At the time GCC's support was confusing and no company had the time and money to support a member at committee meetings.
The biggest problem at the time was RMS's position: GCC was supposed to be GNU C Compiler - and all other frontends were second-class citizens. Including C++. State-of-the-art GCC (the venerable 188.8.131.52) had awful C++ support and few developers used it as C++-compiler-of-choice. Eventually EGCS split happened, C++ support was improved to the point that now GCC is one of the C++ compilers - but all this happened after standard was finished. Today WG pays very serious attention to GCC: if some feature is flat-out rejected by GCC team it'll need A LOT OF supporters to be even considered. Thankfully GCC too pays close attention to what WG is doing so it's not a problem.
To WG difference between free compiler and proprietary one is NOT important. Difference between obscure and popular one is. As GCC's C++ compiler moved from obscurity to the compiler-of-choice it importance to WG moved similarly...
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