Microsoft: Office Format War Over

Microsoft Office program manager Brian Jones, whose work has centered around the Open XML document format, now says the so-called format war with OpenDocument is officially over. The winner, he says, is both.

Jones made the statement in a blog post over the weekend following the release by Novell of an Open XML translator for OpenOffice. The plug-in enables the free, open source productivity suite to open documents created in the Microsoft format, as well as saving OpenDocument (ODF) files into Open XML.

Previously, Sun released a technology preview of a plug-in for StarOffice -- Sun's branded version of OpenOffice -- that lets users open and save documents in Microsoft's Office 2003 file format. Microsoft, meanwhile, released an ODF plug-in for Word in February.

"I think at this point we can really move onto more productive and collaborative discussion and admit that we are no longer in any sort of "file format war." If we ever were really in a war, it's now over, and both sides are winners," said Jones.

"Over the past few years, we've had two important file formats come into the market, OpenXML and ODF. Both were designed for different purposes, and both have been valuable additions to the market. Now we can also say that we have multiple implementations of both formats."

Jones' remarks follow news that California is looking into mandating all government documents be published in an open format, and one of the requirements is that the format be implemented and supported by multiple applications.

Microsoft will add Open XML capability into the next release of Office for Mac OS X later this year, and Corel plans to add Open XML support into WordPerfect over the summer.

"There are definitely still some growing pains to go through. The tools that support the ISO ODF standard aren't yet fully compliant, but I think we're heading in the right direction," Jones added. "The same will be true for the OpenXML support."

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