May 20, 2007 9:00 PM PDT

Microsoft to support Chinese document standard

Microsoft is expanding its repertoire of document formats.

The company on Monday is expected to announce that it is sponsoring an open-source project to create a converter between Ecma Open XML--a set of file formats closely tied to Microsoft Office--and a Chinese national standard called Unified Office Format (UOF).

Also on Monday, the company is expected to make available beta versions of previously announced translators between PowerPoint and Excel and corresponding applications that support the OpenDocument Format, or ODF.

The converters, to be available on the SourceForge.net site, let people open and save documents in either the Ecma Open XML formats or ODF. An initial translator for Word was released earlier this year; those for PowerPoint and Excel are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The beta software will work with the XP, 2003 and 2007 versions of Powerpoint and Excel.

With its planned UOF converts, Microsoft is taking a similar approach in sponsoring an open-source project. The company decided to support UOF through a translator because of interest among Chinese government customers and institutions, according to Microsoft.

The Beijing Information Technology Institute, one of the creators of UOF, will participate in the open-source project, according to a Microsoft representative.

The project will also be posted on Sourceforge, a popular open-source project hosting site. A beta version of initial converters is expected at the end of July and will become a final product early next year.

See more CNET content tagged:
ECMA, OpenDocument Format, open-source project, SourceForge, converter

11 comments

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Why...
... should companies (conducting international business) be concerned with yet another standard (Ecma Open XML) when there is already the Open Document Format Standards (ODF) which was approved by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And...
an ODF to UOF Converter is already available.

In addition, Sun has proposed a merger of ODF & UOF which will, if it happens, give the world yet another reason to ignore MS's "open" (wink, wink) office xml format.

MS Office is a great suite, but MS needs to forget trying to lock people into it with their proprietary formats and join the party.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://odf-to-uof.sourceforge.net/index.html" target="_newWindow">http://odf-to-uof.sourceforge.net/index.html</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070418-sun-exec-illuminates-need-for-office-format-harmonization.html" target="_newWindow">http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070418-sun-exec-illuminates-need-for-office-format-harmonization.html</a>
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
microsoft doesn't support ODF
does it?

I know there was a big hubbub about M$ not accepting Open Office documents (but the reverse is accepted by Open Office) they claimed they never would accept that standard despite it being an intermational standard
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
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International Standards....
... are like those of the ODF and "Standards" (ODF for Documentation and NDT for the Structural Integrity of Materials and Metals) that allow for sustainable (economically viable) operations like those of the CONCORDE (presently in moth-ball) the "Russian Federation" Space Flights as well as those from HOUSTON. Who needs waste time and other resources "trying out" other standards!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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In That...
... Companies like IBM and its Alliance Partners that have already adopted the Open Document Format Standards (ODF) are "light years" ahead of this one now being announced by Microsoft and China!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
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What Hope is There....
... that there is not going to be concern later on about "DATA INTEGRITY" like the one with which the "pet food" industry was quite recently faced with. Whoooaaahhhhh!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pet Food?
What about the computer you're using, the MP3 player you're using or the shoes you're wearing? where are they made?
Posted by pwoon (790 comments )
Link Flag
Does ODF support Chinese
If not....
Posted by pwoon (790 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yet Another Standard
As one who works in the world of standards, I've often heard it said that "the great things about standards is there are so many from which to choose". Clearly, this is another example.

But two standards is enough, don't you think? I am not an expert on either of the two existing standards (OpenDocument and Office Open XML), but I can report that Open Office XML is very, very slow when compared to Microsoft's native binary format. Being able to visually see the load times for documents, I decided to test the load time of one length document: it took 4 seconds for Word to load the binary version and right about 12 seconds to load the Open Office XML version of the same document! I doubt OpenDocument would really be any faster, given that their constructs are so similar.

So, it is reasonable to do some research into way to improve our lives. One way to do that is to create an open standard that is better than what the market has to offer. But, if yet-another-standard is to be produced, why on Earth create yet-another-sluggish-XML-based standard? Be different: create something fast! Open is good, but slow is not.

Paul
Posted by paulej (1261 comments )
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