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OpenXML & ODF was never a zero-sum game

ODF - Office 2007 SP2I've lost count of how many times I've said this, and how many times when I've been told that Microsoft would never implement ODF I've replied with a "why not?" or "never say never". So I will enjoy watching reactions to the announcement that:-

The 2007 Microsoft Office system already provides support for 20 different document formats within Microsoft Office Word, Office Excel and Office PowerPoint. With the release of Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) scheduled for the first half of 2009, the list will grow to include support for XML Paper Specification (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1.


In addition, Microsoft has defined a road map for its implementation of the newly ratified International Standard ISO/IEC 29500 (Office Open XML). IS29500, which was approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in March, is already substantially supported in Office 2007, and the company plans to update that support in the next major version release of the Microsoft Office system, code-named “Office 14.”

On the one hand, Office 2007 SP2 will include OASIS ODF 1.1 support, Microsoft will join the OASIS ODF Technical Committee, and users will be able to set ODF to be the default format in the same way they would for other Word, Excel or PowerPoint.

On the other hand, Office 14 will incorporate the BRM changes to OpenXML adopted as part of IS29500.

Customers get both. Customers get increased choice, including both PDF and XPS support.

Doug Mahugh explains that in addition:-

"We anticipate that some developers may want to take over the default ODF load and save paths, so that they can plug in their own translators for ODF, and we'll be providing an API in SP2 that enables this scenario. This means that if a developer disagrees with the details of our approach and would like to implement ODF for Office in a different way, they're free to do so and can set it up such that when a user opens an ODT attached to an email or from their desktop, it will be loaded through their ODF code path."

and he's posted a screen shot from a pre-release copy of Office 2007 SP2  which shows the file save dialogue

ODF - Office 2007 SP2 - File save

IBM's Ed Brill notes that

... at some point in 2009, it looks like customers will really get to a point of choice and flexibility -- with Microsoft as a leader.

and PSC's John Head is quoted in the press release saying

I am very pleased that Microsoft is enabling Microsoft Office to support ODF directly from the software. This will allow us to develop solutions that create documents that can be edited by any user, regardless of what software or operating system they use. In a world where software companies want people to select one software package for their entire user base, the reality is that different user groups and types need options. Microsoft is now enabling users to make that choice. This is a very smart move by Microsoft, and one that lets the most important person — the customer — be the winner.

It never was a zero sum game - it was always about customers winning.


John Head said:

It takes something major for Microsoft to want to put me in one of their press releases :-)

Seriously, as a Notes, IBM, and Lotus Symphony guy .. this is great for the customer. That isn't a marketing crafted quote - I wrote that myself.

# May 21, 2008 9:33 PM

Stephen McGibbon said:

As you say John, customers win!

# May 21, 2008 11:37 PM

Simon Phipps said:

Congratulations on this development, Stephen - always knew you would!  Welcome to the ODF family.

# May 22, 2008 4:01 AM

Wayne said:

The choice argument is a two edged sword. For an example (and this is true) I have suppliers who work in metric, and suppliers that work in Imperial. The Metric and Imperial parts are VERY close in dimensions. They are however different enough that when building precision parts the differences can cause problems.

We have 2 major vendors in the USA, 4 major vendors in Europe, and 3 major vendors in Japan of the same basic component, which is good. There's enough competition that the pieces are reasonably priced. But the US built parts aren't built to the same specification as the Japanese and European built parts, and aren't directly interchangeable, though they are interchangeable in gross.

Needless to say each vendor has their good points, and we use most of them depending upon the situation. Our customers don't notice the difference, but it's a pain in the backside for engineering and production.

And you think increased choice is a good thing? Think again.


PS: There's also 4 vendors in China, but we don't talk about them.

# May 22, 2008 5:17 AM

Teknologiasta ja vähän muustakin said:

Microsoft on myöhään viime yönä julkistanut muutaman asian liittyen eri dokumenttiformaatteihin ja niiden

# May 22, 2008 6:32 AM

Weblogul lui Zoli said:

Formatele de documente ODF 1.1 (utilizate în OpenOffice sau Symphony) vor fi suportate (read-write) în

# May 22, 2008 8:55 AM

Stephen McGibbon said:

Thanks Simon. I see a Sun comment on the news here

Microsoft embraces ODF -- What does Sun have to say about it?

as well as on your blog too of course.

# May 22, 2008 9:08 PM

Stephen McGibbon said:

Wayne what are the parts? I think multiple competing standards are generally a good thing, and I think it's a big mistake to not account for opportunities software offers over hardware.

Noone is forcing choice on you, and I am sure that if you ever have it removed you'll want it back pronto.

# May 22, 2008 9:17 PM

Pranav ... Blogging said:

Did’ya see dat! I am pretty exited about these developments , As soon as these this is out I want to

# May 23, 2008 5:07 PM