Just how did Microsoft get OOXML support in Eastern Europe?

OOXML's standardization backed in the Balkans

After the International Organization for Standardization voted to reject Microsoft's Office Open XML document format as a standard, the detailed results from ISO member countries give us a lot of material to analyze.

Votes from South-eastern Europe and former Yugoslavia countries showed Microsoft's domination of that market, and especially good connections with authorities because most of the national standardization bodies voted "Yes with no comments".

Romania and Bulgaria, members of European Union, together with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, gave a green light for Microsoft's format, with comments from Bulgaria. In this story, we take a look at the decision processes and reactions in those countries.

CSI: Croatia

A deeper look in the Croatian case starts on its national standardization body Web site.

Even a couple of weeks after the "fast track" voting process began, the Croatian Standards Institute (CSI) did not publish any press release or any other form of announcement related to the Croatian Yes on OOXML.

CSI is a public, independent, nonprofit organization founded by the Croatian government, financed from the state budget, and partly by membership fees from its members on a yearly basis. But it is still unclear why CSI kept it's decisions away from country's general public.

Behavior like this meant that everyone interested in this issue in Croatia had to become informed about the result from outside the country. As we can read on his blog, one of the Croatian Free Software community members tried to reach CSI to find out who is participating in CSI's IT technical board, and the votes of every board member. In response, CSI stated that it "guarantees security and secrecy of personal information and obligates that they will not be provided to third parties."

CSI also told the Linux user, "The only data available to the public on CSI's Web site is elated to the president and secretary of technical board. Information about voting process and technical board are not available to the public".

CSI is a public institution. However, information about votes of board members are hidden from Croatian citizens.

However, the Croatian government does recommend the already standardized OpenDocument Format (ODF) for government information systems. A few months before the OOXML procedure, the office for development of governmental information systems, "E-Croatia", made a recommendation for ODF and PDF as document formats.

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Ivan Jelic

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