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Microsoft to Support ODF via Plug-In 269

Apache4857 writes "It appears that Microsoft has finally caved. BetaNews is reporting that Microsoft is sponsoring an open source project to enable conversion between Open XML in Office 2007 and OpenDocument formats. The project, hosted on Sourceforge.net, made its initial release today. The Word 2007 conversion utility is expected to ship ship by the end of 2006, and similarly conversion utilities for Excel and PowerPoint are expected early next year." See the announcement in Brian Jones' blog (Jones is the Microsoft program manager responsible for Office file formats).
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Microsoft to Support ODF via Plug-In

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  • Embrace and Extend (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:12AM (#15666372) Journal
    I bet it will be just as useful as PNG alpha channel in MSIE.
    • Just out of off topic curiosity, do PNGs work in IE7?
    • by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:15AM (#15666395) Homepage
      Microsoft is _sponsoring_ the development in open source.

      Not exactly the same.

      I for once have faith in what they are gonna do.

      They might just hear people and governments saying 'we don't take it anymore'.
      • by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:34AM (#15666507) Journal
        They can just create enough caveats and special properties in the -internal- Office document structure that export to ODF will simply break the documents, or require painstakingly cautious convertion to some primitives. PNG IS supported in MSIE 6.0 fully, including alpha channel, but the implementation is so much pain in the neck for developers to implement in webpages, that they simply don't bother. (you need to create a style sheet including MSIE's 'filter' CSS extensions, and apply an 'alpha' filter to the image.)

        Same can happen here - want to save ODF? Here's the microsoft way:

        Pick "plugins" menu.
        Open "plugin manager".
        Open "active plugins tab".
        Check checkbox by "ODF exporter plugin".
        Click OK.
        pick "export" menu.
        click "export to plugin".
        Are you sure you want to export the document to a plugin? Some document properties may be lost in the process." Click yes.
        "Plugin export wizard".
        "List of available plugins". Click ODF exporter.
        Click next.
        "What would you like to do with the file after export? Save to file, Send by Mail, Copy to Clipboard, Paste as new document" Pick "Save to file". Click Next.
        "Where would you like to have the file saved?" - file selector. Pick file destination.
        "Warning! Plugins contain 3rd party software which may append viruses and malware to your documents! Are you sure to proceed?" Click yes.
        "The chosen plugin is covered by the following license:" (textarea - GNU). Do you agree? Pick "yes", click Next.
        "MS Office is ready to export your document to a plugin. Click Finish to begin the export process." Click Finish.
        A progressbar appears while the open source plugin actually processes the file. A moment later a requester "You have successfuly exported the document to a plugin. Click OK to return to MS Office."

        Loading ODF document could look very similar.
        • by Tribbin ( 565963 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:49AM (#15666589) Homepage

          Double click the MSI file to install the Add-in for Word 2007.

          If installation is successful, you should see a new "ODF" entry in the "File" menu in Word 2007. It allows you to either import an ODF text file or export your current working document as an ODF text file (note that during development process, those functionalities might be temporary unavailable).

          Important note: The ODF file opened by the add-in is converted into Office OpenXML (Office 2007 new file format) and imported into Word as a read-only file. If you want to save it as ODF, you have to use the "Export as ODF" button and provide a new file name (that can be the same as the current file name).
        • It certainly sounds right - but I don't think that's the way it will pan out.

          The whole ODF pressure that MS is experiencing is coming from Government level initiatives to avoid proprietary formats. Your average Government worker will be trained in this and follow the procedure in a totally mindless fashion.

          (1) Public bodies will think nothing of spending millions to test the ODF plug-ins and if Microsoft's offering doesn't match precisely the requirements it will get the boot - Microsoft money or n
          • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... m ['eve' in gap]> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:16AM (#15667208) Homepage

            Your average Government worker will be trained in this and follow the procedure in a totally mindless fashion.

