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Did Microsoft Attack IBM by Proxy to Restrain OOXML Critics?

Posted in Bill Gates, Formats, IBM, ISO, Open XML, OpenDocument, SCO, Standard at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watch the evidence, but pass your own judgment

Just days after accusations had been made against IBM and a ban put in place, IBM was cleared of all charges and the ban was lifted. The Register was quick with its report and so was The Inquirer.

It’s not entirely clear what the EPA ban was for in the first place, but IBM said in a statement that it would continuing to cooperate with the EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which served grand jury subpoenas in search of documents and testimony relating to the contract. So apparently, they don’t know what’s going on either then.

The news about the ban came at a hugely interesting time. It came almost at the same time that ISO’s outrageous sellout was declared (OOXML approved). In fact, just two days beforehand (on March 31st to be precise), the following article was just one among many that got published to severely damage IBM’s reputation:

IBM blackballed in US federal ambush

IBM learned of its temporary banishment through a third-party source last Friday. Upon looking at the US General Services Administration website, the company found it was on the excluded parties list, along with minimal information.

“Prior to learning of the temporary suspension on March 28, 2008, IBM was not aware that the EPA or US Attorney’s office were considering any action against IBM,” the company said today.

Remember Dennis Byron, formerly an 'analyst' at the Microsoft-funded IDC, who several weeks ago wrongly accused IBM of corruption related to government procurement and document formats [1, 2, 3, 4]? Andy Updegrove promptly contradicted his libelous claims and did so completely, but those false claims had already entered relevant news feeds about document formats. Byron also denied knowing who I am, despite sending me E-mails in the past, which is suspicious in its own right. We have seen cases of manufactured consent before [1, 2] and who could ever forget Microsoft’s own words, such as:

“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model…”

Microsoft, internal document

If you trawled around Microsoft blogs and various pro-Microsoft ‘talking heads’ at that time of ISO’s announcement and immediate backlash, you’d see statements like “it only comes to show that IBM does this too.” This was said in reference to the baseless smears above, which are no longer substantiated. When and where have seen this before? Have a look right here. Microsoft used a journalist whom it invited to Redmond. He spread the anti-IBM smear, which went a very long way (including Slashdot, not just Microsoft’s many blogs). Microsoft is well aware of its own crimes, so it resorts to accusing others, as in “let’s call it even.” Did it fabricate allegations? This time it’s difficult to tell. This was seen as definite in the past, but this time around we only have suspicion and isolated bits of supporting evidence. Of course, it could all just be a series of coincidences, so we mustn’t rule that possibility out. But let us explore a little further.

“Microsoft is well aware of its own crimes, so it resorts to accusing others, as in “let’s call it even.””As you can trivially find in the latest news, the whole accusation turns out to be some kind of a horrible mistake that no-one understands (total bafflement) and it’s worth stressing that the timing was interesting — almost as interesting as those responses from Microsoft apologists who defended Microsoft’s actions by wrongly accusing IBM.

Linking to this to-be expired article from Associated Press, Pamela Jones from Groklaw added the following remark at the time (on March 31st): “You don’t suppose some Microsoft proxy filed a complaint??”

Coming from someone who has ‘religiously’ covered the “SCO versus IBM” saga for over 4 years (and, moreover, turned out to be right despite opposition from all directions), this remark should not be immediately dismissed or overlooked. Pamela has earned her hugely high credibility and in fact only days ago she proved yet again that more of her insights were correct all along, more specifically in relation to OLPC and Intel’s sabotage of this charity. To be specific, 3 days ago she put the following text in News Picks, linking to a this article I had sent her.

“The Eee PC’s success wasn’t possible without Intel’s support. The chip maker was initially hesitant to embrace Asustek’s push into low-cost laptops for fear it would drive down margins for its mobile processors if users opted to buy low-cost laptops instead of more powerful — and more expensive — models. But Intel eventually decided that the opportunity to expand the size of the overall laptop market outweighed the risks of lower profit margins, and gave its backing to the little laptops.”

[PJ: I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. All you folks who flamed me for saying Intel was involved with Asus can now send me emails of apology. Chocolate would be nice too. It would show sincerity, don't you think?]

Back to IBM, there is some more evidence here which could — just could — suggest Microsoft involvement in this latest debacle. Maybe it prodded someone to file a complaint just shortly before the big volcano over ISO finally erupted.

In particular, given recent precedence, it’s clear that Microsoft’s role should at least raise some healthily-restrained dosage of suspicion. Only months ago we saw the following eye-opening incident, which was described as a possible proxy war waged between Microsoft and IBM:

Read these articles again and become as shocked as Brian Proffitt to find a reality of legal proxy wars. We covered several more such examples in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Some of them include IBM, but they are barely visible in the 'mainstream press' (with the Gates-Murdoch filter applied to it).

