Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Open Standards Support Coming In Next Microsoft Office Suite

MS Office 12, the upcoming version of Microsoft's flagship software suite will use XML file formats, allowing information to flow freely to and from Word, Excel or PowerPoint files to other applications and over the net.

Photo credit: Myles Davidson

This is a major break for Redmond, as it shows the value of adopting open standards, regardless of the business risks involved in the move. Read more on open standards.

Using XML-based formats will make for better ease-of-use of files produced using the software, as information created with the suite can be understood by any program that uses XML. This has benefits for the business world because it allows users to reuse and reposition information to fit specific needs, and facilitates online collaboration.



The risk for Microsoft is in the fact that this move will allow competitors to see how files are constructed and potentially create similar applications that could compete with Office software. The company understands this, but Brian Jones, Program Manager for the MS Word Team said they aren't worried, as this isn't the biggest benefit of opening the formats.

The company is banking that Office, already the leading office software suite, will remain dominant simply because users will find it the best platform for their needs, regardless if its file formats are not proprietary.

"The format itself isn't really what we feel is the advantage, the advantage is the application, the functionality you get. By allowing other people to build tools around our can build a tool that leverages Word, so you can have server-side processes that don't automatically generate documents," Jones said in an interview available here.

MS is also relying its legacy with users, which will allow all files created using the original formats to be transferred to XML-compatible formats. This will enable the gigantic amount of information already saved as .doc, xls, and .ppt files to be exportable directly to the net.

The software is expected to soon become available in beta, and Microsoft is currently seeking partners to test the suite. The final version is slated for release in late 2006 to coincide with the release of Windows Vista.

Readers' Comments    
2005-10-18 13:02:49

The format is NOT open, or better they keep a patent on it and with this patent they can say who can produce it and who can't. for example, free software would possibly not be allowed to produce it.

For more info look at

Of course Microsoft is starting to feel the pressure... and might end up supporting ODF: see

posted by on Tuesday, October 18 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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