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Microsoft

Office 2003 and XML 626

zachlipton writes "Internet World is reporting that initial reports from Office 2003 beta testers don't look good for those hoping to share documents with non-MS systems using the XML file format. Gary Edwards, the OpenOffice.org representative for the OASIS XML file-format group is quoted as saying "although it's still early in the review process, it does look as though XP XML has been so seriously crippled as to be useless to anyone but the big content management and collaboration system providers." Apparently, all formatting and presentation information is removed from the XML. Furthermore, Office's new collaboration featres will only work with users who are also running Office 2003 (requiring Windows 2000 or 2003) that are connecting over XP servers." So Microsoft will continue its efforts to lock-in users with proprietary formats, and hopefully the rest of the world will produce an XML standard document format without them.
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Office 2003 and XML

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  • Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by McDutchie ( 151611 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:48AM (#5503836) Homepage
    Well, it friggin' figgers, doesn't it? Anyone who didn't see this coming must have been living on another planet.

    With the US antitrust suits off now, the EU is our only hope to curb their anticompetitive practices.
    • Re:Duh. (Score:2, Informative)

      by dubious9 ( 580994 )
      Well, I believe this is the best thing that we could have hoped for coming from Microsoft. Even a division between content and format will allow data to be transferred more easily from one format to another.

      You could have the same xml content file to outputting to pdf, rtf, postscript, and any number of other formats. Separating data from format is one of the strengths of xml. This is much better than straight binary format or (ugh) RTF. Separating data and format is a good thing.

      You don't keep xml
      • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Funny)

        by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:12PM (#5505300) Homepage
        Separating data from format is one of the strengths of xml.

        Also, of the comma-delimited file.
    • Re:Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by t0ny ( 590331 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:18PM (#5504184)
      How do you figure this is anti-trust? This is simply a company who has the dominant product protecting their lead. And quite honestly, I dont see anything wrong with that, as long as they confine their practices to their product (ie. they arent making Office the only suite that can run on windows)

      Have you ever played a game like Civilization or Alpha Centari? You would be amazed at how much those games make you understand politics. Once you are in the lead, you do anything you can to protect that lead. And why would you expect the real world to be any different?

      But this isnt a game, this is business. And since businesses are SUPPOSED to make money, they need to make sure people continue to buy MS Office. And making an office suite that shares documents with all the various third-tier office suites just doesnt do that. Why should my company buy MS Office if the documents it produces are exactly the same as those of FreeBeerOffice? Now, if FBO cannot do things MSO can do, then there is an incentive...

      • by blahlemon ( 638963 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:47PM (#5504481)
        Truth be told the real disadvantage to this being the real world vs. a game is I can't set the level of difficulty to my liking...nor can I stop and speed up time.

        Or spy on other people from a God perspective. Damn you! Now I'll have to spend the rest of my day realizing how pathically small my scope is...

      • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jd142 ( 129673 )
        Civilization and Alpha Centari are pretty much zero sum games in practice if not in theory. Life isn't like that. Sometimes if you and your neighbor can both win and both feel like winners. As you say in your post, once you are in the lead, you have to stay in the lead.

        In the real world, once you are in the lead (say a civilization with advanced sciences and arts, bounty for all, etc) why would you work to keep other civilizations/countries down? You'd work to improve their science, their arts, their h
      • Duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tony-A ( 29931 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:58PM (#5505758)
        How do you figure this is anti-trust? Microsoft has been judged a monopolist. Since past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior, there is a presumption that this is anti-competitive behavior until proven otherwise.

        This is simply a company who has the dominant product protecting their lead.
        For a monopolist, nothing is simply any more. In the absense of market forces to correct misbehavior, exactly how they attempt to protect their lead does matter.

        And quite honestly, I dont see anything wrong with that, as long as they confine their practices to their product (ie. they arent making Office the only suite that can run on windows) [emphasis added]
        As long as nothing in the Office Suite promotes the Desktop OS monopoly.
        As long as nothing in the Desktop OS monopoly promotes their own Office Suite.

        But this isnt a game, this is business.
        And screwing your customers is bad business.
        And screwing your suppliers is bad business.
        And screwing your investors is bad business.
        And screwing your employees is bad business.
        Even screwing your competitors is bad business.

        And since businesses are SUPPOSED to make money, they need to make sure people continue to buy MS Office.
        And General Motors needs to make sure people continue to buy Chevrolets.

        And making an office suite that shares documents with all the various third-tier office suites just doesnt do that.
        It just makes incomprehensible gibberish unless the recipient happens to have the exact same sooper-dooper magic decoder ring. Unless I can read my stuff, under circumstances of my own choosing, I have a problem. Unless I can send stuff to my correspondents and they can read it un circumstances of their own choosing, I have a problem. If my documents are hostage to the whims of a supplier, I have a problem.

        Why should my company buy MS Office if the documents it produces are exactly the same as those of FreeBeerOffice?
        New twist on Clippy?
        No reason they should. That's Microsoft's problem, not yours or your company's (unless you work for Microsoft;)

      • Re:Duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zmooc ( 33175 )
        And quite honestly, I dont see anything wrong with that, as long as they confine their practices to their product (ie. they arent making Office the only suite that can run on windows)

        How is that any different? They do open up their Windows API so people can write software for it but they don't open up the document format so people can write documents for it. How is closing up windows so it can run only office any different from closing up word so it can open only office documents?

  • At some point..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:48AM (#5503837) Journal
    Microsoft will have to learn IBM's lesson about transforming from a company that makes standards, to one that contributes to them.
    They still don't get that their attempts to "embrace and extend" the whole damn internet isn't going to work.

