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July 6, 2006

Microsoft caves on OpenDocument Format

Posted by David Hunter at 8:11 AM ET.

The press release, though, is titled Microsoft Expands Document Interoperability:

Expanding on its customer-focused commitment to interoperability, Microsoft Corp. today announced the creation of the Open XML Translator project. The project, developed with partners, will create tools to build a technical bridge between the Microsoft® Office Open XML Formats and the OpenDocument Format (ODF). This work is in response to government requests for interoperability with ODF because they work with constituent groups that use that format. In addition to being made available as free, downloadable add-ins for several older versions of the Microsoft Office system, the translation tools will be developed and licensed as open source software. The translation tools will be broadly available to the industry for use with other individual or commercial projects to accelerate document interoperability and expand customer choice between Open XML and other technologies.

The latest such government was that of Belgium where it oddly enough appeared that the OpenDocument Foundation was going to save Microsoft’s bacon by providing translators just like those Microsoft is now proposing to develop.

Microsoft is developing the translation tools in collaboration with the France-based IT solution provider Clever Age and several independent software vendors, including Aztecsoft in India and Dialogika in Germany. A prototype version of the first translator added to Word 2007 will be posted today on the open source software development Web site SourceForge (, under the open source Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license, where anyone can submit bugs and feedback or contribute to the project. The complete version of the Word translation tool is expected to be available free from the download site by the end of 2006, with add-ins for Excel and PowerPoint expected in 2007. Older versions of Office will have access to the translation tool via a free Compatibility Pack, which also provides free updates to enable Open XML format support.

I suppose it’s less embarrassing to do it with partners after Microsoft’s previous adamant refusals to provide native ODF support. In any case, this has to be chalked up as a victory for the Open Document Format advocates. Microsoft does get points for folding their hand after the bluff became untenable, but one wonders whether the months of bad publicity were really worth it.

Filed under General Business, Governmental Relations, Microsoft, ODF, OOXML, Office, Office 2003, Office 2007, Office XP, Public Relations, Standards

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3 Responses to “Microsoft caves on OpenDocument Format”

  1. Microsoft Weekly Miscellany, October 14, 2006 -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The Microsoft OpenDocument Format plugin for Microsoft Word will be released October 23. You’ll recall that this saves Microsoft’s bacon with some customers demanding open document formatting standards. [...]

  2. Microsoft Word OpenDocument translator ready -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] In July, Microsoft got around a particularly sticky problem with a variety of governments who insisted on OpenDocument Format (ODF) support from their office software products by creating the Open XML Translator project which would provide freely available plug-ins to translate from Office 2007’s Open XML format to ODF (and vice versa). Today, the project released the first plug-in for translating Microsoft Word documents: The Open XML Translator is now available for download in version 1.0 from, a site that acts as an online repository for open-source projects. The software also can be found on Microsoft’s Web site here and here. [...]

  3. Microsoft cleanup crew tackles Netherlands ODF spill | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The local OpenDoc Society says that Microsoft is unnecessarily upset since the availability of ODF plug-ins would allow Microsoft Office be used. We’ve heard that one before, but clearly it is an non-optimal alternative for Microsoft since they would much prefer that their Office Open XML (OOXML) be considered an open standard.   Filed under Standards, Governmental Relations, General Business, Open XML, OpenDocument, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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