Microsoft opens itself to ODF and PDF and XPS and even OASIS

It's IT Blogwatch in which Microsoft suddenly supports open document standards. And there doesn't appear to be a lawsuit or a judgment lurking behind the decision. Not to mention a whole lotta LEGOs ...

Elizabeth Montalbano reports:

Microsoft Corp. is expected to announce later today that it is finally adding support for ODF (Open Document Format for Office Applications) and Adobe Systems Inc.'s PDF file format to its Office productivity suite.

Support for ODF and PDF will be included in the software through Microsoft Office Service Pack 2, which is expected to be out in the first half of 2009, according to a draft Microsoft press release viewed by the IDG News Service. more

Jason Matusow uses his MSDN blog to summarize:

The really short version of this announcement is that Office is going to support ODF, PDF, and XPS in the product directly and Microsoft engineers are going to join the OASIS working group on ODF, participate in the future of PDF in AIIM, stay active in the Ecma working group for XPS, and of course, remain active in JTC 1 SC34 where Open XML (and hopefully ODF) will be maintained over time. Also, when released, Office 14 will update the already substantial support for IS29500 in Office 2007. more

Cubekid is confused:

What the hell Microsoft.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the part about ODF being supported natively is great news for people who understand why truly open formats are needed. Good job Microsoft for finally implementing it. But the whole OOXML part is very strange. Microsoft has spent a lot of time and money conducted some questionable practices to get OOXML committed as an ISO standard. But you can’t actually USE this standard in Office until the new release? more

Sam remembers back:

Microsoft Office handles document formats, especially in terms of support for open standards, has a long and messy history. There have been many pushes to get organizations and governments to adopt ODF as a more open alternative to Microsoft's Open Office XML set of formats. But Microsoft appears to be making a big move toward more openness with its latest news.

...

Overall, Microsoft's latest move appears to be good news for document interoperability. However, there are some skeptics. The Open Document Format Alliance issued a statement today saying: The ODF Alliance today greeted with skepticism Microsoft's announcement of its intention to include support for the Open Document Format in the first half of 2009. more

Scott M. Fulton, III, is impressed:

It is a monumental change in how things will work from here on out; and yes, there's no question that one reason Microsoft did it was to ensure the continued survival, and probable dominance, of Microsoft Office. The one effective bit of leverage its competitors had against it up until this year was the notion that using Office locked users, offices, businesses, enterprises, and governments into a single way of encoding documents whose methodology was subject to change by a private enterprise for reasons of its own making. Now, that leverage is nullified. The reason for challenging Microsoft Office on the basis of fairness, is gone. more

Jacqui Cheng knows why:

Microsoft's decision appears to be the fruit of its decision earlier this year to better support open standards and may help convince the EU of its good intentions. In January, the European Commission launched a new investigation into the company due, in part, to Office's interoperability concerns. And, earlier this month, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) complained once again about Microsoft, alleging that the company has hurt users by limiting what types of files could be used with Office 2007. more

The independent voice of Microsoft customers must be heard:

To be fair, there was a time when Microsoft had wanted to add PDF to Office 2007. But Adobe, the owner of the specification at the time, blocked Microsoft from doing so. Adobe has since turned over PDF to ISO as an open standard. more

Brad Linder has an idea:

Or you could just use OpenOffice.org today. No waiting until 2009 necessary. more


And finally...
look out below.


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Joyce Carpenter standardized today's post. Regular blogwatcher, Richi Jennings, will be back tomorrow.

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