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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Microsoft gets behind Open Document Format, Office update in 2009

Microsoft announced it would put its full support and weight behind the OASIS Open Document Format (ODF) version 1.1 support, adding it to Microsoft Office 2007 with the upcoming service pack 2 due out in 2009. Open XML will also be integrated in the coming weeks.

Microsoft has released a developer's guide on how to implement ODF and Open XML via interoperability with Microsoft and other products. They will also be "an active participant in the evolution of ODF, Open XML, XML Paper Specification and PDF standards." They further state having "already made contributions to ODF in OASIS and is actively participating in the maintenance of Open XML in ISO/IEC."

Microsoft does caveat their full acceptance of the standards body governing ODF, however. They state, "1) When implementing a standard, an implementer may find the text ambiguous or more permissive than is appropriate for that particular implementation," and "2) File format standards typically allow additional application-specific information (such as certain user customizations) to be written to the file," and "3) With every application there may be instances where an implementer cannot follow the standard exactly for one reason or another. For example, general industry practice may differ from what is in the specification or users may have made clear that they need something different," according to the press release. This means Microsoft may still introduce Microsoft-specific variations to the ODF standard, being the bane of the open standards idea.

Information about Document Interoperability Initiative (DII) is available at the website. Microsoft has also given a Q&A interview with Doug Mahugh. And Microsoft's own support for interoperability can be found here.

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