Microsoft Expands Document Interoperability

Company to Sponsor Open Source Project for Open XML-ODF File Translation to

Deliver More Choice for Government Customers and Their Constituents

Jul 06, 2006, 01:00 ET from Microsoft Corp.

    REDMOND, Wash., July 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Expanding on its
 customer-focused commitment to interoperability, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:  
 MSFT) today announced the creation of the Open XML Translator project. The
 project, developed with partners, will create tools to build a technical
 bridge between the Microsoft(R) Office Open XML Formats and the
 OpenDocument Format (ODF). This work is in response to government requests
 for interoperability with ODF because they work with constituent groups
 that use that format. In addition to being made available as free,
 downloadable add-ins for several older versions of the Microsoft Office
 system, the translation tools will be developed and licensed as open source
 software. The translation tools will be broadly available to the industry
 for use with other individual or commercial projects to accelerate document
 interoperability and expand customer choice between Open XML and other
     "By enabling this translator, we will make both choice and
 interoperability a more practical option for our customers," said Jean
 Paoli, general manager of interoperability and XML architecture at
 Microsoft. "We believe that Open XML meets the needs of millions of
 organizations for a new approach to file formats, so we are sharing it with
 the industry by submitting it, with others, to become a worldwide standard.
 Yet it is very important that customers have the freedom to choose from a
 range of technologies to meet their diverse needs."
     Open XML and ODF were designed to meet very different customer
 requirements. By developing the bidirectional translation tools through an
 open source project, the technical decisions and tradeoffs necessary will
 be transparent to everyone -- Open XML and ODF advocates alike. The Open
 XML formats are unique in their compatibility and fidelity to billions of
 Office documents, helping protect customers' intellectual investments. Open
 XML formats are also distinguished by their approach to accessibility
 support for disabled workers, file performance and flexibility to empower
 organizations to access and integrate their own XML data with the documents
 they use every day. In contrast, ODF focuses on more limited requirements,
 is architected very differently and is now under review in OASIS
 subcommittees to fill key gaps such as spreadsheet formulas, macro support
 and support for accessibility options. As a result, certain compromises and
 customer disclosures will be a necessary part of translating between the
 two formats.
     Interoperable by Design
     Today Microsoft Office Word, Excel(R) and PowerPoint(R) already include
 built-in support for dozens of formats to enable interoperability across
 products. In addition to the default Open XML file formats, the 2007
 Microsoft Office system will include a new menu option that points users to
 add-ins for PDF and XML-based formats such as the XML Paper Specification
 (XPS), and now ODF as well. Because these add-ins are available online from
 a download service, customers will have easy access to the latest industry
 file format options along with the comprehensive Open XML formats.
     "Interoperability is a key priority of the government in the
 e-governance paradigm. Our ability to meet the needs of citizens will be
 greatly increased by the interoperability and integration of open,
 XML-based standards," said M. Moni, deputy director general of the National
 Informatics Centre, who is spearheading the process of e-government
 standards in India. "It also empowers citizens to use the software of their
 choice. So, we are very pleased to see Microsoft take a responsible and
 open, yet practical, approach to our interoperability requirements."
     "Electronic document translation between different fixed formats is
 always going to be somewhat inexact. Like human language translations,
 concepts and specifications will differ in detail. This tool promises to be
 a very significant development in the trend towards practical open document
 standards and, critically, customer-friendly means to move between them. It
 can only be good for the IT industry's customers and product and service
 innovators," said Andrew Hopkirk, director of the U.K.'s National Computing
 Centre's e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) Programme. "As the
 UK's e-GIF Accreditation Authority and leading IT user membership
 organization, the National Computing Centre is very pleased to see that
 Microsoft's interoperability commitments are bearing fruit in this vital
 area and we congratulate them for that."
     Working With Industry Partners
     Microsoft is developing the translation tools in collaboration with the
 France-based IT solution provider Clever Age and several independent
 software vendors, including Aztecsoft in India and Dialogika in Germany. A
 prototype version of the first translator added to Word 2007 will be posted
 today on the open source software development Web site SourceForge
 (, under the open source
 Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license, where anyone can submit bugs
 and feedback or contribute to the project. The complete version of the Word
 translation tool is expected to be available free from the download site by
 the end of 2006, with add-ins for Excel and PowerPoint expected in 2007.
 Older versions of Office will have access to the translation tool via a
 free Compatibility Pack, which also provides free updates to enable Open
 XML format support.
     "OpenXML represents a paradigm shift not only in its architecture but
 also in the customer needs it serves, opening organizations' existing
 documents to take advantage of new content management and collaboration
 scenarios that weren't possible even as recently as a few years ago," said
 Frederic Bon, CEO of Clever Age. "Through the documentation Ecma
 International is creating and work such as the Open XML Translator project,
 customers will soon have the confidence that Open XML and ODF formats can
 coexist and new document scenarios will flourish. We are looking forward to
 working with the community of developers and businesses interested in XML
     Ongoing Commitment to Interoperability
     As demonstrated by the recent announcement of the Interoperability
 Customer Executive Council and the significant industry contributions to
 the Open XML file formats from leading institutions like the British
 Library and Apple Computer Inc. at Ecma International, Microsoft is
 broadening its long-term investments in and attention to interoperability
 across industries and platforms through such avenues as product design,
 collaboration agreements with other companies, standards and the effective
 licensing of its intellectual property. Additional information about
 Microsoft's customer-focused interoperability commitment, including an open
 letter titled "A Foundation for the New World of Documents" by Chris
 Capossela, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Business Division
 Product Management Group at Microsoft, may be found online at
     About Microsoft
     Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software,
 services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full
     NOTE: Microsoft, Excel and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks
 or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other
 countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may
 be the trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.