Microsoft Does Data Portability, Too

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-10-27 Print this article Print

But the Front has been busy building data portability bridges for Google Apps for months, including Blogger's full blog downloads to e-mail export from Gmail using IMAP and POP3.

Brian Fitzpatrick, engineering manager for the Data Liberation Front, has told eWEEK such features are geared to let users control their data, whether they choose to house it in Google's cloud computing environment, or move it elsewhere.

This is just one of the ways Google is looking to separate itself from the traditional, proprietary nature of messaging and collaboration applications, such as IBM Lotus and Microsoft Office and SharePoint.

Google's moves must be getting under the skin of Microsoft, which pulled back the covers on its Outlook documentation by letting developers read and work with the data in .pst files  using whatever programming language and platform they desire.

On desktops running Microsoft Windows, e-mail, calendar, contacts, and other data generated by Microsoft Outlook are stored in Outlook Personal Folders in a format called a .pst file.

Developers can access the data stored in the .pst file, using Messaging API (MAPI) and the Outlook Object Model, but only if Outlook is installed on the desktop.  

Paul Lorimer, group manager for Microsoft Office Interoperability, said Microsoft wants to make .pst files actionable for programmers using messaging applications other than Outlook, including Gmail or Yahoo Mail.

The technical documentation, which Lorimer characterized as in early stages and ongoing, will tell developers how the data is stored and provide guidance for accessing that data from other software applications. When it is complete, it will be released under Microsoft's Open Specification Promise, which will allow anyone to implement the .pst file format on any platform and in any tool, without concerns of infringing Microsoft's patents.

"Data portability has become an increasing need for our customers and partners as more information is stored and shared in digital formats," Lorimer said.

Om Malik find this curious, wondering whether Microsoft is bowing to "pressure from the European Union that wants to push Microsoft on the road to interoperability."

EWeek believes Microsoft may also be bowing to industry pressures from rivals such as Google, whose data liberation efforts are being warmly received by data portability evangelists.  


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