    The rest of the world WILL produce an XML standard document format without them, thank heavens.
    • by McDutchie ( 151611 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5503866) Homepage
      he rest of the world WILL produce an XML standard document format without them, thank heavens.
      Which will be an irrelevant format because everyone will still need Word to read all the ubiquitous crippled Word XML format documents flying around on the net.
      • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:58AM (#5503974) Homepage Journal
        Word (or even complete office), Win2k/XP as desktop and server. If someone sends me a document in Office 2003 format that he say I "MUST" read, I ask him to choose between sending me US$2003 to be able to read it, or sendme it in a really open format.
        • by MeanMF ( 631837 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:18PM (#5504740) Homepage
          You could also just download the free MS Word viewer that Microsoft provides here [microsoft.com].
          • by frozenray ( 308282 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:03PM (#5505223)
            > You could also just download the free MS Word viewer that Microsoft provides here [microsoft.com]

            For those not running Windows, the Word viewer comes "free" with a $199.- (list price) version of Windows, a good sized chunk of your system disk (not that it really matters much given today's HD prices and capacities) and the usual installation hassles, like drivers for equipment which isn't included on the CD etc. Even if you got Windows "free" with your PC from the manufacturer, you just paid the Microsoft tax up front, and will continue to pay if you want to keep your system up to date.

            That's like saying the Grappa I got offered after shelling out $150.- for dinner with a date last Saturday was "free". Sure, I didn't pay for it, but you can't get it without buying dinner first.

            Yes, I know there are solutions for reading MS Office documents on Linux. But I always cringe when people tell me to use the "free" readers - they're not free in any sense of the word in my book.
          • by MrResistor ( 120588 ) <[peterahoff] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @03:17PM (#5505936) Homepage
            You could also just download the free MS Word viewer that Microsoft provides here [microsoft.com].

            Strangely, there doesn't seem to be a Linux version. Or a Mac version, either. It's not so free when I'd have to buy a copy of Windows and spend 2 hours installing it, is it?

    • by d-Orb ( 551682 )

      The rest of the world WILL produce an XML standard document format without them,

      Hmmmm... Not to be a jinx, but so far the rest of the world has not come up with a replacement for .doc which has superseded the Word format (and of course, that is widely used).
      I always thought that you could have a single computer running Word, and whenever someone sent you a Word attachment, it would go through this computer, which would run Windows+Word+Some clever script that would translate the offending file to (say)

    • The US Navy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony-A ( 29931 )
      seems to be working on it.
      Computerworld [computerworld.com]

      snips (with added emphasis)
      After studying the issue for a year, the Navy issued its formal usage policy, which Jacobs said provides comprehensive guidance on how to use existing specifications and calls for component reuse whenever possible. It also prohibits the use of proprietary extensions to industry specifications.

      "The new policy urges commands to use the specifications from the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] and other consortiums such as OASIS," said Jacob
  • by avdi ( 66548 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5503856) Homepage
    Apparently, all formatting and presentation information is removed from the XML.
    And this is bad how? Isn't this the dream that XML document proponents have aspired to for years? You just can't please some people...
    • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#5503951) Homepage Journal
      I think the point is that if you save to their XML specification, you will loose all your document formatting. So yeah, the data is there, but it can't be reopened in Office or any other word processor and be in a structured way. Essentially, it is the same as just saving as plain text which has already been available since Office 95.
      • by RobotWisdom ( 25776 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:24PM (#5504802) Homepage
        I think the point is that if you save to their XML specification, you will lose all your document formatting.

        I think the root of the confusion goes back to Golfarb's original theory for SGML-- that the styles in a document are secondary to the structures, and should be kept separate.

        This has been a religious conviction ever since, despite the fact that most authors are messy and intuitive, and SGML-etc are very, very rigid and unintuitive. The rationalisation is that messy authors can just represent their styles using 'fake' (ad hoc) XML, but if this turns out to be 90% of the real users of MS Office, then I think MS could indeed save valid XML, but it won't be portable in any useful sense.

    • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#5503957) Homepage Journal
      I have to agree. The the basic concept behind SGML and its diminutive offspring, XML, was to separate content, structure and presentation. This just means that you have to share a style sheet, FOSSI, or whatever when you share a document if you expect the person you share it with to be able to view it.

      There may be other *valid* criticisms of what Microsoft is doing but this isn't one of them.
    • by JordoCrouse ( 178999 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:58AM (#5503970) Homepage Journal
      And this is bad how? Isn't this the dream that XML document proponents have aspired to for years? You just can't please some people...

      Unfortunately, Manny Manager and Sarah Secretary are now very used to depending on the formatting and presentation information. To be honest, not too many people these days subscribe to the whole minimalist document theory (unless your idea of starting your editor is typing 'vi').

      The main point here is to encourage the .XML format for interoperability. If the XML format can't figure out the fonts, colors, and various drawing elements in your document, then people will abandon it for something that does - at the expense of the rest of us.

    • by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#5504099) Homepage

      I don't think this means that there is no stylistic information in the document, rather that the style information is contained within the proprietary code segment of the document.

      If Word documents all utilised the same style for various elements, it'd all be hunky-dory. However, users like their choice of a 50pt purple serif font for a title to stand, so the formatting information MUST be included with the document.

      Perhaps a better format would be a zipped file that contains seperate XML and XSL documents...

    • by djoham ( 93430 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:22PM (#5504228)
      This may be bad (keeping in mind the jury is still out on exactly how Microsoft is making this work) because in the case of office documents, the style is actually *part* of the content, from the perspective of Joe Office User.

