Standards NZ asks Microsoft staffer to 'rectify' statements

Organisation stands by OOXML advisory group member Matthew Holloway

Standards New Zealand has asked a Microsoft employee to rectify statements made in an email to the Trinidad & Tobago Computing Society about New Zealand OOXML advisor Matthew Holloway.

The emails were sent as standards organisations around the world engage in sometimes heated debate over whether Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) file format should be accepted as a standard alongside the Open Document Format.

The New Zealand Open Source Society yesterday posted an email on its website, in slightly censored form, from Standards NZ chief operating officer Grant Thomas to an unnamed Microsoft employee.

Thomas says, in his response, that an email from the Microsoft employee to the Trinidad & Tobago Computing Society suggests Holloway is "far from objective”, that his goal “has always been to de-rail OOXML rather than making it a better specification” and that this “has clouded a lot of his thinking”.

"Whilst you are entitled to your opinions, we do not share them," Thomas writes.

"We are most concerned about your statement that 'while his efforts have been appreciated by the Standards NZ people on the OOXML advisory group his attitude and disingenuous approach (especially with regard to reaching outside NZ to stir things up) have not gone down well.'"

Thomas says Standards NZ has asked advisory group members to ensure when expressing their personal opinions on OOXML that it is clear these are personal opinions.

"Your statements imply that you are relaying the views of Standards New Zealand and we ask you rectify this misrepresentation immediately," he writes. "We have found Matthew to be an extremely valuable member of our advisory group and believe that he has acted with integrity as an advisory group member."

Microsoft's representative on the group, director of innovation Brett Roberts, says the email was sent by a person "offshore".

Roberts says there has been a good robust debate about the proposed OOXML standard. Sometimes it has veered off-topic, but Standards New Zelaand has run a good process and done a good job of bringing it back on track.

Thomas says Standards NZ wants to be clear that it thinks Holloway is an "incredibly valuable" member of the group and was acting with integrity.

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