            Or it will be like the POSIX fiasco. At a certain point in history, government purchased opererating systems were required to support POSIX, which is an actual independent standard that various Unixes created after Unix fragmented. The theory was, you could write to POSIX, and your stuff would compile on any Unix, which generally works in practice. So MS tacked some POSIX support onto Windows NT.

            Of course, no one actually wrote any programs that used POSIX. The government would purchase NT boxes and write Win32 programs, not POSIX ones. They were just required to purchase POSIX operating systems, not actually use POSIX.

            Likewise, I'm imagine the government require programs that support ODF, but everyone uses the Word format to save and transport files, thus completely defeating the purpose.

        • NG IS supported in MSIE 6.0 fully, including alpha channel, but the implementation is so much pain in the neck for developers to implement in webpages, that they simply don't bother.

          That's a workaround for the fact that IE does *not* fully support PNG. Not to be confused with fully supporting PNG...

        • top that off with the fact that 'their' plugin will only convert some future MSopen-XML file format to ODF and what you get is any requirement for ODF means you have to have the next version of MS Office( which will probably require a new OS ). So, if you have any existing MS Office files, you'll have to convert them to MSopen-XML and then convert that to ODF.

          And Microsoft is claiming that they are doning this to make sure of an accurate conversion to ODF. Yeah, right. But rest assured, those who maintain u
    • I bet it will be just as useful as PNG alpha channel in MSIE.
      Or SVG... oh.
    • Use the Source (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:41AM (#15666541)
      This is bollocks. The translator is BSD licensed, you just go there and fix it if necessary.
    • In a pig's eye, they've caved! They'll corrupt the specification is what will happen.

      Don't expect Microsoft to ever, not ever, cooperate. Expect them to corrupt the 'specification'.
      • Pepsi: Yo, Coke. Some loonies on line one say they have your secrets. But don't worry. We're setting up a sting.
        Coke: Uh. Ok.
        The Press: So, Pepsi, why did you feel the need to do the right thing?
        Pepsi: Because competition should be fair.

        Microsoft: Idiots!
    • by plj ( 673710 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:28AM (#15666839)
      It is interesting that Jones accuses OO.o for extending the ODF spec. From his blog:

      “OpenOffice has actually made the decision to extend the spec in ways that don't actually appear to be allowed (like with numbering formats), and I'm not sure if that's the right way to go. I've seen a lot of problems when moving documents from OpenOffice to KOffice for example, and I'm sure these divergences from the spec don't help out. Is the right thing to extend in the same ways OpenOffice did, or is it best to wait for OASIS to release the next version of the spec and hope that it specifies some of those missing features? Nobody wants a format that's constantly changing, so if you do decide to extend the format like OpenOffice did, what happens when ODF 2.0 comes out and it specifies that feature differently from how OpenOffice did it? What about features that aren't in ODF or in OpenOffice? Should we create new extensions ourselves or just lose that information? It's going to be fun working with everyone to figure this stuff out.”

      I'm not capable to judge whether this is true or just FUD, but it is interesting nevertheless.
  • Corrected URL (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rosyna ( 80334 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:13AM (#15666380) Homepage
    The correct url is http://blogs.msdn.com/brian_jones/archive/2006/07/ 05/657510.aspx [msdn.com] the link in the summary was missing the trailing x.
  • Excellent news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saunalainen ( 627977 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:14AM (#15666385)
    Now governments can mandate all documents be in ODF format without being accused of abandoning their disabled constituency, and Microsoft will have to compete on its features and performance rather than vendor lock-in.
    • Yeah, it's very hard avoiding such accusations when you got a company like Microsoft around.
    • Re:Excellent news (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Krynus ( 14625 )
      Unfortunately, that's not how it works in reality. Governments *might* mandate documents be in an open format, which Microsoft is (We made it XML! That's open, duh!). Nothing changes except it's slightly-less of a pain in the arse to deal with office documents now.

