back to article OOXML approved as international standard?

Microsoft looks almost certain to have got its Office Open XML (OOXML) file format passed as an international standard but the ballot has been tarnished by accusations of voting irregularities. There’s no official word as yet from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), the body responsible for overseeing the ballot, …

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Disgusting

What else should we really have expected from this bunch? Par for the course with them.

"All standards are equal...but some are more equal than others."

I hope the EU does something to investigate these blatantly corrupt dealings. This should be criminal. Being British I had registered my objections to the BSI, along with many others. Not sure that made any difference at all.

Personally speaking, if the ISO does go ahead with this rubber stamping, I'd not piss on them if they were on fire.

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Paris Hilton

Devalued

When will Microshite learn that it cant bully people into voluntarily adopting a standard.

It's a short term gain, long term increased hate for Microcunts. If anything, aside from a few imminent victories on the whole "standards compatibility" blurb that they can use for promotion, all this serves to do is devalue the other ISO standards, and cast doubt on it's ability to independently regulate and do a good job.

It's like at the OSCARs when the judges start getting sent champagne-baskets and free holiday trips by the production companies. D Value.

Paris because, ?, she, has a nice ass.

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The only fit announcement ...

will be to declare the vote VOID and to introduce a high profile investigation of its methodology.

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Black Helicopters

Why the delay?

The delegates seem to be able to add up the votes and there is not that many of them, so why the silence from the ISO?

Could it be that they've heard that the process might be a touch flawed? Time for a review perhaps?

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Unhappy

Who was overseeing the voting process?

Robert Mugabe?

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The BSI

I am outraged at the BSI's rumoured change of stance. Hopefully this is just rumour. Otherwise we need to be told why (apart from loads of MS cash).

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OOXML patented

How many implementations of OOXML are there - 1

How many implementations of OOXML are there that Microsoft will not sue for patent infringements - 1

How many implementations of OOXML will there be in 10 years time - 1

The standard is simply Microsoft Office ....

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Joke

Competing standards are great for the community

Make some more in the interest of consumer choice. Some European power-companies could e.g. make their own standard to deliver electricity at 440V/100Hz and market it as "double excitement at twice the speed".

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Alert

if or when....

... this gets through as a standard, i will very quick to look at the responsibilities of an ISO standard. I will pester the BSI when MS fail to release interoperability data. I will pester BSI when this standard is the basis of a patent lawsuit.

In fact if this comes to pass and it down to the BSI (at least for us UK poeple) i intend to remind the BSI at EVERY point, they made it a standard and therefore they have to explain when it does not act like one!!

I emailed the BSI the other day regarding the news of the change of heart and they sent me a very off hand email in response which amounted to "we're the standards body, not you, go away"

Is nothing immune from coruption anymore.

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Coat

@Finnbar

Damn it, you got in there before I could add my Zimbabwe reference. That'll learn me to go viewing houses when important Register articles are coming out.

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Huh?

I'm really not trying to start a flame war, but what is actually wrong with Microsoft's spec? Is it just that the ODF got there first?

And not being funny guys, but people (in particular OSS fanatics) are contstantly going on about Microsoft and lack of standards. MS get approval of a new standard by the International community, and now your slating the standards procedure.

How about you make up your mind?

is it really any wonder MS have always just made up their own standards when this is the grief they get after trying to do it the "propper" way.

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Flame

Corruption?

Next time you see BBC coverage of Robert Mugabe stealing an election just be thankful that we live in a modern, ethical, democratic and meritocratic society...

... scratch that. We're f*cked.

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Black Helicopters

@ By jeremy

Is nothing immune from coruption anymore.

Nope!!

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Unhappy

@Steven Hewitt: What's wrong with it?

Here's a partial list:

- Features in the spec which are not documented.

- Features in the spec which cannot reasonably be implemented by anoyone except MS.

- Standard features in the spec implemented in non-standard ways (drawings, country codes, etc.) or ways that are intentionally broken (dates).

- 6000 pages of spec in a "fast track" process.

- Thousands of unresolved technical questions about the spec.

- MS's "Open Specification Promise" worded narrowly enough to exclude all meaningful competition.

- Egregious abuse of the voting process (Norway: 5 for, 19 against. Result - "Yes" vote). At least 5 national ISO bodies under investigation for irregularities.

