May 5, 2006 12:46 PM PDT
Microsoft Office to get a dose of OpenDocument
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The OpenDocument Foundation's Edwards said his advocacy group intends to answer Massachusetts' request for information and recommend that it test his new software.
In a posting on the Groklaw site, Edwards said the group then intends to offer the plug-in to government customers in California and the European Union.
"Hard as it is to believe, it's completely coincidental that Massachusetts decided on the RFI (request for information) route the day before we notified them that the ODF Plugin had completed testing. It just looks like we did this overnight," he wrote.
Massachusetts last year decided that OpenDocument is one of its approved document formats. Executive branch agencies have committed to converting over to a system to make OpenDocument the default document format by January next year.
The reason for adopting OpenDocument, which was formally standardized about one year ago, was a concern with long-term document access, according to officials.Fork in the road
Since Massachusetts' high-profile move, Microsoft launched an effort to standardize the document formats in Office 2007 through ECMA, a European standards body.
ECMA certification for the Office Open XML formats is expected next year. Microsoft also intends to seek ISO standardization, which OpenDocument achieved on Tuesday.
Microsoft's Yates said that one of the purposes of the company's standardization effort was to invite third-party developers, including open-source developers, to create products that interoperate with the Open Office XML formats.
Having not seen plug-in software, Yates was not aware of any legal problems it might pose.
"If they are simply working with the Office Open XML Formats, or the binary format information we have made available, there should be no problem," Yates said.
Edwards, meanwhile, said that the plug-in was made specifically for people who have systems closely tied to Microsoft desktop software that would make moving to an alternative, like OpenOffice, very difficult in the short term.
"Consider the ODF Plug-in as an important part of that wave of desktop, server and device applications moving to ODF everywhere, all the time, for every purpose," he said.
Because Microsoft will make XML, rather than binary, file formats be the default setting in Office 2007, many customers will need to make some decisions about file formats in the coming years, noted RedMonk's O'Grady.
"There will be a fork in the road, whatever path you choose, whether it's Microsoft, something other, or ODF," said O'Grady.
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