Microsoft Expands List of Formats Supported in Microsoft Office

REDMOND, Wash. — May 21, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. is offering customers greater choice and more flexibility among document formats, as well as creating additional opportunities for developer and competitors, by expanding the range of document formats supported in its flagship Office productivity suite.

The 2007 Microsoft Office system already provides support for 20 different document formats within Microsoft Office Word, Office Excel and Office PowerPoint. With the release of Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) scheduled for the first half of 2009, the list will grow to include support for XML Paper Specification (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1.

When using SP2, customers will be able to open, edit and save documents using ODF and save documents into the XPS and PDF fixed formats from directly within the application without having to install any other code. It will also allow customers to set ODF as the default file format for Office 2007. To also provide ODF support for users of earlier versions of Microsoft Office (Office XP and Office 2003), Microsoft will continue to collaborate with the open source community in the ongoing development of the Open XML-ODF translator project on SourceForge.net.

In addition, Microsoft has defined a road map for its implementation of the newly ratified International Standard ISO/IEC 29500 (Office Open XML). IS29500, which was approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in March, is already substantially supported in Office 2007, and the company plans to update that support in the next major version release of the Microsoft Office system, code-named “Office 14.”

Consistent with its interoperability principles, in which the company committed to work with others toward robust, consistent and interoperable implementations across a broad range of widely deployed products, the company has also announced it will be an active participant in the future evolution of ODF, Open XML, XPS and PDF 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. Microsoft employees will also take part in the ISO/IEC working group that is being formed to maintain Open XML and the ISO/IEC working group that is being formed to improve interoperability between these and other ISO/IEC-recognized document formats. The company will also be an active participant in the ongoing standardization and maintenance activities for XPS and PDF. It will also continue to work with the IT community to promote interoperability between document file formats, including Open XML and ODF, as well as Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY XML), the foundation of the globally accepted DAISY standard for reading and publishing navigable multimedia content.

Microsoft is also committed to providing Office customers with the ability to open, edit and save documents in the Chinese national document file format standard, Uniform Office Format (UOF). The company does so today by supporting the continued development of the UOF-Open XML translator project on SourceForge.net, and will take additional steps to promote the distribution and ease of use of the translator. As UOF develops and achieves market adoption in China, Microsoft will distribute support for this format with Office to its customers in China. 

“We are committed to providing Office users with greater choice among document formats and enhanced interoperability between those formats and the applications that implement them,” said Chris Capossela, senior vice president for the Microsoft Business Division. “By increasing the openness of our products and participating actively in the development and maintenance of document format standards, we believe we can help create opportunities for developers and competitors, including members of the open source communities, to innovate and deliver new value for customers.”

Microsoft recognizes that customers care most about real-world interoperability in the marketplace, so the company is committed to continuing to engage the IT community to achieve that goal when it comes to document format standards. It will work with the Interoperability Executive Customer Council and other customers to identify the areas where document format interoperability matters most, and then collaborate with other vendors to achieve interoperability between their implementations of the formats that customers are using today. This work will continue to be carried out in the Interop Vendor Alliance (http://www.interopvendoralliance.org), the Document Interoperability Initiative (http://www.microsoft.com/interop), and a range of other interoperability labs and collaborative venues.

“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 for Novell Inc. “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.”

“The demand for a document format that everyone can use is something I hear from our customers on a regular basis,” said John D. Head, framework manager at PSC Group LLC, a Chicago headquartered  information-technology and professional services consulting firm. “I am very pleased that Microsoft is enabling Microsoft Office to support ODF directly from the software. This will allow us to develop solutions that create documents that can be edited by any user, regardless of what software or operating system they use. In a world where software companies want people to select one software package for their entire user base, the reality is that different user groups and types need options. Microsoft is now enabling users to make that choice. This is a very smart move by Microsoft, and one that lets the most important person — the customer — be the winner.”

This work on document formats is only one aspect of how Microsoft is delivering choice, interoperability and innovative solutions to the marketplace. Microsoft will continue to work with its customers and partners and the rest of the industry to continue advancing in the area. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/interop.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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Expanded Document Format Support Within Microsoft Office

Industry perspectives on the impact of this news.

Quote Sheet

May 2008

“I welcome announced ODF support in Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2. This means that next year all major office suites will be supporting both OOXML and ODF formats and each user can use the format of his or her preference. Meanwhile, this unproductive formats war can shift back to more important things — user interface and productivity of office suites.”

—Jirka Kosek

XML Consultant

Czech Republic

“It is good news that Microsoft now joins the OASIS ODF TC. It shows that they are actively listening to the community and that the work Microsoft has done in document format standardization is not a one-time thing. It is also good news for those seeking document format harmonization in ISO since exchange of information between ISO, OASIS and ECMA will now be more effective. Microsoft’s inclusion of ODF in their list covered by OSP provides a great opportunity for developers implementing ODF as well as OOXML. They now have even greater security that they will not be faced with legal actions due to patent violations caused by implementing either ODF or OOXML.”

—Jesper Lund Stocholm

Engineer

Denmark

“We endorse Microsoft’s ongoing effort in enabling interoperability between document formats by providing and integrating ODF support in its applications and by adapting its Office Open XML format to the new ISO/IEC DIS 29500 standard. In addition, we appreciate the opportunity afforded us of contributing to the ODF translator project by bringing to bear our long-term experience and expertise in EU-related conversion requirements.”

—Peter Auler

Executive Director, DIaLOGIKa

Germany

“We welcome Microsoft’s decision to provide support for ODF, PDF and XPS in Service Pack 2 for Microsoft Office 2007, which gives customers like ourselves even greater choice and flexibility. We are also pleased with Microsoft’s efforts to engage with the IT community to deliver interoperability between document format implementations in the marketplace. This is a pragmatic approach which will help us meet our real-world needs for delivering a nimble and efficient IT-user experience.”

—Radu Popescu-Zeletin

Director, Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems (FOKUS)

Germany

“This is an interesting development. I guess Microsoft demonstrated and fulfilled its commitment to open standards as voiced during the recent OOXML ‘standards battle.’ Kudos! This has proven the critics were wrong. A leap toward a sustainable open standards community.”

—Kamarul Zaman

XML Evangelist and Architect, RosettaNet

Malaysia

“The British Library is charged with preserving and enabling access to the U.K.’s digital as well as print heritage. In this regard, we view the series of steps that Microsoft has taken in recent years to work through international standards organizations culminating in the ISO Office Open XML standard very positively. Making this additional commitment to participate in the ongoing evolution of ODF as well as Office Open XML will give people and organizations even more freedom to choose the formats that best suit their needs. Strong support for these open standards decouples content from the applications that are used to create it, and will make it much easier for institutions such as ours to build digital collections that will be preserved in perpetuity.”

—Adam Farquhar

Head of Digital Library Technology, The British Library

Vice-chair of ECMA TC45

United Kingdom