format in December 2006 for ISO standardization. The non-profit organization FFII declared the event a "war of formats". The foundation spearheaded the anti-OOXML lobby and took a stand with its own "NoOOXML" website. As a part of the publicity campaign FFII offered an award for the best campaign leader in the fight against the Microsoft format. Now the FFII has given the prize to its opponent, Microsoft, stating that the company had played the biggest part in ensuring that the ISO vote went against Microsoft because it failed to achieve a majority in the first round of voting.

The statement by FFII President Peter Hintjes isn't exactly flattering: "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." He continued, "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 foundation explains that its own activities were far cheaper; in fact, the domain cost them just twelve euros. If Microsoft doesn't want to collect the prize of 2500 euros, minus the twelve for the domain, at the awards ceremony, the money will go to earthquake relief in Peru.

In February 2008, the results of the first vote will be discussed by the ISO committee, and Microsoft will have a chance to improve its document format. Mario Wendt, Interoperability Architect with Microsoft, speaking in an interview with Linux Magazine, said that he was optimistic, and that suggestions by ISO members on the Microsoft format will lead to success in the long-term: "We are confident that we will be able to integrate them with the standard to the satisfaction of our customers and competitors". In contrast to Microsoft, FFII does not believe that the Redmond standard will make the grade: " We think they (Microsoft) 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."

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