Plus, of course, as you say, ODF was there first. ISO rules mandate that there should be one standard in a particular application area, and that new ideas should be added to that standard rather than spawning a new one.

Who do I need to write to at ISO to get this process stopped until a full investigation has been conducted?

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jai
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re: @ By jeremy

Cadbury's Cream Eggs - they're immune from coruption

but anything else is fair game these days

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Compliance

Frankly, it doesn't particularly matter whether or not this standard goes onto the ISO book or not. In software, it is implementations which matter, not standards. This is behind the RFC approach: the barrier for establishing a standard is low (IP by carrier pigeon anybody?), and it is only the ones in wide implementation which matter.

Ultimately the test is interoperability, not an ISO stamp. If the only implementations which can interpret the legacy binary formats come from MS, well I don't think that matters. If a future version of MS Word writes out documents which don't work in other compliant (apart from legacy binary) implementations, that is a big deal. But at that point, because it is a published standard, it can easily be proven one way or another that "you don't comply with your own standard".

Yes, the shenanigans around the voting process stink. We will never get the GBP to be interested in that however. Today I'm far more interested in the voting in Zimbabwe, where vote rigging could result in either the continuation of a despicable regime or in civil war - either way, a genuine life or death matter.

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Gates Halo

Does it matter?

As long as a standard is defined and everybody then conforms to it, why the hell does it matter who defined it? Everybody will still have access to the specifications and it is then up to them to make sure it is compliant

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Boffin

@Steven Hewitt

What's wrong with OOXML? Well here's a taster for you.

http://www.robweir.com/blog/2008/03/disharmony-of-ooxml.html

and scroll down a bit to the table that shows how to colour red or right-align stuff. It's just a small sample. If you want a more technical overview then go here

http://www.noooxml.org/open:rejectooxmlnow

or here

http://www.odfalliance.org/blog/index.php/site/top_10_worst_responses/

Basically, no one can implement an unimplementable standard. No one is even sure if Microsoft can implement this stuff.....

How bad does it have to be? There's nothing wrong with the idea of OOXML per se, but it needs a lot more work to actually be *fit* to be a standard.

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Anonymous Coward

@Steven Hewittt

"I'm really not trying to start a flame war, but what is actually wrong with Microsoft's spec"

Maybe the highly detailed technical explanations contained in it such as "Handle this behavior like Word 97" with no sub explanation how Word 97 handled it. How can people create interoperable software with something as vague as that?

E-Petition anyone?

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Hmmm

I can't help but wonder if the vote had gone the other way, with the same allegations of corruption, whether people would have still been saying the same things, or whether it would have been a case of "Microsoft are just trying to cover things up, of course the vote was fair and they can't hack it. Linus Torvalds is my god." or something similar. It seems nobody is quite able to incite such pathological hatred as MS.

Besides, everybody knows that Linus Torvalds was the lovechild of Bill Gates... Linux was just his way of rebelling against his father.

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Dead Vulture

Standards (there can be only one!)

[I'm really not trying to start a flame war, but what is actually wrong with Microsoft's spec? Is it just that the ODF got there first?]

If you read the technical overviews that abound on the 'net, you'll see that the spec itself is a 6000 page document, that when analysed deeply shows flaws, and self inconsistencies. There are areas of it that simply state that to implement some part of it, you'll need to use a 'black box' that is a trade secret.

The opinion of some minds that are far better attuned to this than mine have stated that trying to implement the "standard", unless you want to pay large money to MS for the rights to peruse it's 'trade secret' source, is not possible. And when you do, the license it's released under is incompatible with many Open Source licenses (especially GPL).

So, you have a 'standard' that isn't a standard, and can only be built if you pay MS. And implicitly can't be implemented in a fully open environment, which coincidentally is Microsoft's competition these days.

Competing fully working standards.. Still doesn't work too well (hey, what voltage would you like to run your mains on out of 5 competing standards? Or which side of the road would you like to drive on in the UK out of two competing standards?).

The idea of a 'Standard' is one that everyone uses as a baseline. You can have your own proprietary formats too.. Nothing is stopping you doing that (so, office can keep using OOXML, but it'll just be a proprietary format, which is what it will remain anyway, despite being called a 'standard').

