Microsoft Will Work With Competing File Formats

For years Microsoft has refused to allow its applications to work with open source file formats, however, Reuters writes Responding to government requests for interoperability, Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it will offer free software that will allow Word, Excel and PowerPoint to handle documents in rival technology formats. This initiative is entitled, Open XML Translator project.
In addition to being made available as free, downloadable add-ins for several older versions of the Microsoft Office system, the translation tools will be developed and licensed as open source software. The translation tools will be broadly available to the industry for use with other individual or commercial projects to accelerate document interoperability and expand customer choice between Open XML and other technologies.
Open XML and ODF were designed to meet very different customer requirements. By developing the bidirectional translation tools through an open source project, the technical decisions and tradeoffs necessary will be transparent to everyone ó Open XML and ODF advocates alike. The Open XML formats are unique in their compatibility and fidelity to billions of Office documents, helping protect customers’ intellectual investments. Open XML formats are also distinguished by their approach to accessibility support for disabled workers, file performance and flexibility to empower organizations to access and integrate their own XML data with the documents they use every day. In contrast, ODF focuses on more limited requirements, is architected very differently and is now under review in OASIS subcommittees to fill key gaps such as spreadsheet formulas, macro support and support for accessibility options. As a result, certain compromises and customer disclosures will be a necessary part of translating between the two formats.
Read more about this from Microsoft here.

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Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com & Infusionsoft. Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook