Microsoft Document Strangle Ending

Aron Schatz
December 16, 2008

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If anything really hits home about Microsoft losing their grip on proprietary office formats, it is the fact that they are building in ODF support right into Office 2K7. Now let's see if they make a proper implementation of the standard or do a hack Microsoft-ish implementation that's only readable by other MS Office copies... It has been done before.


For years, IT has struggled with how best to maintain the flow of data across heterogeneous environments without incurring data loss. Monoculture or no, customers often want to save documents in a variety of formats. This has not always worked to Microsoft's advantage. In fact, last year, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency filed a complaint with the European Commission in which it alleged that Office 2007 would impede educational initiatives because it failed to natively support open standards, in particular, ODF.

Doug Mahugh, a project manager at Microsoft who deals with interoperability issues connected with the Office software suite, described the steps taken today within the broader context of disclosure, transparency, and format support. "To get there, we found that it was not just sufficient to conform to a standard. We needed transparency about all the design decisions involved in getting to that was a way of pulling together lot of the things we were doing in interoperability." Rightly or not, the perception was that Microsoft Office did not treat ODF as first class citizen. "That kind of feedback is why we built ODF support into SP 2," Mahugh said.


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