      Everyone here needs understand: everything Microsoft does is about making more money. That's their responsibility to their stockholders. They have no reason whatsoever to expend above and beyond the baseline compatibility requirements.

      I can a
    • Now, there's really no reason for anybody to use Open Office (or Star Office, or whatever they're called this week). MS Office will continue to be used almost exclusively because it can now handle any document, and of course, most of the outside world will still use MS Office documents.
      • ...Now, there's really no reason for anybody to use Open Office...

        I couldn't decide if you were trolling or not, but I'll assume not in deference to your relatively low userid.

        No reason? How about price? How about working on older platforms? How about wanting stuff in ODF now? I actually see it just the opposite. Now there's no reason to store a document in any format OTHER than ODF -- regardless of your editor. Which is awesome. You want to use MS Office? Party On Wayne! You want to use Open Of

        • OK, whatever you say. Time will tell. The thing is that the OSS zealots always bring up price, but in reality, end-user, shirnk-wrapped software is NOT expensive. I've never heard anybody complain about software prices. I can't think of anything that really is all that prohibitively expensive. Now, my $1200/workstation point-of-sale software is another story... (but of course, there's nothing decent that's open source).
    • And by the same token OO.o will have to compete on its features rather than, "Use us because we support ODF!!".
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:17AM (#15666403)
    Microsoft notes that OpenDocument still has gaps that are being worked out by OASIS, such as spreadsheet formulas, macro support and support for accessibility options. Citing Open XML's accessibility features for disabled workers, file performance and support for integrating external XML data, Microsoft says ODF "focuses on more limited requirements."
    "Accessibility options" and "disabled workers".

    That's not the responsibility of the file format.

    That's the responsibility of the app used to read/write that file format.

    And with an Open standard for file formats, there's no reason that anyone could not write an app that did direct file-to-speech with no need for a visual display (as is currently the case).
    • I've got a reason that "anyone" could not write such an app. I lack the skillz.
    • by cnettel ( 836611 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:40AM (#15666534)
      Not necessarily. For example, PostScript is a very bad format for distributing documents that are to be consumed in any other way than as a graphical document. A naively created PDF can be quite bad, a properly annotated one not so bad. HOW you represent the data is relevant. I would imagine that most formats that are suitable for further editing in a structured manner should be quite good from an accessibility standpoint as well, but you can certainly choose to code things like text flow in a manner that makes a good UI, but where the semantics are lost. The app can only present and persist what's allowed in the format.

      DISCLAIMER: This is general obvious facts. I don't recommend the current or future MS Office XML formats as any example of how things should be done.

      • This comment makes a good point about how data formats and editors manage semantics, presentation, and accessibility. As an earlier comment said, accessibility functions don't belong in the file format itself. However, the "openness" of a format has nothing to do with how easy it is to write accessible applications based on it. File formats (and editing techniques) that concentrate more on structure and semantics rather than only presentation are better suited to accessibility. But even if the format is wel

  • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:17AM (#15666405)
    Well, at least the project is open source so other developers can take it and run with it. This version is not what the PR people would like you to believe. Check out this doozy of a quote from the sourceforge forum:

    "With the first release (0.1 - prototype), you can only convert documents from ODF to OpenXML. This can be done either with the Word Add-in (which requires both .NET Framewok 2.0 and Word 2007) or through the command line tool, which only requires .NET framework 2.0. "

    ( http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?thread_id=1 531122&forum_id=579283 [sourceforge.net] )
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:20AM (#15666420)
    A spokesperson for Microsoft was quoted as saying "Well...we weren't going to do it at first. But then the gang over at /. asked us too, and we just can't say no to those guys after all the love they've shown us in the past."


  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:22AM (#15666438) Homepage Journal
    ...SoftMaker's Dr. Martin Sommer states [slashdot.org] that an ODF plugin for MS Office would hinder acceptance of alternative office suites. Then all of a sudden, MS is throwing in their support for an independant project that had started a few weeks earlier.
    • Man, I can't believe that ploy actually worked :).
    • ODF plugin for MS Office would hinder acceptance of alternative office suites

      Meh, so what? If this plugin truly enables us alternative-office-suite-users to have better compatibility with those who cling to MS Office, so be it. At least they'll be able to view/edit our documents with less headaches.

      I'm more concerned about the file format (ODF) than the suite itself (OO.o, Abiword, etc.)

      • except every other imported ODF word will be reversed because of a mismatch between ODF and MSopenXML. Well, that's what they'll say.

        Sure it's on Sourceforge.net and we could 'fix' these issues but then again, we really don't think there'll be anything there which handles the 'patented' and 'proprietary' parts of the MS Office file formats( old or new ) do we? I hope not.

  • The mice will play. Mysteriously, the blog link is a 404. I'm sure it was just a typo :) Kind of interesting timing, as Bill goes off to spend billions of someone else's dollars and now has to deal with packing as much as possible into PC's that will ship to developing countries .. all of a sudden an about face.

    Not sure if this is him realizing just how difficult a lack of interoperability was making things in the real world, or his way of saying "Folks, I'm really (honestly) hands off now, see?"

    So ... on t
  • by DesertWolf0132 ( 718296 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:26AM (#15666464) Homepage
    So when does the conversion utility for versions of Office people actually have come out? I have yet to find anyone who already owns a version of Office that is looking to upgrade. There are no features in the newest versions worth the pricetag. They claim OpenXML is THE reason to upgrade but with Open Document being availible without the insane pricetag there has been no real reason to upgrade. I still run 2003 on my work systems (only because the retards here already had it when I was hired and no one wants to try OpenOffice.org) and I would LOVE to convert all of our documents so when I finally make the switch on everyone to OO it will be that much easier. Once more governments move to Open Document standards getting OO adopted here will be a snap.
    • If OpenXML is standardized like Microsoft wants, and there is still no accessibility capable ODF products available, MS Office could end up winning by default anywhere with accessibility laws on the books. That is exactly the reason governments are asking for ODF support. They want to use the ODF format, but want to use Microsoft Office to satisfy their legal obligations. They could end up using OpenXML and MS Office if OpenXML becomes a standard.
      • The thing is, the accessibility features are actually a feature set of Windows, not Office. To test I just pulled up OO and then used Narrator from the Accessibility menu to read me some text I typed in. You lose none of the accessibility features with ODF as long as you use an OS with those features. There are better features out there than wht is included with Windows but those are from third parties and have nothing to do with Office.
    • So when does the conversion utility for versions of Office people actually have come out?

      Please read the article.

      They say that an Open XML plugin will be available for older versions of Word, and that ODF export will work with it.

    • I have an excellent reason for upgrading, and it is a feature which has not, from what I can tell, gotten much press: the extended size of MS Excel spreadsheets (hint: over 100,000 columns & 1,000,000 rows). I could have used this feature a while back, and would certainly love to have it for the future.

    • They cover them too. FTFA:Another cool piece of this is that it will also work in older versions of Office. This is because the tools leverage the Open XML support, and we're providing free updates to previous versions of Office that allow them to read and write Open XML. It's another great benefit of leveraging the Open XML formats for the tool.

  • by Raphael ( 18701 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:27AM (#15666467) Homepage Journal

    This add-in is certainly a step in the right direction. But opening and saving files with this add-in is not as convenient as if the format was supported natively.

    Here is an example of the problems that the users will face when using it (from the project home page [sourceforge.net]):

    Important note: The ODF file opened by the add-in is converted into Office OpenXML (Office 2007 new file format) and imported into Word as a read-only file. If you want to save it as ODF, you have to use the "Export as ODF" button and provide a new file name (that can be the same as the current file name).

    Basically, this add-in will encourage you to convert your ODF documents to OpenXML, but if you really insist and if you really want to save (sorry, export) as ODF, then it will let you do that as well. You will just have to re-type or re-select the file name.

  • Caved? Hardly! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:28AM (#15666473) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has not caved as TFA says. Now they can compete in new markets where they were being gradually squeezed out. Now organizations can say that they support open standards while still using Microsoft Office. I am sure that they will do a half-hearted job of supporting ODF, and people will grow frustrated with how "limited" it is compared to the native XML file type. They will not realize that only Microsoft's implementation is limited. As a result they might start using the latter for things that are saved locally, undermining ODF efforts.
    • Exactly. The idea is to be able to fulfill a checkbox item. Now they can say they support open formats so customers feel all warm and fuzzy. Why in a plugin if they're going to do it anyway? Because people just expect plugins to be flakier. So, when it doesn't fully work, you just blame the plugin. So, customers stick with native Word format because it works better but feel all warm and fuzzy inside because they (think they) could use ODF if they wanted to.
      • You got it. I have been very happy with OoO's .doc support (I use Documents to Go with my LifeDrive and it doesn't yet support ODF) which I think has been a key to its popularity. If they can make things work fairly seemlessly between the two formats, I expect that Microsoft can do at least as well.
  • If they do this, I'm not going to buy Office 2007. I don't want my office "productivity" suite cluttered up with a lot of extra options on how to do things. I want Microsoft to tell me! Long live .doc, the one true format.
  • by gnarlin ( 696263 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:32AM (#15666497) Homepage Journal
    In Soviet Russia Microsoft suppor.... Oh, wait!?
  • Taking bets... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbarclay10 ( 70443 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:41AM (#15666538)
    Okay, I'm taking bets on them doing this as part of a typical "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, Extort" cycle. I give 2:1 odds on Microsoft producing ODF documents that just don't work right, or are horribly buggy. The import will lose all sorts of formatting and similar such things.

    Anybody? :)
    • Re:Taking bets... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:03AM (#15666669) Journal
      Well, since the project is BSD licensed, what's to stop you from fixing it?
      • Re:Taking bets... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Locutus ( 9039 )
        Well, since the project is BSD licensed, what's to stop you from fixing it?

        And what would be the purpose of doing that? You know darn well that ODF format/structures will not be translated to the same proprietary format/structures of MSopen XML.

        This 'plug-in' is only going go convert from ODF to MSopen XML initially and supposedly, it'll eventually go the other way. If you'd like to convert your existing proprietary formatted MS-word document formats then you'll have to move them to MSopen XML first

  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:43AM (#15666555) Homepage Journal
    Several reasons:
    1. Microsoft has finally realized it cannot fight against the Linux trend. Even if Linux is not ready for the desktop -- which is debatable -- free [beer|speech] software is now good enough to replace at least part of Windows and/or Office on the desktop.
    2. Microsoft now openly acknowledges -- through this decision -- that they don't control the market, but that they are forced to bow to the pressure of their clients. This is pretty much unprecedented, as Microsoft, through FUD and VaporWare, used to control its clients, and not the other way around.

    All in all, this is very good news for Open Source, and a chink in the mighty Microsoft FUD machine...
  • Top Execs Leave? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:43AM (#15666559)
    Is it just a coincidence that MSFT joins the Open Source community and adopts ODF after some of their top [slashdot.org] execs [slashdot.org] say they're leaving? Perhaps there was a movement within that these top execs didn't like?
  • Clarifications (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<megazzt> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:44AM (#15666567) Homepage

    It's a plugin for Word, it's not a separate conversion utility as the article implies.

    It can't handle manual page breaks it seems. Once I get OpenOffice.org on here to verify, I'm submitting their first bug report. :)

    The default install directory seems to indicate this is a third-party tool, not an MS tool.

    It doesn't add file types to the default Open/Save dialogs (the ideal solution). Instead, you import and export the files with their own dialogs. This also means hitting File/Save when you have an ODF file open will open up a save as dialog fro DOCX only.

  • While other people repeat the "embrace, extent, extinguish, extort, exume" prophecy, I see reasons not to make that assumption about Microsoft.

    For one, it has received a lot of attention in the mainstream press about delays in delivery of Vista and the next release of Office. Further, there has been a lot of significant changes in the heirarchy of Microsoft. Couple that with their loosing streak against political and business pressures, suggests that they should change and adapt or face catastrophy.

    They C
  • by Werrismys ( 764601 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:05AM (#15666688)
    We need this plugin for Office 2000, XP etc too. No-one is going to upgrade to 2007's DRM hell to read ODF.
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:16AM (#15666756) Homepage
    but what they are actually are going to do is create a broken implementation of ODF and then point and say: see see see, while some OSS developer is going to create another plugin that does it all perfectly but breaks with every Office update. They are going to be sued for some pennies for not opening up their documentation and maintaining their monopoly. We've seen it over and over again with HTML, Java, Novell and it's going to happen again.

    BTW: their current conversion tool doesn't work for certain features (manual page break) which is NOT a compatibility issue. It's obviously broken by design.

    I for one am not impressed and do NOT welcome our ODF-importing overlords.
    • Wow, I think your tinfoil hat is on a little to tight.

      To say "they are going to create an broken implmentation" is silly. They don't control sourceforge, and the tool is released under the BSD license. So essentally they don't control any element of it.

      This is a 'duh' story - essentally Microsoft put some money into a project that converts from one OPEN standard to another OPEN standard. It's not like they gave up any secret sauce.

      If you want to make sure that the "page break" problem is solved, get your
  • BSD license = good! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:20AM (#15666785) Homepage
    Well I was amazed to see no one had commented on their choice of LICENSE yet. It's interesting to see what MS would choose as a license in their foray into the OSS world. I would have been really surprised if they'd chosen GPL, because of obvious ethical conflicts, but I don't think I quite expected them to choose BSD.

    This is significant, because it means developers are free to take the code and do what they want with it. For instance, how many people actually have Word 2007? With the BSD license someone could back-port it to previous versions...

    It also implies that MS can't get away with "embrace and extend", because whatever they choose to do, someone will come along and create a custom version with the cruft removed. Consequently, I expect they just won't bother to put any in the first place. (Well, maybe that's wishful thinking.)

    Additionally, if this plugin integrates badly with Word, making it difficult or non-obvious for people to use, or doesn't adequately convert certain features that it could probably handle better, someone is free to come along and improve it!

    Even if the MS project doesn't accept people's suggestions and changes, the BSD license ensures that anyone is free to fork it and release their own version.

    So: The fact that they chose the BSD license is a really important detail here.. very interesting move.
    • Why speculate? The blog post mentions that this plugin converts from OpenXML to ODF. And that OpenXML will be backported and thus ODF will be able to be backported as well.

      Rampant speculation is nothing compared to some reading comprehension...

      Another cool piece of this is that it will also work in older versions of Office. This is because the tools leverage the Open XML support, and we're providing free updates to previous versions of Office that allow them to read and write Open XML. It's another gre

  • Belium and Massachusetts. Software is developed by a Frech, an Indian and a German company.

    Sound like Europe has become the fighter of freedom of the people. I also like the quote on this Flemish site [datanews.be] that Microsoft Tom Robertson sayd that they noticed that cusomers did not want homogenity, but diversity.

    Darn, the cat has not even left the house and the mice are already dancing.
  • PR Stunt (Score:4, Informative)

    by a_karbon_devel_005 ( 733886 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:25AM (#15666817)
    First off, plugins like this were going to arise anyway. Look at (http://sourceforge.net/projects/aodl). This is a conversion program started in 2005. MS has just decided it would like to be "officially, but not too officially" in charge of it.

    Interesting comments in the blog:

    While we still aren't seeing a strong demand for ODF support from our corporate or consumer customers, it's now a bit different with governments. We've had some governments request that we help build solutions so that can use ODF for certain situations...

