updated 04:00 pm EDT, Wed May 21, 2008
MS Office Supports ODF
Microsoft today broke from its tradition of primarily endorsing in-house formats by revealing that it will add support to Office for a number of universal standards outside of its own. Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will support the Open Document Format (ODF) touted by OpenOffice, Sun's StarOffice, and other third-party tools as well as similarly universal document types such as PDF 1.5 and PDF/A. The upgrade will let users both open and create files in the formats without requiring either a plugin or an outside utility to convert the formats.
Owners of Office XP and 2003 will receive continued help through a jointly-developed SourceForge project that translates between Microsoft's Open XML format and ODF. The company's own XML Paper Specification (XPS) will also be supported natively in newer versions of Office, the company says. No mention has been made as to whether Office for Mac 2008 also receives the ODF support.
The company further plans to become an "active participant" in the development of ODF and PDF in addition to collaborating with others to advance its Open XML and XPS standards in the larger community.
The combined efforts are described as part of Microsoft's larger movement towards free APIs, which the company instituted to make its formats more transparent and accessible to competing developers and the public. Most industry observers believe the movement and the associated creation of the Document Interoperability Initiative to be reactions to the European Commission's $1.4 billion fine levied against Microsoft for its alleged failure to give adequate access to its formats to competitors.