updated 08:10 am EDT, Thu July 6, 2006
MS plans ODF converter
Microsoft has announced a new project dubbed "Open XML Translator," which will allow the company to continue the efforts to create their Open XML format, while supporting the OpenDocument Format by providing Microsoft Office users with a conversion tool. In response to government requests for interoperability, the company said it will release the translator as a plug-in for several older and the latest Microsoft Office versions. "We believe that Open XML meets the needs of millions of organizations for a new approach to file formats, so we are sharing it with the industry by submitting it, with others, to become a worldwide standard," said Jean Paoli, general manager of interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft. Microsoft brought Open XML to Mac earlier this year.
Microsoft has made interoperability a key focus for their next release of Office (2007) that will include support for PDF, Open XML formats, and OpenDocument formats. There are further plans to allow updates as formats change in the industry to maintain interoperability.
"Electronic document translation between different fixed formats is always going to be somewhat inexact. Like human language translations, concepts and specifications will differ in detail." explained Andrew Hopkirk, director of the U.K.'s National Computing Centre's e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF). He goes on to explain that Microsoft is promising such precision that if it were to meet its potential it will be a great achievement, "As the UK's e-GIF Accreditation Authority and leading IT user membership organization, the National Computing Centre is very pleased to see that Microsoft's interoperability commitments are bearing fruit in this vital area and we congratulate them for that."
Microsoft has said that it will release a prototype version of the translator today on the open source web center SourceForge. Microsoft was dealt a setback after OpenDocument was approved by the International Organization for Standardization, who stated that they are not likely to adopt Microsoft's Open XML.