Microsoft embraces OpenDocument

Due to pressure from government agencies, Microsoft has decided to embrace the OpenDocument format by sponsoring an open source cross-compatibility project for Office 2007. Hosted on SourceForge the project already offers an "ODF Add-in" that gives Microsoft Word 2007 the ability to open and save OpenDocument files. The plug-in's source code is available under the BSD license, meaning third parties are free to release both open- and closed-source derivative works provided a copyright notice crediting the original authors is included. According to BetaNews, ODF plug-ins for Excel 2007 and PowerPoint 2007 will follow "early next year." This time frame is identical to Microsoft's new official release schedule for the retail version of Office 2007.

The OpenDocument format is an open, XML-based document specification that supports text, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and other formats. Over the past few months, it has drawn the attention of government agencies seeking interoperable file formats. Last September, for instance, the state of Massachusetts announced plans to transition entirely to open formats like ODF and PDF by January 1, 2007.

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