Microsoft ODF Plug-In Nears Completion

Microsoft is close to releasing a plug-in for its Microsoft Word application that will be able to open files saved in the OpenDocument Format, the company has indicated. While initially the program will not be able to save files, such functionality will be added later this year.

The plug-in is on track for an October 23 release, the company has said.

Microsoft first indicated it would support ODF in July of this year. The move was an abrupt about-face for Microsoft, who had been pushing its Open XML format as a superior alternative. However, increasing support for ODF has forced the company to provide a solution for customers.

Microsoft tapped France-based partner Clever Age to create the OpenDocument tools, along with independent software vendors Aztecsoft in India and Dialogika in Germany. The translation software will be made available to older versions of Microsoft Office as well through a compatibility pack that adds support for Open XML.

Users wishing to add the functionality will not find it included within Office 2007; rather, they will have to download it from the Office Web site. Microsoft will still set its own Open XML format as the default. The company is also continuing its work towards standardizing the technology.

Open XML has been submitted to both the ISO and ECMA standardization bodies. A final draft was sent to ECMA Monday, and is expected to be approved by the end of the year. A vote from ISO could come sometime in 2007, as an approval by ECMA would put the format on a "fast track" process.

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