      If Microsoft just puts the raw text data into a .xml file, then that .xml file is practically useless to anyone who wants to collaborate with the original author since all of the styling information is lost.

      As an example of a good way to do this (IMHO), take a look at how OpenOffice.org builds their files. When you make a .sxw (the default writer format) you're actually taking the raw data of the document, the styling rules for the document and a few other important bits and pieces and zipping them up into a single file.

      After unzipping this file, the following directory structure was exposed:

      content.xml
      META-INF/manifest.xml
      meta.xml
      mi metype
      settings.xml
      styles.xml

      With this type of design, you can get the best of both worlds. Technically, there is a separation between your presentation and content which allows simple programatic access to the data when necessary. At the same time, this design allows for full collaboration between people who also consider the styling of the data to be part of the content because the style rules for the content are included with the document.

      With xml-saved Office documents containing only data and no style, collaboration between non-office users (and apparently Win9x users as well) will be no better off than before. Perhaps worse, assuming the binary .doc, .xls etc formats have changed and will need to be reverse-engineered again.

      If this article is true and Microsoft has decided to remove the styling of their xml-saved office documents, I see two possible reasons for this:

      The first is obvious. You're not using Office? Ok, second class citizen, here's the data but in a format that is next to useless for you to use.

      The second possibility involves Microsoft just not being where they want to be with the Office XML sharing. Keep in mind that it took OpenOffice.org something like a year and half or so to define their XML interchange format. Microsoft may be going there, but due to overwhelming inertia, it just might not be going there very quickly.

      Personally, I think the first option is the most likely. However, with OpenOffice.org working with OASIS and others on a common XML interchange format, I'm hoping Microsoft will be forced by the marketplace into option 2.

      Best regards,

      David
    • This is a probably a troll, but I'll byte.

      You seem to forget that, in the context of office programs such as Word, the 'content' is the sum of 'text' + 'formatting' + 'presentation'. You need all 3, or you do not have a workable document. Having 'text' only is not enough. We are not talking about being able to read a .doc file on your scrollable cellphone screen here. We are talking about interoperability between all major office suite producers.

    • Nononono. Word is all about presentation of data. Some of the data IS the presentation. Writing, "The bullet points below" with a list of bullets below.

      Taking the presentation out of data would be like making PSD"s xml but putting the colour in some hidden away place. You'd have only the useless basics and nothign else.

      At least XLink the "presentation layer" you are imagining in, in a seperate resource file... ala XSL or SOMETHING.
  • What did you expect? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by inburito ( 89603 )
    Somebody honestly thought that Microsoft would suddenly give out their most valuable asset, the proprietary office file format, and people would be free to use whatever they want..

    Pigs will fly if that day ever comes!
  • Style Sheets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FattMattP ( 86246 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5503864) Homepage
    Apparently, all formatting and presentation information is removed from the XML.
    Good. That's the point of XML. Formatting and presentation goes in style sheets.
    • Re:Style Sheets (Score:3, Interesting)

      by danlyke ( 149938 )
      Yeah, but...

      It's unclear from the article whether that leaves the style information intact, and obviously Gary Edwards has an ax to grind, but in the systems I implement, sometimes I can't get users to adopt the use of style sheets, but I can extract the semantic information from stylistic patterns. It's not all that difficult to look at the formatting for a screenplay, for example, and pull out the meta information about what actors appear in what scenes based on the bold outdented bits.

      If I can get to t
    • Re:Style Sheets (Score:3, Informative)

      by sketerpot ( 454020 )
      If I read the article correctly (and it isn't very well written, so I could be wrong), they just take all the format and presentation information out. If you have something boldface in your document, it doesn't get noted in the XML file. However, the only real way to find out for sure just what this XML is like is to see one of the XML files---and they don't look like they're going to make it that easy.

      Anyway, Office has a ridiculously complicated format. Any XML that it generates will most likely be a nig

    • Re:Style Sheets (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:14PM (#5504145) Homepage

      The problem is that they don't include it elsewhere.. So in order to share documents in the style intended by the user, it must be saved as the proprietary format.

      IMHO, this ensures the user will opt-out of the XML format, and stay with the proprietary format. As I posted above, if Microsoft are going to do this, then they should bundle an XSL document with each XML document.

      • Save As XML = WordML (Score:5, Informative)

        by malakai ( 136531 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:46PM (#5504474) Journal
        Taken from a real review of the XML/Office features:

        Once valid, the document can be saved as XML in two ways. The default is to create
        WordML, which preserves Word's styles and formatting in an XML name-space that's separate from the one bound to the schema-controlled data. You can optionally save through an XSLT transformation which, in a publish-to-the-Web scenario, could translate WordML formatting into HTML/CSS formatting. Alternatively, if you tick the Save as Data option, you can instead save just the raw XML data. In that case, you can bind one or more XSLT stylesheets to the document, each of which can generate WordML styles and formatting.


        InternetNews is authored by morons.

        -malakai
        • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:33PM (#5504896) Homepage
          Same thing with Excel, you can save as Excel with formatting or not. This comes from the Excel XML with formatting. Quite simply the article is flamebait.