    From my understanding this is more along the lines of "certain governments in all situations." But, hell, MS can probably win those markets back with an Open Office that supports ODF in some way, but as a plugin MS can blame the standard or the plugin writers (who are working on an Open project, remember, not a MS one!). Which brings us to:

    Nobody wants a format that's constantly changing, so if you do decide to extend the format like OpenOffice did, what happens when ODF 2.0 comes out and it specifies that feature differently from how OpenOffice did it?

    A little late to ask these questions isn't it? Why not just go to the OASIS site (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php? wg_abbrev=odf-adoption) become a member, and get the standards set for the stuff you need? Oh. Because you really don't care, you're just doing "lip DIS-service" to ODF by pointing out the problems that all standards run into.

    If Microsoft had gone to OASIS and said "Look we really love this ODF stuff, but to interoperate properly with Office, it would have to support feature X, Y and Z, at least in theory" it would have happened for SURE. However, they were betting that once MS said "hey we won't support ODF" then the "turncoat" governmental offices that had demanded ODF would say "oh... well... poo" and go back to Office.
  • This is certainly a step forward for users everywhere, but what about MS-Project? There is no open interoperability between MS Project and any other tools at all.

  • welcome our BSD-using ODF plugin overlords...

    Well, I would if I wasn't already using OpenOffice.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:18AM (#15667218) Homepage Journal
    As if.

    MS has probably realized that the usual embrace, extend, extinguish will work better than flat out refusal. Let's see:

    Scenario A: MS refuses to do ODF
    Since ODF is making inroads in many places, and is being written into laws in others, flat out refusal will mean either someone else writes a plugin (oops, already happened) or people switch to OpenOffice. Also, it'll mean that Office XML is dead, dead, dead because everyone interested in XML office documents will use ODF while those interested in MS Office will stay with legacy formats.

    Scenario B: MS does an Office plugin
    If MS "supports" ODF, then everyone used to Word will stay with Word instead of switching to OpenOffice. Also, lots and lots of these people will use Office XML as their document format and only convert to ODF when necessary, a process MS can greatly enhance by making sure that their ODF implementation is just slightly less convenient than their Office XML implementation.
    Then, a couple years down the road, they'll add some killer feature that they only implement into Office XML and not their ODF version. Or they extend ODF the way they tried with Kerberos.

    "caved in". Pfft.
  • by MrCopilot ( 871878 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:28AM (#15667286) Homepage Journal
    Open XML Formats Are for Everyone to Use We've made the Open XML file formats available for everyone to use. The file formats are simple standards-based XML text and are readable by a broad range of XML authoring and editing tools. We've applied a new intellectual property sharing approach to the file formats, which includes a Covenant Not To Sue (CNS) provision to assure software developers that they can use the file formats for free and without financial or intellectual property consideration toward Microsoft. We've also submitted the file formats along with other industry leaders for continued development and management by the Ecma International standards organization.

    We hope and expect that millions of third-party developers around the world will build solutions using the Open XML file formats. Already, hundreds of thousands of developers are working with the XML capabilities of Microsoft Office. Any developer may use or join the OpenXMLDeveloper.org community to receive the latest information and participate in active code-sharing and experience-sharing opportunities.

    Come join the covenant, Be one with the covenant. Or we Will Sue your ass.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @11:35AM (#15667328)
    Open office.

    If someone gives you an Open doc format, Microsoft doesnt want you installing the free competition to read it.

    They want to keep you in their Office suite. (which is very nice btw)

  • A token (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @12:55PM (#15668003) Homepage
    By not including the support in the core product, this is effectively a token move. I have found that 99% of end users will not install additional components, even if it's a free download. Office is pre-installed on their computers (or installed by their IT people); but ODF will not gain obiquity if Office does not support it "out of the box." (Unless enough brave governments buck MS's strangehold.)

APL hackers do it in the quad.