Sunday, July 13, 2008

OOXML - Vote of India

OOXML (Office Open XML) is a format for office from Microsoft. Microsoft sent this to ISO for making it as ISO Standard. It was done in fast tracking standardization.

In August/September 2007, majority of the countries rejected OOXML as ISO Standard. India is one of the countries which opposed OOXML. In March/April 2008, ISO asked all the countries whether they would reconsider that decision. India did not reconsider it's decision, and still opposed OOXML. But, few other countries changed their decision, and OOXML was approved as ISO Standard.

After that, India, Venezuela, Brazil, and South Africa filed appeals against OOXML, and ISO has put OOXML's Standard on hold.

When I first heard that, India opposed standardization of OOXML, I was little surprised. (I agree that Microsoft does not pay bribes, eventhough we can do many things by paying bribes in India.) The main reason for my surprise was the reputation that Bill Gates had in India. According to the protocol, a Chief Minister should go to airport to receive a Prime Minister, President of India, or PM/President of an important Country. If Governor of the state is going to/coming from foreign trip, then also CM should go to airport. In other cases, he should not go to airport to receive/send off anyone. But, one Chief Minister went to airport to receive Bill Gates, and he said he went out of the friendship. If we have politicians like them, what is the problem. Without even asking, they would sanction everything that Microsoft asks.

But, I was completely wrong. I did not know that, the committee to decide these things was formed by the professors of IITs, IISc, and few other organizations similar to that. Most of the professors in IITs, and IISc can easily get ten times to their present salaries. But, still, they stayed in those institutes to help the research and society. So, when they decide anything for India, I am sure, it would be in the interest of India, and not anything else.

After reading Prof.Deepak Phatak's article on OOXML, I learned many things about OOXML and the issues with it. It is a very long post.

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the Indian National Body (NB) representing India as a participating member of ISO. LITD 15 committee of the BIS is responsible for examining this standard and for deciding India’s position at ISO. The committee has 22 members.

The members of the LITD 15 are
1. National Informatics Centre, New Delhi (NIC)
2. Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Mumbai (CDAC)
3. Computer Society of India, New Delhi (CSI)
4. E Governance division of DIT, New Delhi (DIT)
5. IBM India Pvt Ltd., New Delhi (IBM)
6. Institute of Electronic Governance, Hyderabad (IEG)
7. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA)
8. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISC)
9. Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi (IIT Delhi)
10. Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai (IIT Bombay)
11. Infosys Technologies Ltd., Bangalore (INFOSYS)
12. Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata (ISI)
13. Manufacturers Association for Information Technology, Delhi (MAIT)
14. Microsoft Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon (MICROSOFT)
15. National Association of Software & Service Co., New Delhi (NASSCOM)
16. National Institute of Smart Governance, Hyderabad (NISG)
17. Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai (RBI)
18. Redhat India Pvt Ltd., New Delhi (REDHAT)
19. Standardization Testing and Quality Certification, New Delhi (STQC)
20. Sun Microsystems India pvt ltd, New Delhi (SUN)
21. Tata Consultancy Services, Gurgaon (TCS)
22. WIPRO Infotech, Bangalore (WIPRO)

The committee came up with 82 comments, and In august 2007, the committee unanimously agreed that, once all the comments are resolved, they would approve for ISO standard. In March 2007, ISO asked all the countries whether they would like to change their decision. But, the comments raised by India were not resolved. On 20th March, the committee met once again, and exactly 5 members told to change the vote. No prizes for guessing. They are Microsoft, Infosys, TCS, WIPRO, and NASSCOM. India did not change it's decision, and it registered disapproved vote.

Around the same time, Microsoft gave complaints to Ministry of Indian Government, and accused few organizations in the committee including IIT Bombay and professors of IITB saying that they are not acting in the national interests of India. Prof. Deepak Phatak was very angry for that, and he explained everything about all the incidents in that blog.

He wrote a hypothetical counter complaint on Microsoft in "ANNEXURE A", and it is very interesting and funny.

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