Waltham (MA) - A new advancement for Office clones was reached today, as Novell and Microsoft announced that OpenOffice will receive support for the Open XML platform, a file format developed by Microsoft for the upcoming Office 2007 suite.
The recently announced collaboration between Novell and Microsoft paves the way into a new era where Microsoft’s file format isn’t exclusive to its own products anymore. Novell said that it will support the Office Open XML (OOXML) and will release the code to integrate the format into its own products as open source as well as submit it for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project.
According to the company, this move will increase the interoperability between OpenOffice.org and the next generation of Microsoft’s Office software, improving the way formats, formulas and style templates across the two office productivity suites are maintained. OpenOffice relies on the XML-based OpenDocument format (ODF) as its default format. Microsoft has developed OOXML as a competing format for ODF, but recently has confirmed to include ODF support through a downloadable software-bridge in Office 2007. Not too long ago, it seemed that ODF and OOXML support may develop into a either-or solution in various software packages as Microsoft earlier this year said it would not support ODF and OOXML support in software other than Microsoft Office was rather unlikely. Now it appears that ODF and OOXML will be included in a variety of productivity software offerings that - besides OpenOffice and Office 2007 - also includes Corel’s WordPerfect Office suite.
In a prepared statement, Novell CTO Nat Friedman said that "Novell supports the OpenDocument format as the default file format in OpenOffice.org because it provides customer choice and flexibility, but interoperability with Microsoft Office has also been critical to the success of OpenOffice.org." He added that "OpenOffice.org is very important to Novell, and as our customers deploy Linux desktops across their organizations, they’re telling us that sharing documents between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office is a must-have. The addition of Open XML support reflects Novell’s commitment to providing enterprise customers the tools they need to be successful, from the desktop to the data center."
Microsoft will use OOXML as the standard file format in Office 2007. The format’s specifications were finalized in October of this year and will be presented to Ecma General Assembly approval on December 7, 2006, with the intention to offer the specification for formal ISO/JTC1 standardization.
The open source Open XML/ODF Translator project is hosted on Sourceforge and can be viewed here.