          <Style ss:ID="s26" ss:Parent="s16">
          <Borders>
          <Border ss:Position="Bottom" ss:LineStyle="Continuous" ss:Weight="1"/>
          <Border ss:Position="Top" ss:LineStyle="Continuous" ss:Weight="1"/>
          </Borders>
          <Font ss:FontName="Times New Roman" x:Family="Roman" ss:Size="12" ss:Bold="1"/>
          <NumberFormat ss:Format="_(* #,##0_);_(* \(#,##0\);_(* &quot;-&quot;??_);_(@_)"/>
          </Style>
          <Style ss:ID="s27">
          <Alignment ss:Vertical="Bottom"/>
          <Borders/>
          <Font ss:FontName="Geneva"/>
          <Interior/>
          <NumberFormat/>
          <Protection/>
          </Style>
          <Style ss:ID="s28">
          <Font ss:FontName="Geneva" ss:Size="12"/>
          <NumberFormat ss:Format="0.0"/>
          </Style>

          <Stuff in between here to get around Lameness filter>

          <Style ss:ID="s27">
          <Alignment ss:Vertical="Bottom"/>
          <Borders/>
          <Font ss:FontName="Geneva"/>
          <Interior/>
          <NumberFormat/>
          <Protection/>
          </Style>
          <Style ss:ID="s28">
          <Font ss:FontName="Geneva" ss:Size="12"/>
          <NumberFormat ss:Format="0.0"/>
          </Style>
  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:51AM (#5503874) Homepage Journal
    This isn't news really. Did anyone actually think that MS would embrace open standards to make it easier for their competition to work with their products?

    IMNSHO, I think that this will backfire eventually. Slowly but surely the world is moving more and more towards open, interoperable standards.

    I use Office 2000 and OpenOffice, and I won't be moving to Office XP or later versions anytime soon, if ever. The enviroment I work in still uses Office 97 (mostly due to budgetary constraints, though they ARE considering a move to XP sadly).

    Microsoft is at the point where they will do anything to lock in their current market share, and are trying to make it increasingly harder to move away to anything different. Once you can't share your files with any other application suite, the sheer cost of file conversion alone will keep most people from switching to other alternatives.
    • Did anyone actually think that MS would embrace open standards to make it easier for their competition to work with their products?


      Yes. Since when was XML supposed to be used for presentation data? I agree that MS should open up their API's and document formats, but I'm glad that the Office XML doesn't contain presentation data, because that IS supporting the standard properly.
    • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:43PM (#5504445) Homepage Journal
      Disclaimer: I work for one of the XML teams at Microsoft [not on Office] but this is not an official statement but my personal opinion.

      Office 11 supports a significant number of W3C XML standards including SOAP, XML, XPath, XSLT, WSDL, DOM and XSD. Don't take my word for it read Jon Udell's columns on Infoworld such as 10 Things You Need To Know About XDocs [infoworld.com] or Exploring Office 2003 [infoworld.com]. I personally was quite stunned and very pleased when I found out that the Office folks were moving from binary formats to XML which opens the doorway for producing and processing Office documents using off-the-shelf XML tools and technologies.

      The only real complaint I saw in the entire article that some tags related to presentation are stripped out when saving as XML. Specifically Jon Udell explained the differences in his blog entry [infoworld.com] where he stated
      There's been a fair amount of chatter about whether Office 2003 will "really" support XML. The answer is yes, but in two different ways. When a Word document contains schematized data, for example, and you save only the data, your XML output is pure as the driven snow


      When you elect to keep the WordML formatting information, you get a mixture of two namepaces: a WordML namespace with style and formatting information, and a data namespace (here, ns2) for schematized data. So, is this just angle-bracketed RTF? Yes. Is it "real" XML? Also, yes.
      Basically it looks like the authors of the article want to have their cake and eat it too. They somehow want to preserve all the formatting information in their documents in the XML output yet not end up with a lot of Office specific content in their documents.

      Secondly one of the primary goals of XML is the separation of presentation from content. Meaning that how an XML document is displayed to the user is unimportant (that's what stylesheets are for just look at the direction XHTML 2.0 [w3.org] is going in) and instead what is important is the data & metadata within the document. In my opinion, this actually allows people to innovate because they are not limited to a single look and feel for their documents but instead can present them in different ways for different audiences and different platforms. This was the major failing of HTML and it is sad to see people try to bring that mentality to the XML world.
      • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:15PM (#5505335)
        Basically it looks like the authors of the article want to have their cake and eat it too. They somehow want to preserve all the formatting information in their documents in the XML output yet not end up with a lot of Office specific content in their documents.

        The choices then appear to be "data only XML" or "RTF marked up XML". Is this correct?

        If so, then I think the critics are correct. The critics wish that the document can be read and manipulated by some non-Microsoft editor. I doubt this is feasible with the WordML format, aka "RTF marked up XML". I'll explain why.

        If, as you point out, a WordML document is collection of data marked up by XML tags that provide only low-level (RDF) presentation information, then it is of no use to an alternate editor implementation. An analogy would be to attempt to edit a Word .doc document after saving it as RTF. The appearance of the RTF when rendered is correct, but the data model that Word uses internally is not represented in the RTF document. This is a "one way" conversion. You can edit the RTF, but you can not reproduce the .doc file from it.

        It sounds to me like it is the same with WordML. You can read and edit WordML because it's valid XML. However, the higher level data model of Word is simply lost. No means is provided for a processor to understand the original structure of the document.

        For example, if I should create a "style" in Word and apply that style to a paragraph, the WordML output will tell me what font to use. However, the WordML file tells me nothing about the "style". So I can't tell what other paragraphs are supposed to change in sync if I change the style. I can't know the inheritance of style parameters. In short, I can't programmatically edit the Word data model.

        The hope/expectation was that the XML output would provide this information. Thus, it would be possible to essentially re-implement the Word data model and correctly manipulate Word documents. With this hope/expectation in mind, it's clear why what they have actually found is considered crippled. WordML can't be used to recreate any part of the original data model in an alternate editor. It's just data mixed up with low level markup.

        I have always thought that this expectation is niave. Microsoft protects the tools they sell by making it infeasible to create alternate implementations. Just because the tool can output XML doesn't mean that you can do without Word.

