There is no question that all over the world the competing interests in the Open XML standardization process are going to use all tactics available to them within the rules. - Microsoft's Director of Corporate Standards Jason MatusowWell, you have to hand it to Microsoft. They are nothing if not thorough, and leave as little to chance as possible. Previous reports from all over have indicated sudden, surprising surges of membership in National Body voting committees in multiple countries throughout the world (most recently in Sweden), and I have reported recently (here and here) that there has been a sudden surge of interest among ISO members in upgrading their privileges to "P" status, which will entitle to them (just in time) to a more influential vote on OOXML When I first noted that I had heard concerns over upgrading at the global vote level,. only two nations had upgraded. When I wrote about it the second time, that number had risen to six. It's now only a few days later, and the number has risen to nine (bear in mind that the original number was only thirty). And there are still a few days left during which stealth countries, their votes already taken, can make the cut. Where will it all end? [Updated 8/29: The number is now forty - the most recent addition is Malta.] [Updated: the number is now forty-one - Cote e'Ivoire is the latest addition. And see this blog entry for additional implicationss]
Perhaps it already has. Why? Because Microsoft is keeping close tabs on how every already-qualified member is likely to vote. They therefore know how many additional countries may be needed in the "yes" column in order to get the level of approval they want - but no one else does. And, of course, no one knows which countries may yet jump out of the box, nor did anyone know which ones just did in time to present any evidence in addition to that which, how to say delicately, other parties may have made available to those casting their votes.
As someone who has spent a great part of my life working to support open standards over the past 20 years, I have to say that this is the most egregious, and far-reaching, example of playing the system to the advantage of a single company that I have ever seen. Breathtaking, in fact. That's assuming, of course, that I am right in supposing that all of these newbie countries vote "yes."
I guess we'll just have to wait and see a few more days to learn whether that assumption is true. Want to place your bets?
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Below if the current roster of "P" countries. Those marked with an asterisks are the recent upgrades.
USA (ANSI) [Secretariat]
Czech Republic (CNI)
Iran, Islamic Republic of (ISIRI)
Korea, Republic of (KATS)
New Zealand (SNZ)
Saudi Arabia (SASO)
Singapore (SPRING SG)
South Africa (SABS)
***Trinidad and Tobago (TTBS)
United Kingdom (BSI)