Microsoft Launches Document Interoperability Initiative

Editor’s Note, March 10, 2008 -
The following press release was updated to correct references to the Office Open XML Formats.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — March 6, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of its Document Interoperability Initiative, which is aimed at promoting user choice among document formats and expanded opportunity for developers, partners and competitors. The launch of this initiative is an important step in Microsoft’s commitment to implement a set of strategic changes in its technology and business practices to expand interoperability through the implementation of its interoperability principles. The Document Interoperability Initiative focuses on bringing vendors together to promote interoperability between document format implementations through testing and refining those implementations, creation of format implementation test suites, and the creation of templates designed for optimal interoperability between different formats.

Microsoft hosted in Cambridge today a number of independent software vendors (ISVs), including Novell Inc., Mark Logic Corp., Quickoffice Inc., DataViz Inc. and Nuance Communications Inc., to launch this collaborative, community-based initiative. The Cambridge event is the first in a series of labs around the world that will bring together vendors to test interoperability between their implementations of well-known document formats, and between implementations of different formats. The Cambridge lab will test interoperability between existing implementations of Office Open XML Formats and the Open Document Format (ODF) on a variety of platforms and devices including Mac OS X Leopard, iPhone, Palm OS, Symbian OS, Linux and Windows Mobile.

“Microsoft believes that the industry has a responsibility to come together to address the interests of users in achieving greater interoperability and effective data exchange between widely deployed document format implementations,” said Jean Paoli, general manager for Interoperability and XML Architecture at Microsoft. “The labs are designed to bring technical staff together to roll up their sleeves and test interoperability between implementations of formats and address issues that are identified either in those implementations or in the translation technologies used to work across formats.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft to meet customer demands for content solutions that easily interoperate. Utilizing open document standards, such as Open XML and ODF, will improve the way organizations work across disparate platforms,” said Andy Feit, senior vice president of Marketing at Mark Logic. “Enhancing document format interoperability between MarkLogic Server and other products in the marketplace will make it much easier for our customers to deploy applications for content assembly, reuse and delivery.”

The labs will also include a set of integrated round table discussions between vendors about what steps should be taken to promote real-world interoperability between document format implementations in the marketplace. This will include discussions about how testing can be refined, how best to develop conformance testing suites for popular formats, and how to create document templates that are optimized for interoperability between different format implementations.

“Microsoft recognizes that users want to choose the document format that best suits their needs and that vendors have a responsibility to work together to achieve interoperability between different format implementations,” said Tom Robertson, general manager, Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft. “The Document Interoperability Initiative brings vendors together to achieve real-world interoperability between documents that customers use through testing of implementations, building conformance test suites and creating document formats that optimize interoperability between different formats. As part of the interoperability principles we announced on Feb. 21, this initiative helps achieve our goal of reshaping business practices to meet the interoperability needs of our customers and the market.”

New Translator Embraces Interoperability Principles

Also announced today is the 1.1 release of a translator between ODF and Open XML for Microsoft Excel (spreadsheet) and Microsoft PowerPoint (presentation) applications. This is the result of an ongoing open source project for which Microsoft announced its support in July 2006. Key performance enhancements and end-user improvements reflected in the new translators are based on feedback received from numerous public and private organizations.

Microsoft has committed to support future releases of the translator taking advantage of the improvements in Microsoft Office converter APIs announced as part of the interoperability principles on Feb. 21 to provide a better integrated experience for customers to open and save ODF files. These APIs and the guidance provided by the OpenXML-ODF Translator project will also make it easier for users to take advantage of other document formats, such as UOF and DAISY.

Microsoft’s Feb. 21 announcement of its interoperability principles described four new interoperability principles and corresponding actions across its high-volume business products. Additional Microsoft-sponsored document interoperability labs are currently planned in Seoul, Korea, the week of March 10, and in Berlin, Germany, in early April. Further details on these labs, the broader Document Interoperability Initiative and Microsoft’s interoperability principles can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/interop/principles.

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