        BTW, I am by no means an expert at any of this. I'm no Office beta tester and I haven't looked at OpenOffice in months.
      • This sounds much better.

        It would be more reassuring to hear if Word can successfully read back in one of these files and the user can then continue to edit it as before, ie nothing is lost. Unless this is true then MicroSoft can easily be shown to be forcing everybody to use their proprietary format.

        This can be done with imbedded proprietary blocks if necessary but in that case it should be possible to easily strip out the proprietary blocks and Word must still read in the file correctly and it still ha

  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boss, Pointy Haired ( 537010 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#5503889)
    I mean come on; who was expecting anything different?

    When I first heard that MS Office was moving to an XML based file format, I didn't think "ooh yippy do, we'll be able to share information".

    I thought:

    <msoffice type="word">
    6647AB84B348W837G86438H5D345W34
    6647AB84B348W837G86438H5D345W34
    6647AB84B348W837G86438H5D345W34
    6647AB84B348W837G86438H5D345W34
    6647AB84B348W837G86438H5D345W34
    </msoffice>

    I was right. :)
    • Re:LOL (Score:3, Informative)

      by ender81b ( 520454 )
      You where only partially right.

      The XML file format will contain only the actual data of the document. The rest - structure and format - will be contained in a seperate proprietary file format.

      Now what MS should do, in reality, is use XML + XSL for their xml file format but they aren't. Of course I have no idea how this is supposed to be more useful than saving the file as .txt but.. it's MS.
      • Sorry, you are wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by malakai ( 136531 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:54PM (#5504546) Journal
        The XML save (default is as WordML) contains both data and all formating/styles needed to render this document without any loss. WordML is loosely based on RTF. RTF is what Word has been used as it's "properietary" standard for years (internally in memory as well as in the doc file).

        Saving as WordML give open office the ability to modify XML data and thus "modify" a legit word document. Word has no problems opening a WordML document I created by hand.

        What these morons authors are talking about in this article, is when you check off the "Save As Data" checkbox in Save as XML file dialog. Word then strips formating and tries to stick the data according to the choosen XSD (which should have been mapped to the Word elements) into an XML format. You can optionally choose to then have word run an XSL transform against the resulting data, and save _that_ to the file system.

        If these guys can't figure out how to make OpenOffice work with this WIDE FUCKING OPEN FORMAT then I certainly don't want to use their product.

        Hell, I'll write them a WordML to xsl transform for them in a day.

        -malakai
    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Funny)

      by 4r0g ( 467711 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:19PM (#5504192)
      Or did you mean:
      <msoffice type="word" encoding="evil" compression="evil-magic">
      666
      666
      666
      666
      666
      666
      666
      666
      </msoffice>
  • by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#5503903)
    Why hasn't anyone noted the obvious?

    This is a beta product.

    Until it comes this way in a final product, there's no reason to get all excited about it.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by deviator ( 92787 ) <bdpNO@SPAMamnesia.org> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:53AM (#5503906) Homepage
    I am shocked. Shocked! I'm shocked that Microsoft would do something like this that wasn't in the best interest of their customers.
  • Do Better? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:55AM (#5503929) Homepage Journal

    This is hardly surprising news.

    My question, though, is whether it is possible for other vendors and OpenOffice to create a better , more pleasing formatting and presentation of the content in the XML than Office 2003 does?

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by graphicartist82 ( 462767 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:55AM (#5503935)
    So Microsoft will continue its efforts to lock-in users with proprietary formats, and hopefully the rest of the world will produce an XML standard document format without them.

    I'm not trying to start a flame war here, but it seems that they're missing the point! We don't want it to be MS with one format and the rest of the world with another. That really wouldn't make it much different from how it is now. At least the way it is now, non-MS office software can read the MS formats. If it comes down to the choice between using the MS format or the "rest of the world" format, MS is going to win every time..
  • Or isn't this [w3.org] good enough?

    Personally, I only use a word processor to re-markup things I've written in HTML. That includes my dissertation. HTML isn't super printer friendly, but come on, we're all trying to go paperless anyway, right?
  • No good to me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 )
    The XML features they are putting into Office XP look to me as if they will only be of use in very large companies. I don't see much benefit for small or medium-sized companies. And the expense of upgrading is such that, in the current climate, I doubt many will make the move to office XP.

    Microsoft used to be able to force everyone to upgrade because if you didn't, you wouldn't be able to read documents sent to you by others. I don't think that is going to be so successful now, there's too much resistance
  • bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by graveyhead ( 210996 ) <fletch@fletchtroTIGERnics.net minus cat> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:58AM (#5503971)
    hopefully the rest of the world will produce an XML standard document format
    This is just so wrong. It smacks of a writer who doesn't really understand the utility of XML. There doesn't need to be "The One True Document Format"... that's not what XML is all about.

    Instead, create an XML format that is specific to your needs and write a DTD or XML-Schema that describes it. If you need to translate it to someone elses' XML document format, a quick XSLT stylesheet will transform the document with a minimum of effort.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • It's going to be very interesting to see how they market this incompatibility as a feature.
  • From the article:

    "The idea is for XML not to specify how the information should be processed, but rather leave that task to XSL (define) templates and other post-XML processing steps," he said. "XML is supposed to be a presentation-neutral format."