But, if everyone maintains a compatibility with the fully open Standard, then everything can talk to everything else. Having TWO is wasted effort and development time.

The dead bird icon, as it's looking as healthy as the reputation of the ISO at the moment.

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Unhappy

Disappointing

We need a Robert Mugabe icon for this sort of event :(

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Far too flawed

Steven, if you haven't been following this from early on you might not know this, but the proposed standard (8000 pages long) produced about 3000 comments and criticism - and that's after they eliminated the duplicates. That's a deeply flawed standard. Many of these comments were not addressed - not surprising given the size of the standard, the number of flaws and the fact that they wanted to fast-track it.. they didn't have enough time. So what's happening right now is that the standard will be passed with fingers crossed in the hope that these flaws will somehow get resolved.

That's apart from the fact that we will now have two different and incompatible standards. Kinda like having two entirely different HTMLs, two different types of wall socket (and voltage/frequency), two different and unconnected telephone networks, etc. The proper way to handle any new requirements for Microsoft software to use ODF would be to simply add them to ODF itself, producing a new version of the ODF standard - after all MS is a board member of the Oasis foundation which is responsible for it.

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Tom
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Make them have it BIG TIME!

The best thing that could come out of this is for governments to insist that all documents and software conform to either ODF or OOXML.

That way ODF will become the effective standard as M$ software cannot meet the OOXML specs itself.

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Such a precious word this "open"

All that Microsoft wants is the word "open" for a standrd that will never become an open standard.

I Norway they pushed the no sayers out, in Finland they pushed the yes sayers from outside in.

What a farce.

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Black Helicopters

Just because its true doesn't mean it isn't a lie.

@Jai - Obviously you haven't heard about the recall in Canada then.

Remember folks, if you don't like the way a vote went, start that mud a flying! People hardly ever care if its justified, just so long as its a good show!

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Anonymous Coward

@ Steven Hewitt

"I'm really not trying to start a flame war, but what is actually wrong with Microsoft's spec? Is it just that the ODF got there first?"

I don't know where you've been over the last few weeks, but the deficiencies of OOXML are well and truly covered:

(1) It's miles from being usable (hint: MS *itself* has admitted that it won't really implement it)

(2) It breaks ISO rules on having proprietary elements

(3) It only got approved due to substantial vote rigging.

The latter is the main point. What Microsoft has done to a technical-only body is to break the tentative agreements that live between the rules and abuse the process for what it's worth. The main issues is that their actions have caused substantial harm to the voting process overall, and teh standing of ISO adn an independent body. In short, Microsoft has shown how easy it is to buy votes, even when the topic at hand is so deficient it's even to non-techs evident just how broken it is.

All that whilst ODF is already out there and could be amended under accepted process - but that's the problem. Microsoft does not WANT a fully open standard so it had to rig the process for all it was worth, covering ISO delegates in shame.

So f*ck MS. I use Firefox, Thunderbird and Ubuntu, and the last Windows system (this one) will soon be no longer used, nor will any of my companies be allowed to use any new software made by MS (that's a ban we've had in place for a few months already). I'll even be tipping off FAST to force an audit - I will enjoy abusing that little club of leeches as well.

(yes, I'm angry - I hope the EU will find enough to start another investigation).

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Pirate

Contact ISO

ISO have some webforms e.g. <http://www.iso.org/iso/support/contact_iso/contact_for_iso_partners_2.htm> but perhaps the Fax Machine in Geneva might be the easiest? Fax +41 22 733 34 30

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BSI Vote

Wonder if anyone's actually got an answer to explain why the BSI changed it's mind given the statement:

"It identified a number of technical issues in the document which need to be addressed before the UK can approve ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML as an International Standard. "

And, as far as I know, those change haven't been made...

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Er, surely...

The answer's simple.

Just don't use the fuc*king thing.

After all, (IIUC) Tosh's HD-DVD format's a 'standard'. It's bolloxed now, but still a standard.

Once more government depts. realise the Mugabe-style election process, it's history. Just a way to kill more trees with a worthless spec.

RIP, OOXML. Take Microsoft with you on the way out.

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Tom
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So ISO is the new "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval"

Just something you buy.

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Unhappy

Reminds me of RTF

I remember trying to use Word OLE Automation, which was so buggy, I abandoned it in favour of generating RTF. Then I found out that RTF is just an alternate format for Word documents. The keywords describing a table or run-time fields were named but not its behaviour. The documentation didn't state the field name for today's date, let alone the options for formatting it. The documentation only properly specified character and line formatting. Anything more sophisticated required reverse engineering how Word saved it.

The OOXML documentation is a big steaming, worthless pile? Normal practice.

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Pirate

Hidden agenda?

MS may also have a hidden agenda. Their main competitor in the office space is open-source. They can discredit open solutions by my making a mockery of the standards process. Good open standards are essential to any FOSS work.

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Boffin

@Hmmm

"It seems nobody is quite able to incite such pathological hatred as MS."

Because they abuse us, insult our intelligence, etc., etc, etc.,and there's not much we can do about it.

Seems obvious to me!

However, the vast majority don't actually know this. So M$ will prevail!

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By the way

It doesn't actually matter whether OOXML is a pile of SH1T or not, or whether M$ can implement it or not, they don't now have any obligation to implement ODF.

Ergo, MS can continue as they were.

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Dead Vulture

ISO! It's Something Obvious!

Anyone whose putting any weight behind an ISO standard is getting what they paid for. I worked for a major manufacturing firm that went through ISO9000 and 9001 audit at the same time that "Dilbert's" company did. (Seriously, the comics came out almost in parallel with developments where I worked!) We were on respirators from the laughter. I watched several boxes of non-compliant documentation "disappear" and magically reappear at the hands of an administrator who was almost as adept a magician as Bullwinkle. It was just as big a joke for us as it was for Dilbert and Wally.

If your hanging your hat on an ISO standard this bird's for you!

(p.s. How many Yale History degrees does it take to pay for an affirmative ISO vote?)

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Stop

Standard MS bribery

This sounds like the standard MS bribery techniques...

I wonder how many members of the national standards bodies recently got whisked off to plush hotels, foreign resorts and other such "hard to track" machinations of bribery.

They do it with regional councils in the UK - I've experienced and witnessed it first hand, so why not the BSI as well?

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Black Helicopters

The funniest part of it...

...is that Microsoft has no product that supports OOXML, not in the first version and not in the current version (adjusted by ECMA).

There are currently two products that supports OOXML: NeoOffice (OpenOffice for Mac OS X) and IBM's Symphony.

morale: don't buy MS products if ypu want to use MS OOXML standard...

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Re: OOXML patented

Actually:

Number of OOXML implementations: 0

MS haven't even agreed to follow the OSI standard in any future version and even where they imply it, they say they reserve the right to change the implementation at any time and that their pledge not to sue does not automatically follow.

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@Steven Hewittt

Bullet points for you:

a) MSOOXML is deliberately named to confuse the trade mark of Open Office.

b) the proposed standard uses unavailable technology (MS's VML)

c) the proposed standard standardises a bug (1900 is NOT a leap year, MS)

d) the fast track is for de facto standards that have been tested in the heat of the marketplace, there is NO MSOOXML standard out there

e) it isn't XML: the namespaces cross over and some elements are modal (meaning one thing in one application and another in a different application, even though they use the same XML namespace)

f) RAND without ND patent "I promise not to sue as long as you're 100% compliant but still not using the stuff we haven't specified (which is required to become 100% compliant)"

g) if it was a standard, why did MS stuff the ballots with MS MVP's?

h) if it was a standard, why did MS take over the voting chair?

i) if it was a standard, why isn't MS using it?

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Stop

I wrote to the EU and ot the BSI

I wrote to the EU and to the BSI.

The EU actually sent me a letter back, it wasn't a form letter even, it was written to me (spelling mistakes and all :)

They are looking at this issue was all they said. It's not a lot but at least they replied, now the twats at the BSI simply sent me a form reply advising me to look at their website. Yet another bunch of idiots who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. A bunch of self serving parasitic wankers.

I would write to my MP, Nick Raynsford, but he hasn't yet managed to get up to speed on these computer thingeys. Not sure where to put the coal in, bless. That and the fact he's so far up Gordon Browns rearmost orifice means I'd waste a sheet of A4, an envelope, a stamp and the shoe leather to post it.

