Open Document Format Promises
Longevity"> Yates said that despite there being multiple points differentiating Microsofts format from the Open Document format, "both of them are open and there will likely be a very rich ecosystem between them and providing converters between them. In the past, OpenOffice has already supported our Office formats." According to Yates, the overriding goal of the move was to increase confidence that the marketplace as a whole would have in this new standard a foundation for documents.The move was important for customers who wanted greater control of the content and data in their documents, Yates said, enabling them to bring old documents forward into the open, XML-based future, improve business processes through the use of XML in documents, and give long-term storage and archival options for all those documents. Click here to read the eWEEK Editorial Boards view on Massachusetts open document format policy. "This move to standardization really gives them the confidence that they can move data around in the context of a document. So that is the ultimate goal that many of them are waking up to. This move also [affects] the billions of documents that customers already have out there and enables them to tap into this new level of functionality and enables many new scenarios around open documents," he said. It also would give customers the confidence that they could store documents in a format that would be long-lasting and even permanent, along with the promise that there would be many tools available to support the document use, he said, adding that customers would "not be reliant on one product or one version of a previous product from the past in order to open up those documents." If a user has a document in an earlier format, say from Office 97, that document can be converted to the format of a later product, like Office 2000, Office XP or the upcoming Office 12. Microsoft is also providing add-ons to update all of those products to this new format. "So, all of those old documents have a path to the new open, XML format, and thats just [using Microsoft software]," Yates said. Asked when these downloadable tools would be available to customers, Yates said some were currently available to the Office 12 beta customers. Part of the timing of this announcement was driven by the availability of the Office 12 beta two weeks ago. Read more about the Office 12 Beta 1 release here. "So now the code is available in addition to the specifications, which have been available for quite some time. People can now start to play with the code, understand how things work and the nuts and bolts of the format," Yates said. Offering the file formats as a standard would also enable many competing and complementary products to be able to use the formats the same way, he said: "That enables all of those different tools to work with the same information." Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
He added, "We really do believe that once the information gets out that customers will have more confidence, developers of all kinds will see the merits of going to an open-standard document format like this, especially one that accommodates all of the existing Microsoft documents out there."