    There's nothing stoping anyone from making their own collaborative product that works with XML files. MS isn't going to do it, but that doesn't stop an open source solution.
  • by PerlPunk ( 548551 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:00PM (#5503989) Homepage Journal
    All Microsoft needs to do is make their standard an open one (that can be used by others), like Adobe has done with their PostScript and PDF formats. Adobe has done quite well with their products based on these formats, too. Products like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop (which works very well w/ bitmaps saved in PostScript) are the industry standard in digital art. If Microsoft followed a similar model, I'm sure that Microsoft Word will continue to be the industry standard in word processing software, and Microsoft as a business won't be any less richer for it.
    • And I can take that gif, jpg, psd or pdf and open it in another application, make changes, etc...

      Basically, I'm not forced to use the Adobe product.

      I'm sure that Microsoft realises this and would hate to let the users have a choice of what they can use. Why let them choose when they can almost be foreced to use the MS product.

      I dunno...maybe I've been hanging out on /. too long :)
  • To come up with a standard, or use an existing one, and write a couple of VBA macros or Add-in to import that file-format and export to it?

    Haven't looked at Word's automation API recently, but I suspect you could get a lot of the data necessary that way and export accordingly. Perhaps I'm totally off the mark...

    Looking at it now, it would probably be pretty cumbersome, but probably manageble. I'm just thinking, it would be nice if Microsoft would do it for us, but I suspect that the applications at some
  • by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:02PM (#5504014) Homepage
    Isn't part of the concept of XML relating DATA and being able to seperate presentation from pure content. Isn't the additional concept of XML it's extensibility and adaptability for one group to use it differently than another? Because if not I've been using XML wrong for about 2 years now.

    This article makes it sound as if MS is doing something completely improper with XML (i.e. changing it's "standard"). But it seems to me that MS is simply separating content from presentation and relying on ????(something proprietary, xsl, more xml) to provide presentation. Just because they don't use the standard the same way you want them to doesn't mean that they are breaking the standard. I'm sure if you look at the XML that they output it's all standard XML. It also sounds as if they are not using any of the "tricks" that others have complained about (i.e. storing binary data in an xml tag).

    Instead of bitching about the problem maybe we should
    1) provide feedback if we are a beta tester
    2) wait for it to be released
    3) ready some tools to provide interoperability
    4) work harder on creating tools better than MS
    • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:25PM (#5504258)
      Did you read the article? It's not about breaking a standard, it's about making a fucking USELESS file. If no formatting information is saved, it's no better than File->Save As Text. Clearly, separation of presentation and content is not unreasonable, and I think everybody would say they support that. But that's not what they've done. They have (at least according to the article, we won't know for sure till it's released) is eliminate the presentation data from their XML format. ELIMINATION of presentation makes the format useless for document exchange, and thus an essentially useless feature, period.
      • by malakai ( 136531 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:37PM (#5504381) Journal
        Read some other articles, or better yet get ahold of a beta and try it out. The authors of this articles will feel like schmucks when they realize what they missed.

        First off, by default, if you save the word document as XML, it gets saved as WordML,which preserves Word's styles and formatting in an XML name-space that's separate from the one bound to the schema-controlled data.

        If you check off the checkbox "Data Only" then you will lose all formating and your own XSD will be used to map this document into XML data.

        WordML looks like a XML'ified RTF language. It would be trival to create an XSL stylesheet that transforms WordML into HTML/CSS with all formating (that HTML is capable of) which directly mimics MS Word. OpenOffice could also eat WordML quite easily and have all the formating/style of Word.

        What the authors of this article are REALLY bithing at, is the fact that MS didn't buy into the OpenOffice Document Specification from OASIS. MS prolly sees OASIS as the US sees the UN. Defunct, not needed.

        If you describe your data using XML semantics, and all it takes to convert from semantic style A to B is some XSL, then who cares about forcing everyone to use one specific format.

        -malakai
  • Although a XML-MS-Word forma would make compability easier, it doesn't means that it will be compatible. MS and Mr. Bill Gates uses of many theories developed through the centuries to overcome not only enemies but everybody else. From romans to George Orwell.

    There's no to MS use a standard format when they own the standard today (MS Office files). And even if they hadn't the standart they would destroy it, just like they tried with Java and J++.

    MS still have a lot to learn (and to suffer) until it's ca

  • It is obvious that Office 2003 will not have a beautiful open standard the will interpolate with any piece of software. I find that unfortunate, but not unexpected. As the Oasis link points out, Microsoft is not really interested in letting its consumers out of the box of proprietary formats they are currently stuck in.

    The article is on the other hand very vague (probably because the information still isn't available) about what information is left in. My interest is no so much in being able to read Off
  • sometimes.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siphoncolder ( 533004 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:08PM (#5504076) Homepage
    I wonder if michael is testing us for stupidity, literacy, and actual technical knowledge of the issues.

    1) Take MS, make a report that says they did something bad, watch how many people flock to bash them DESPITE THE FACTS PRESENTED IN THE ARTICLE, which leads me to:

    2) How many people read the article? And of those people who DID, :

    3) How many of them know that XML is supposed to be a divorce of data from presentation? Why this comes as a shock to people is obvious - they didn't know that.

    The poster above who said "style sheets" - bravo. You couldn't have made a better point with two words.

    • Re:sometimes.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      You must not be familiar with the Slashot business model:

      (1) Post Inflammatory (or sometimes Blantantly Unfactual) Story on Issue X
      (2) Get lots of hits from pro and anti-Issue X people
      (3) Get lots of hits from people who waste time informing everyone how ignorant the Slashdot editors are
      (4) Profit!

      Michael and CmdrTaco specialize in these stories. See CmdrTaco's recent post about SuSE "back away from UnitedLinux" to see an excellent example of this.

