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By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-09-26 Print this article Print

At least with OpenDocument, we know exactly what were getting. Other than that Office 12 will be written in XML we dont have a clue as to what it will look like. That makes me feel real good about that standard, let me tell you. You see, OpenDocument really is open, and thats why this objection is nonsense.
OpenOffice 1.1.5, which is already out, reads it. OpenOffice 2.0, which will be released shortly, already supports it. And Suns StarOffice 8, which is expected soon, will also support it. now supports the importing of OpenDocument documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Click here to read more. Other office programs that are on their way to supporting it include Suns Java Desktop System, IBMs IBM Workplace and Corels WordPerfect Suite. And let say it one more time: OpenDocument is an "open" format. Anyone, including Microsoft, can write to it. Of course, Microsoft doesnt want to. The Redmond, Wash., giant makes its billions from locking users into its way of doing things. OpenDocument frees users. If everyone started using OpenOffice for their office documents they could decide, for instance, that StarOffice 8 for, say, $50 is a better deal than Microsoft Office at $500. Heck, I was never more than a good programmer at my best, and its been ages since Ive done anything serious, but I could add in a few weeks OpenDocument compatibility to Microsoft Office if I had access to Microsofts source code. Someone who knew what they were doing should be able to do it in a week. This is basic bread-and-butter programming. By the end of October, there will probably be a half-dozen third-party utilities that enable Microsoft Office users to read and write to OpenDocument. By years end, if every office application in the world with more than a handful of users cant read and write to OpenDocument, Ill be amazed. OpenDocument is here to stay. Microsoft can either gracefully accept and support it, or fight a losing battle against it. Do us a favor, Microsoft: Learn to deal with competition again. It will be good for your products in the long run. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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