A week without some news about Microsoft and its document standards battles would be like a week without rain. Based on the number of items this week, it must be rather soggy outside.
Standards body Ecma International has formed a technical committee to develop a standard built on Microsoft’s XML Paper Specification (XPS), a rival file format to Adobe Systems’ Portable Document Format (PDF).
According to Ecma’s Web site, the goal of the TC46 – XPS Technical Committee is to create “a formal standard for an XML-based electronic paper format and XML-based page description language which is consistent with existing implementations of the format called the XML Paper Specification.”
XPS is one of many file formats natively supported in Microsoft’s Office 2007 productivity suite and was developed internally by the company. Currently, Microsoft has the only implementation of XPS.
IBM’s vice president of open source and standards Bob Sutor, also a vocal proponent of ODF — particularly since his company supports it as a default file format in software products — also criticized Ecma and Microsoft on his blog. He said Ecma will create a “standard” of XPS that goes along with Microsoft’s wishes for the technology rather than letting an impartial group develop the standard.
Massachusetts is back on the Microsoft bandwagon. Nearly two years ago, the US state unveiled a policy that required its agencies to abandon Microsoft’s Office applications in favor of apps that use “open” standards, such as the OpenDocument format (ODF).
Now, the state’s Information Technology Division has released a draft proposal that would approve Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format as an open standard, bowing to pressure from Microsoft and the Massachusetts state legislature.
Repeating an announcement it made last month when following Novell and Xandros in signing a patent agreement with Microsoft, Linux vendor Linspire said Monday it was working with the Redmond company in building translators for converting documents between Open XML and ODF.
Linspire and Freespire — a free version of the Linux distribution that does not include certain functionality and technical support — will now include bi-directional translators moving forward. This means OpenOffice.org users will be able to open and save in Microsoft’s Open XML formats, while Office 2007 users can do the same with OpenDocument.
Separate from Microsoft’s efforts to create a translator that supports Office 2007′s Open XML formats and OpenDocument, Sun has released the final 1.0 version of its own ODF plug-in for Office. However, Office 2007 is not yet supported due to what Sun calls a bug in Microsoft’s newest suite.
Sun ODF Plugin 1.0 works with Office 2003, Office XP and even Office 2000. It fully supports Word, Excel and PowerPoint files – something the Microsoft-backed plug-in does not yet do. Office 2007 is not supported due to an issue in Word 2007 in which the application ignores installed filters and only opens documents with its own. And, of course, Word does not natively support ODF.