I suppose we could simply ignore OOXML, since it's unimplementable anyway it's not going to be a big problem. OOXML is just another so-called MS standard. MS can claim it's open but we all know thats rubbish. I'll stick with my Mac and Open Office on both the PC and the Mac.The next version of Office may have it, I'm still using Office 2000 so it's not a big deal anyway.

Will the last one out of the BSI remember to bank the cheque from MS and switch the lights out!

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Boffin

IP by carrier pigeon anybody?

Please see RFC 1149 :-

http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1149.txt

Geoff

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MS hatred and why

"It seems nobody is quite able to incite such pathological hatred as MS."

Because thanks to Microsoft, the I.T. industry is a disgrace.

Average computer users have the expectation that their PC won't work properly most of the time. We don't take that sort of nonsense from our cars, or TV, or refrigerator, yet it's considered normal for a computer to be unreliable.

That's wrong, and it's largely Microsoft which set that particular standard.

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Stop

@Standards rooked?

You are wrong. Microsoft had was NOT excluded from ODF, except by their own actions/choice.

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A case of sour grapes and just MS bashing - Grow up.

First of all I see most of the comments are just about bashing MS, just for the sake of bashing.

Well think carefully - why was the ODF first created and rushed through? To drive a wedge against MS Office. So the motive for ODF itself is founded on ulterior considerations, and never out of any great altruism to promote openness.

And who are the vendors who pushed ODF - all of MS's competitors which lost the battle. And how do they fight the competition, not by offering compelling end user experience, but by playing dirty tricks like going crying to courts. Now that they have found US courts not that favorable, they go to the next place - EU to sue MS. And EU has a bunch of sour grapes, they jeel jealous about US corporations, that are successful. With all of those losers still loudly wailing here, in the end success is determined by the consumers and market which see compelling value in Microsoft products - so cry all you can, nothing can alter that. If you want to compete, compete by delivering compelling end user experiences like MS or Apple.

And why should ODF be the only standard - is there any god given rule for that. What is wrong with another standard. Let these standards play themselves out in the market - or are people frightened of competition. Are'n there multiple standards in other areas of engineering across the globel. How about just electricity the basic commodity - the world operates on atleast two set of standards.

I see most of the comments are from outside the US, who just make use of every oportunity to bash an american corporation.

And lastly if some one here has long memory the ODF itself was aggressively lobbied and pushed through rapidly so as to put a blocker on Microsoft's Office products, without actually having the strongest player in the market on documentation products having a meaningful say in it. So past mistakes of ODF cannot be swept under. The true test of standards is Openness and interoperability and I for one have not found a vendor so strongly promoting openness and interoperability as MS does.

Do any of you know that MS systems can interoperate and work with Linux, Sun-Solaris, Novell, and a host of other systems and their protocol stack is open to other developers.

So before you go crying and wailing just a tirade of ignorant CRAP about MS, get your facts straight.

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My BS detector has exploded.

OFFS! This is the same BS that Microsoft pulled when Toshiba needed votes in the DVD forum to get HD-DVD ratified.

Microsoft have a terrible reputation and it appears that with the departure of the Gates, their reputation is headed further and faster into the sewer system than ever before. It's like the slide to the dark side of the force. I picture Microsoft operatives talking to Shouting Steve and the conversation going something like this.

"My lord, the forces of open-ness are advancing before us. They control the vote, they control the standard."

"Yessss. I have foreseen it, all is going according to my plan."

"B...b..but my lord, the vote goes against us."

"Does it? Does it really? Contact our reserve delegates, and transmit the key code phrase - 'money for nothing', using the emergency band. It is time."

"M...m...money for.....?"

"Just do it! Or face my wrath! With my force powers I could use my voice to crack your eardrums, or hurl that chair with a mere flick of my wrist. Do you dare defy me? Begone, and do my bidding!"

"Yes my Lord Steve. I do thy bidding, of course. Excuse your humble servant."

"I said, begone!"

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vulnerabilities

shame, I don't have any knowledge of exploiting vulnerabilities.

I'm sure OOXML would provide a hobby for life...........

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Anonymous Coward

ISO ISO a good spanking

What's all this allegation about Mugabe when postal voting in UK is officially snafu and HMG has said officially its going to do sweet FA about it - not open season for racism by any chance?

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