The process which led to Norway’s Yes vote on OOXML was so surrealistic that it deserves to be recorded for posterity. Here’s my version of the story. It is not impartial. I was the Chairman of the Norwegian mirror committee for SC34 (K185) for 13 years until resigning a couple of weeks ago in protest against Standard Norway’s decision to vote Yes. On the other hand, I was present throughout the whole process and have more first-hand knowledge of what went on than anyone (excepting two employees of Standard Norway). Here I describe the fateful meeting on Friday March 28.
It is so important that we now publish our notes about what really happened. Not only in Norway but in standard committees worldwide. So many untold stories are out there. Stories which explain the outrage. Stories we shared with our peers but not the general public. It is a whole mess made out of international standardisation but that does not mean we should'nt feel entertained.
…at this point, the “rules” were changed. The VP asserted that “Ecma has clearly made steps in the right direction.” The most important thing now was to ensure that OOXML came under ISO’s control so that it could be “further improved”. However, the committee was not allowed to discuss this.
The VP thereupon declared that there was no consensus, so the decision would be taken by Standard Norway.
Halfway through the proceedings, a committee member had asked for (and received) assurance that the Chairman would take part in the final decision, as he had for the DIS vote back in August. It now transpired that the BRM participants had also been invited to stay behind. 23 people were therefore dismissed and we were down to seven. In addition to Standard Norway’s three, there were four “experts”: Microsoft Norway’s chief lobbyist, a guy from StatoilHydro (national oil company; big MS Office user), a K185 old-timer, and me. In one fell swoop the balance of forces had changed from 80/20 to 50/50 and the remaining experts discussed back and forth for 20 minutes or so without reaching any agreement.
The VP thereupon declared that there was still no consensus, so the decision would be taken by Standard Norway.
The experts were dismissed and the VP asked the opinion of the Secretary (who said “Yes”) and the JTC1 rep (who said “No”).
The VP thereupon declared that there was still no consensus, so the decision would be taken by him.
And his decision was to vote Yes.
To overcome a potential bias of that story about what really happened you can find the other side of the story in Stephen McGibbon's Blog: Norway and Germany, There Are No Irregularities. Ironically the Microsoft employee posted it 1st of April.
ISO spokesperson Roger Frost was quoted by the NYTimes:
Mr. Frost …upon investigation considered the Norwegian dispute to be an internal matter. “We have received background information from them and have no reason to question the validity of their vote,” Mr. Frost said.