I just got off the phone to a member of the Cyprus Organisation for Standardisation. He was very helpful and knew of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML vote. He explained the process of deciding, which boiled down to the following:
- An email is sent out to many governmental, semigovernmental and academic organisations, as well as private companies.
- This email contains summary details of the standard under review (like the title and a summary of what it is about).
- If the organisation in question shows interest in the standard, they are sent the standard for review.
- The governmental, semigovernmental and academic organisations, by and large, gave no feedback at all.
- The feedback from the private companies was positive. The only negaitve feedback was from IBM Cyprus.
- He read out a list of companies that responded positively. They were mostly local development outfits, but the list also included Microsoft.
- He said that in the absence of any significant negative feedback, the vote of the Cyprus Organisation for Standardisation defaulted to an Approval.
Now, most software development companies here in Cyprus are pretty small fry: Microsoft-only shops who write POS or stocktaking applications using Access, maybe a few resellers and customisers of larger products like SAP and CA. I would be extremely suprised if any of them had the technical expertise to evaluate a complicated 6000-page standard like ISO/IEC DIS 29500 OOXML. I asked if he thought that any of them had actually read the standard, and he said "it would probably be difficult for them".
Now, I don't want to sound accusatory, because the person I spoke to was very helpful, but given that most countries convened entire technical committees to evaluate the standard for months, it seems a little amiss that we would simply default to a Yes because several small-fry Microsoft-aligned companies said "We think it's a good idea".