      It really comes down to all they want are page hits. T
  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:10PM (#5504097) Homepage
    Many offices will soon have to upgrade their PC's and software to be able to use XP together with this new MS software. Apart from this being a Good Thing for the economy, this has another important side effect: the 2nd hand market will be flooded with PIII's and cheap Athlons. I was thinking of buying a new computer to make a nice Linux server but I guess I will wait until this new Office thing comes out.
  • by DigitalSorceress ( 156609 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:12PM (#5504130)
    I'm sort of of two minds on this -

    On one hand, there are a lot of folks who have very strong opinions about the fact that the data should be separated from presentation... If Office 2003 were to strip the MS-apps-specific formatting (which is probably NOT very standards-friendly), but leave the style markings (heading, paragraph, footnote, etc...) then really, they would be providing a semi-structured document that conformed to XML standards.

    As a web application developer/web author, there have been many times when I have been given MS Word docs and Excel spreadsheets as content for our web site... In the past, I have resorted to copying the whole page directly onto a text editor (thereby scrubbing all formatting information) and then using HTML markup to make the document look much like the Word original, but without having to deal with that rather poor HTML output the Word and Excel's Save as HTML features produced. If I could have a semi-structured document, it would have been easier to write some macros to parse the XML structure to automate some of the rough formatting (hooks for stylesheets or somesuch).

    On the other hand, it seems to me that is might be in Microsoft's best business interest (the selfish ones) to make darn sure that it's not possible for OpenOffice fully interoperate with MS Office documents. I don't think they would be very smart (current business model-wise) if their new products (which will rapidly become de-facto business standards) helped to enable Open Office standards to take away their marketshare.

    In the final analysis, I probably wouldn't worry too much until there's a critical mass of people using it. By then, a bunch of folks will have figured out what CAN be done with whatever format MS ended up with. At that point, Office 2003's XML format will probably make it possible for people to do something they couldn't do before or at least, to do something easily that once was more trouble that it was worth.

    That's worth something...
    • WordML (Score:5, Informative)

      by malakai ( 136531 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:43PM (#5504442) Journal
      If you "Save as XML" in Office 11, then by default the data is saved as WordML. WordML is an xml version of MS internal storage format (basically RTF). OpenOffice could quite easily write an interpreter for WordML. Hell, I could write an WYSIWYG editor for WordML in a day. If that. It's pretty simple if you understand the basics of RTF.

      It's only when you Save as XML with the "Data Only" checkbox that you get into striping formating (and rightly so). Word WARNS you about this. In addition, you can specify your own XSD to save to. And word will VALIDATE this for. Not to mention, you can use a word tool to map elements of Word documents to elements of your schema. DAMN COOL.

      In addition (As if that isn't enough) when you save, in either way, you have the option of specifiying a XSL style sheet. It'll go ahead and transform the output for you as part of the save.

      Then only thing the OpenOffice people are upset about is that MS didn't buy into the OASIS/OpenOffice Document Specification. Tough shit. I'll write them an XSL that'll work again WordML to solve that for them. Lazy bastards.

      -malakai
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:16PM (#5504167)
    I have Office 2003 Beta 2 freshly downloaded from MSDN. This article is completely wrong. I did the following:

    1. Opened a heavily formated .DOC Word document with tables, multiple fonts, etc.
    2. Saved the document as XML.
    3. Opened up the XML document in Word and it looks EXACTLY like the original .DOC format.

    I also opened the XML file in a text editor and sure enough it contains complete formatting information.
  • by malakai ( 136531 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:17PM (#5504178) Journal
    The point of the Office 2003 "Save as XML" with the "Data Only" checkbox is _NOT_ a poor mans Save As XHTML. It's decide to allow the data of the document and pet placed into an XML document based on a schema. You literally can make your own schema file/XSD, and use a tool inside Word to map the elements of a Word document to elements of the schema. If you simply map a paragraph to a string you will lose formating. Unless of course you define in your schema how you'd like to store formating information. But that is generally an overkill.

    Think of a resume. you could define an XSD for a resume, and be able to save resumes against this XSD, as validated pure XML.

    Now, if you want to produce a document, using an XML syntax but want to combine both data and presentation, then you want WordML.

    WordML uses Word's own tags to markup the word document. I was going to show you an example of WordML but i don't feel like escaping allt he greater-than/less-than signs. Anyhow, WordML contains all the formating and everything necessary to display a Word document as it is supposed to look.

    I think this Open Office guy is looking for a devil in Office 11 that isn't there. That or he didn't read the friggin manual.

    -Malakai
  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:20PM (#5504216)
    "has been so seriously crippled as to be useless to anyone but the big content management and collaboration system providers."

    That indicates to me that the problem is really that the document format is so complicated that it takes tremendous resources to understand and implement compatibility with it, as this implies that larger companies like say a Xerox will have no problem producing tools to work with it.

    So from a business consumer perspective this is still a tremendous win.

    This sounds like more whining from the open source crowd.
  • by Daimaou ( 97573 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:32PM (#5504330)
    Proprietary document formats were fine at one point. Most people shared documents via printed paper, or shared them via "soft copy" within their own organizations. However, the time for printed documents and interoffice "soft copies" is over. We need the ability to share documents with the world in an easy to use, feature rich, and easy to edit format. Since a significant part of a document's legibility is in its style and formatting (or at least people are more apt to read a well formatted document over one which is not) text files are out.

    Once an easy to use, open document format is created, and the ability to read and write those documents is built into many programs, I think we will see an end of .DOC file attachements.

    While there are currently some "open" formats like PDF and PS, the problem is that they are not easy to create for the average user, nor are they easy to edit. While PDF may be a good format, we need something better.

    XML is a logical choice as a base for an open format because it is a well defined standard, it is text based, and is quite easy to parse.

