Expanding Support for Formats in 2007 Microsoft Office: Enabling Choice, Opportunity, and Interoperability

Overview

In response to requests from customers and developers, Microsoft announced on May 21, 2008, a number of significant steps related to document formats:

  • Microsoft will add support in 2007 Microsoft Office for Open Document Format (ODF) 1.1, as well as additional document formats.
  • Microsoft employees will participate in technical committees of international standards organizations responsible for the maintenance, evolution, and interoperability of various document formats.
  • And Microsoft will participate in industry organizations to better understand the needs of customers and developers and collaborate on ways to meet those needs.

These steps are designed to increase choice for users and opportunities for developers (including competitors and members of open source communities), foster increased interoperability among different document formats, and focus industry efforts on solving actual world interoperability needs of public and private sector customers.

Microsoft Increases Support for Multiple Document Formats

  • 2007 Microsoft Office originally supported 20 different formats and demonstrated that multiple document format standards can exist side by side. With the release of 2007 Microsoft Office Service Pack 2 (expected in the first half of 2009), Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will support Open Document Format (ODF) 1.1, Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A, and XML Paper Specification (XPS). Users will be able to open, edit, and save documents in the format of their choice. So for example they will be able to open, edit, and save documents in ODF from directly within the application without having to install any other code, as well as to choose ODF as their default file format.
  • Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment that in the next version of 2007 Microsoft Office, it will update the already substantial support it provides for IS29500, the Open XML specification that was recently approved by ISO/IEC members.
  • Microsoft will continue to support the open source software development of translator technology that enables Open XML-ODF conversions in previous versions of Microsoft Office, including Office XP and 2003.
  • Microsoft will also continue to sponsor the open source development of translator technology that enables interoperability between Open XML and UOF, the Chinese national file format standard.
  • These steps are in addition to Microsoft’s previous commitment to provide new application protocol interfaces (APIs) in 2007 Microsoft Office Service Pack 2 that will allow developers to plug in other formats so they show up on the drop down menu and can be selected as the default formats by users.

Microsoft Expands Participation in Standards Organizations

  • Maintaining and evolving document formats are necessary if they are to be responsive to the changing needs of customers. Consistent with Microsoft’s recently announced Interoperability Principles, in which we commit to working with others to achieve robust, consistent, and interoperable implementations across a broad range of widely deployed products, we will increase participation in standards activities.
  • Microsoft and employees will join and serve on technical committees dedicated to maintaining Open XML, ODF, and PDF.
  • We will also serve on technical committees responsible for furthering interoperability among document formats.

Microsoft Deepens Collaborations to Solve Real Interoperability Needs

  • Customers care above all else about real-world interoperability between various document format implementations. So, consistent with Microsoft’s Interoperability Principles, Microsoft is taking a number of steps to work collaboratively with customers and other vendors, including competitors and open source communities, to achieve this objective.
  • We are promoting, through the Document Interoperability Initiative, a community dialog about which document interoperability scenarios are most important to customers and how to solve them. We hope that private and public sector customers and a wide range of format implementers take part in these efforts.
  • We are continuing to work within the Interop Vendor Alliance and participate in other document-related interop activities that the vendor community believes are important.
  • We will continue to be guided by our Interoperability Executive Customer Council and other customer voices about how to support particular document formats and to achieve interoperability between our implementations and other widely deployed implementations.

Recent Actions Demonstrate Microsoft’s Ongoing Commitment to Choice, Opportunity, and Interoperability

The steps laid out in this announcement continue the commitment of Microsoft during the past few years to expand choice in the marketplace and create opportunities for developers and competitors, including open source communities. They also reflect the conclusions that can be drawn from the recently concluded Open XML standardization process: Countries around the world supported flexibility and choice as principles that best meet the varied needs of customers, that there should be technological neutrality, and that one technology or standard should not be mandated as the sole or even preferred solution.

Enriching choices for customers creates opportunities for other developers to bring fresh innovations to market and thus support the economic growth of the local IT industry. Microsoft is committed to continuing to work in an open, collaborative, and respectful manner with standards bodies, customers, and the industry, including competitors and open source communities, to enhance interoperability and innovation.