Microsoft Office to support ODF, PDF/A

Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) will include native support for OpenDocument Format Version 1.1, according to a Microsoft announcement May 21.

With the implementation, users won't need to add code or translators to access ODF documents, the announcement states.

"When using SP2, customers will be able to open, edit and save documents using ODF," the company said. "It will also allow customers to set ODF as the default file format for Office 2007. "

Office 2007 SP2 is expected to be available in the first half of 2009. The company will continue to support development of the Office Open Extensible Markup Language (OOXML)/ODF translator project on SourceForge.net, for the benefit of Microsoft Office XP and Office 2003 users.

In addition to ODF, the office productivity suite will also include support for a number of other formats, including XML Paper Specification (XPS), Microsoft's version of a PDF. It will also include the ability to save files to PDF and the PDF archiving subset, PDF/A. Users will be able to "save documents into the XPS and PDF fixed formats from directly within the application without having to install any other code," according to the company.

Microsoft said it will be active in the development of ODF. The company said it plans to work along side organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization to develop and maintain various file format standards.

"Microsoft will join the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) technical committee working on the next version of ODF and will take part in the ISO/IEC working group being formed to work on ODF maintenance," the announcement indicated.

Reactions have been mixed in the information technology community.

The ODF Alliance struck a skeptical stance toward Microsoft's promise to integrate ODF support in a forthcoming software release. "The proof will be whether and when Microsoft's promised support for ODF is on par with its support for its own format. Governments will be looking for actual results, not promises in press releases," ODF Alliance managing director Marino Marcich said in a statement.

"What governments want is direct, internal support for ODF in Microsoft Office,' he said. 'Governments do not want to waste time waiting for translators to load or re-engineering default-save functions for their workforce. If Microsoft actually follows through with this most recent promise, it will reinforce the global market-led demand by customers, particularly governments, seeking open standards based interoperability through ODF."

He said dozens of governments and governmental agencies have adopted pro-ODF policies, including 12 governments that require its use, such as South Africa and the Netherlands.

ODF-supporter Novell was more enthusiastic. "Microsoft's support for ODF in Office is a great step that enables customers to work with the document format that best meets their needs, and it enables interoperability in the marketplace," said Roger Levy, senior vice president and general manager of open platform solutions at Novell, in a statement released today. "Novell is proud to be an industry leader in cross-platform document interoperability through our work in the Document Interoperability Initiative, the Interop Vendor Alliance and with our direct collaboration with Microsoft in our Interoperability Lab. We look forward to continuing this work for the benefit of customers across the IT spectrum."

Microsoft also mentioned that it was working on a plan to incorporating the ISO-standardized version of Office Open XML, Microsoft's own XML-based set of office productivity formats, for the next version of Office, code-named Office 14.

This article was originally published May 21at RedmondMag.com, an affiliate Web site of GCN.com. RedmondMag.com and GCN.com are 1105 Media Inc. properties. Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.

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