    But I ramble.
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:43PM (#5504447) Homepage

    Internet World is reporting that initial reports from Office 2003 beta testers don't look good for those hoping to share documents with non-MS systems using the XML file format...

    That's because XML is not a file format, it is instead a format for file formats. To quote the O'Reilly "Learning XML" book, page 2:

    Note that despite its name, XML is not itself a markup language: it's a set of rules for building markup languages.

    I've said this many times on /. (look at my history), but the fact that a particular format is XML-based says nothing of your ability to read it. I'm even going beyond the fact that Microsoft could simply stick their traditional file formats into a CDATA and claim XML compliancy.

    The statement "If Microsoft used a standard XML format for their documents then anyone could read them" makes as much sense as an equally stupid statement like "If Microsoft just used 8-bit bytes in their file formats then anyone could read them".

    Sorry to rant, but the level of cluelessness around XML is astounding. Please read up, there's a ton of useful information on XML around the internet.

    MDC

  • drm ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:38PM (#5504953) Journal
    Isn't office 2k3 suppose to support drm encryption? If so then this would make the file format useless since it will be encrypted.

    From a pure bussiness standpoint (not technical)a close proprietary file format is essential if you want consumer lock-in to keep prices sky high. If a competitor can write software that can read your files and format them proprerly then you lose your file format monopoly and would have to compete with everyone else.

  • by GreenEggsAndSpam ( 658869 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:47PM (#5505046)
    Without going into the evils of microsoft and it's office products, how there are better OS's and products out there on the market, I'd like to ask: WHY??? Office 95 to 97 was a substantial jump. 97 to 2000 was a fairly substantial jump. Stability, document abilities, general ease of use. Most people were happy with 2000. Stable, if large. 2000 to XP: Smaller install, activation / registration nightmare, some interface changes, but otherwise the application is the same. How documents are saved, their base format has been changed, yet to the end user this should be transparent. XP to 2003: What is the major differences? I mean... yes, it's going to be new, in a new year, but why would Joe Schmoe, Enterprise User (Or home user for that matter) want to shell out a couple hundred dollars per license where the increase in functionality will be limited? Increased document collaboration would be good, yes, but is it truly worth the cost? How many users don't KNOW how to use the advanced features? I work as a sysadmin at a plastics factory, and the majority of the users barely know how to use a keyboard. I've worked in an insurance company, where I had to teach the corelation between moving the mouse and the pointer on the screen moving. I've done the dot-com thing, with users wanting more but not using it properly. What are the odds that an entire company would be utilizing the software to it's fullest potential? And what percentage of a company would actually get an advantage out of using these features, compared to the time required to train an entire office? Half of it would backfire if some users didn't understand the base concepts, as most don't.. Thoughts?
  • by PeekabooCaribou ( 544905 ) <slashdot@bwerp.net> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:50PM (#5505079) Homepage Journal
    I realize this is redundant by now, but I think this is important enough to warrant a few duplicated posts. For Microsoft's XML format to be useful (and even worth implementing), it's going to require some advantages above and beyond what plain text formatting offers. The only completely useless XML format would be:
    <document>
    This is my document.
    Second paragraph.
    </document>
    I make the assumption that at least some tags are applied, such as some sort of paragraph tags and the like. I may be going out on a limb here, but I would even assume that their final XML format will produce documents identical to .doc files. I would also assume that I could pass this file off to Joe in marketing, and he would see a document identical to the one I saw. What I'm getting at is that style has to be held somewhere. If the XML file has no style associated with it, then congratulations, Microsoft, you did it right. But if Word can display the right formatting, then so can anyone else. (Assuming Word doesn't store the styles in a proprietary format, which I don't think is beyond them.) But why am I even writing this? From the article:
    However, Mark McWilliams, a software engineer and Office 2003 beta tester, said he has seen nothing to indicate that Office 2003 removes formatting information from files saved in .xml. He noted that he opened a heavily formatted .doc Microsoft Word file, saved the file as XML, and later opened the file in Word 2003, "The opened XML document looks exactly like the original .doc file," he said. "And if I open up the XML file in a text editor, I can see that all of the formatting is properly maintained in the XML file."
    Time will tell.
  • Uh ... what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Osty ( 16825 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:12PM (#5505303)

    Furthermore, Office's new collaboration featres will only work with users who are also running Office 2003 (requiring Windows 2000 or 2003) that are connecting over XP servers.

    Excuse me if I don't take this article seriously, but the author apparently knows nothing about Windows. Office 2003 will only work on Windows 2000 or 2003? Not Windows XP? Maybe he meant that the collaboration servers require Windows 2000 servers or Windows Server 2003 servers, since there is no XP Server. And speaking of XP, what exactly does he mean by "connecting over XP servers"? That's simply impossible -- there is no server version of XP, only Home and Pro.


    As for Microsoft not supporting Office on the obsolete Win9x platforms, good for them. It's past time for Win9x to be killed off once and for all. Not supporting it in Office is a good step forward.

  • by gsfprez ( 27403 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @06:03PM (#5507415)
    people who are users like me just want a fscking file that i can open with Word, with OOo, with iWrite.. whatever... and then send it to other people. If it requires the use of pixie dust or ass cream - so long as it works, that's all anyone wants.

    Relgious zeal with XML content being separated doesn't MEAN SHIT to users. And it doesn't get me anywhere when the fact remains that when i send in my busines proposals to the government, they want it in Word-97 .doc format. Like i can even buy fuscking Office 97....

    wankers. However you want to make an open format - be our (the Joe Salesdepartment) guest... until there is something which is universal (.doc and .pdf) and editable (.doc only) we're stuck realistically with .doc... as bad as it is.

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