This is good news – Microsoft is officially backing an add-in for Office 2007 that adds support for OpenDocument. As you may be aware, OpenDocument is the ISO-approved XML-based document format used in OpenOffice.org and other suites, however, with Office 2007 Microsoft also launched its own Office XML format, which is another XML-based document format that is seeking ECMA approval. Microsoft have stuck by their own format and tried to play down OpenDocument, refusing to support it in Office 2007.
This is an apparent u-turn on Microsoft’s part. Though Office 2007 will still ship without OpenDocument support, there will be a Microsoft-backed add-in that will enable users to open and save OpenDocument files and convert them to and from the Office XML format.
What’s more, the tool is open source and released under the BSD license. Right now it’ll only work with Word 2007, but it should also support PowerPoint and Excel in future – whether it’ll work with previous versions of Office is unclear.
There has been pressure for Microsoft to support OpenDocument, especially from governmental organisations such as the State of Massachusetts, and there have been efforts on the part of at least two organisations to integrate the format into Office. But this is the first time that Microsoft has formally backed one.