Day 3 of the OFE conference

Rumours from the BRM are emerging. Many countries have a head of delegation plus a technical expert or two. In order to speak the head of delegation must raise a flag. A large number of heads of delegation are Microsoft employees, with a technical expert for ‘balance’ who isn’t allowed to speak until permitted to do so by their Microsoft minder. Some countries are represented by people who are not even of the expected nationality. My understanding is that the Côte d’Ivoire head of delegation is from Microsoft Sénégal. To be fair there are several IBM employees in the BRM, but Microsoft have a small army including many of the all-important heads of delegation.

The delegates to the BRM don’t have a vote on the final outcome of this debacle. (although they have been meta-voting on proposals about how they should vote on  the undiscussed issues in order to produce a text for the big vote.) They will be simply be reporting back to their national bodies on the proceedings of the BRM. The national bodies then get 30 days in which to change their vote.

Microsoft have a tradition of issuing a spoiler press release every time someone else has a major conference. Normally this consists of an announcement of an empty promise, like the annual Lotusphere spoiler and the press release last week which was rubbished by everyone.

In the event Microsoft did get their wish of headlines, but it cost them a bit more than normal, the European Union just fined them €899,000,000. There were representatives of the EU at the conference, the best thing the EU could do to encourage free and fair competition is to stop sending documents in .doc format and start sending .odt files. If they did that then Microsoft would have ODF support in the next service pack.

Expect Microsoft reps to be clocking up some serious air miles in the next few weeks as they fly round the world doing top level schmoozing. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if in the next few weeks they announce some new regional offices with a few thousand jobs in some curious parts of the world.

If you represent a government which wants to make a purchase from Microsoft, now is the time to do it. Of course your country would be better off just telling them where to shove their defective software and monopolistic business practices.

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