It must never be forgotten that Microsoft was behind a very large investment in SCO and more recently suspicions were raised due to Bill Gates’ connection with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Al Saud, who was going to inject some more money into SCO (via an obscure American venture capitalist who needed this loan). Later came all sorts of cover-ups and lies, which perhaps made those involved panic, then walking away, as reported just 2-3 days ago in the press. There will always be the suspicion that Microsoft was at least partly responsible for SCO’s demise, no matter the context or event. How deep does all of this dishonesty run?

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  1. Dennis Byron said,

    April 5, 2008 at 6:26 am


    The writer of this blog post is intentionally lying about me, Dennis Byron. I have never read his blog posts but readers should assume that he is lying about everything else he posts as well.

    For the record, I never accused IBM/Cognos of corrupt practices. The Boston Globe did. And it didn’t have anything to do with document formats. If he or someone else has an issue with that post they are welcome to comment on my blog.

    Second, until March 17 when the author of this blog post first lied about me (to the best of my knowledge it was the first time), I had never heard of Boycott Novell. I subsequently searched comments on my various blog sites and found nothing from this author or anything to do with Boycott Novell.

    Now that he says above that it was an email exchange between us (which does not seem to mention Boycott Novell but his emails are pretty long and incoherent so it might be there), I now know what he was talking about. Since the author chooses to make personal communications public, the situation was as follows.

    1. In September 2007, the author “attacked” IDC and Heather Bellini on Savio Rodrigues’ blog, something he seems to do all the time (to the absurd level that he attacks me and I haven’t worked at IDC for some time).
    2. I asked the author by email to send me examples of when and where IDC had done the dastardly deeds he accused it of. Using that information, I said, I would be happy to analyze them and explain to him why he was incorrect in his accusations.
    3. His email response was: “Placements that I had in mind do not come from analysts, but from various journalists and lobbying arms such as ComptTIA and ACT…”

    When challenged personally to back up his outrageous lies about analysts, he cannot. I didn’t mean analysts, he says, I meant journalists. Ok, I am writing to you now as a journalist, give me some examples of journalistic malfeasance and I will analyze those examples. Why do I have a feeling he will change his tune for the fourth time.

    There is much more to the email exchange to which he is referring. Now that I have found out what he talking about, I will post the email exchange in full on my web site.

    Dennis Byron

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 5, 2008 at 6:40 am


    For the record, I never accused IBM/Cognos of corrupt practices. The Boston Globe did. And it didn’t have anything to do with document formats.

    Here is the response from Andy to what you wrote:

    Having reread your post after reading your comment above, I see that the problem is that on a fair reading, you are (perhaps accidentally) conflating two events from two different periods of time in a way that, to me, reads as if they are directly connected. As I read it, it sounds as if you are saying that IBM stacked a committee that was directly involved with ODF, and that this influenced the outcome on ODF. Neither of these statements would be true, based upon what I have seen (including a full response from the Information and Technology Division under the Massachusetts equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request for all ODF-related materials from 2004 through 2007, and many interviews with many of those most concerned, including in the Auditors office). Moreover, one thing that angered Senator Pacheco and some others was that in their view the ITD had not involved the technology task force at all.

    I have not personally looked into any events in 2002-3, and therefore have no basis to comment on re quibble with any statements relating to the Globe article.
    That said, I do not recall anyone mentioning those events in 2005 (that includes people I talked to at Microsoft, people in the ITD, and other interested parties). I have not gone back to reread it since it was issued, but I do not recall that its conclusions and recommendations were based upon any such connection. In any event, however, that report was not only advisory in nature, but was delivered a year after the legislative actions (and inaction) in question.

    “So to summarize, my concerns would be addressed if your article stated that there was an event in 2002-03, and another event in 2005-07, each of which involved interaction between powerful vendors and Massachusetts government, but not suggesting that IBM engineered the ITD’s decision to adopt ODF, which I do not believe is supportable by the facts.

    Source: http://consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20080319171133815

    My views about particular groups of analysts remain unchanged. This is not government-funded academia and few analysts work without incentives from companies. IDC happens to be one of the more aggressive examples. See some among many examples where even disclosures get removed to please the paying customer (Microsoft). This is not acceptable and it continues to this date.

    I apologise for being unable to approach this more gently than I have.

  3. Dave said,

    April 5, 2008 at 7:16 am


    Dennis, I guess Microsoft was right about the bit where analysts can get prickly when they are seen to be selling out. If you want to make a living defending Microsoft, you are going to have to grow a thicker skin.

  4. Victor Soliz said,

    April 5, 2008 at 10:08 am


    The writer of this blog post is intentionally lying about me, Dennis Byron. I have never read his blog posts but readers should assume that he is lying about everything else he posts as well.

    That’s not exactly the best example on damage control. Looks like you are just rushing to try to disqualify the blogger rather than fight the statements.

    I actually wish most of the things said in this site were a lie, unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

  5. Rascalson said,

    April 7, 2008 at 9:05 pm


    I agree. Very weak damage control from the MS press.

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