updated 01:05 am EST, Wed December 6, 2006
Office 2007 XML support
Microsoft today confirmed that it will provide file-format converters for the Office for Mac, but said that there would be a delay in providing these to users. In response to some alarmist stories, published early Tuesday, the company confirmed that it would offer free, downloadable file format converters that allow users to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format. However, the company says that users will be able to obtain free beta converters in Spring of 2007--about 3-4 months after the initial shipments of the new Office 2007; the Mac BU blog says that final versions will ship about 6-8 weeks after the next version of Office for the Mac (expected until Fall of 2007).
"We're working on our file format converters as I write. We had to wait until Office 2007 bits and the new file format itself were locked down," the company wrote in its blog. "During this time, we spent the last year and a half prepping and planning for our own development of file format converters for Office for Mac. This included the basic supporting work of a rich and compatible XML parser, code to understand the new package structure, and beginning work on reading and writing early development versions of the file format."
The company reaffirmed that it is working on the next Intel-native version of the Office, which will ship 6-8 months after Office 2007 for Windows ships in January. It recommends that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a "Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document" (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms.