Microsoft has given up on the third party translator route to support the Open Document Format (ODF) for office documents that is so beloved by governments and open standards advocates. Office 2007 SP2 scheduled for 1H2009 is now slated to have built-in support for ODF:
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.”
Open Office XML (OOXML) which was approved as an ISO standard in April, is almost but not quite the native document format of Office 2007, so some touch-up is required.
Microsoft had an odd press release this morning touting “Strong Global Support for Open XML as It Enters Final Phase of ISO Standards Process.” If you are trying to figure out from reading all the disjointed statistics how this weekend’s vote went on fast track approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an ISO/IEC standard, the only real clue is the quote from Tom Robertson, Microsoft’s general manager for Interoperability and Standards:
“This preliminary vote is a milestone for the widespread adoption of the Open XML formats around the world for the benefit of millions of customers. Given how encouraging today’s results were, we believe that the final tally in early 2008 will result in the ratification of Open XML as an ISO standard.”
Actually, Microsoft lost and lost despite the unprecedented influx of previously uninterested parties into the balloting.
Today at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 07 International Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft Corp. formally announced HD Photo, a new file format for end-to-end digital photography that offers higher image quality, greater preservation of data, and advanced features for today’s digital-imaging applications.
This new, next-generation digital image format offers the best solution for digital image editing and storage and unlocks the potential for digital photography on devices, applications and services. Microsoft also announced that it intends to standardize the technology and will be submitting HD Photo to an appropriate standards organization shortly.
HD Photo offers compression with up to twice the efficiency of JPEG, with fewer damaging artifacts, resulting in higher-quality images that are one-half the file size. In addition, HD Photo offers increased image fidelity, preserving the entire original image content and enabling higher-quality exposure and color adjustments in the image. This new format offers the ability to decode only the information needed for any resolution or region, or the option to manipulate the image as compressed data.
Support is already built into Windows Vista, the XML Paper Specification (XPS), .NET Framework 3.0, and Windows Imaging Component (WIC) in which places it is still called Windows Media Photo and Microsoft has found a pal in Adobe who has helped them develop HD Photo plug-ins for Photoshop which can be downloaded starting today as betas. However, it is still a long road to a new digital photography standard as Stephen Shankland details in an article at CNET and there are already suspicions on how open an HD Photo standard Microsoft is seeking.
Microsoft today released Virtual PC 2007 which, in keeping with the competition in virtualization, is available as a free download from the web. You can check out the overview document for technical details, but it uses Microsoft’s XPS format which means you have to install .NET Framework 3.0 to read it if you aren’t running Vista. If that’s impossible or the prospect fills you with dismay, the net is that Virtual PC 2007 adds:
* Support for x64 Windows as a host operating system
* Support for hardware virtualization support
* Support for Windows Vista as a guest and host operating system
* Support for PXE network booting of virtual machines
* Support for the use of fullscreen virtual machines on multi-monitor systems (VM still stays on just one monitor though)
However, as we mentioned in January, you won’t be running any Home versions of Vista in a Virtual PC because it is forbidden. Allowable hosts are Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows XP Professional, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.