Next Office Edition to Default to XML
June 2, 2005 2 Comments
We're all quick to bash Microsoft when they do something silly, so we should also pay attention when they do something good. I was happy when I saw an article entitled “Microsoft Ends Era Of Closed File Formats”. Could it be true, I thought?? Are they finally starting to get it? I read the announcement, but there's not too much detail in there. So I started digging around. In the end I think this is, unfortunately, being a little bit over-hyped. There is some good though: Word, Excel, and Powerpoint will get a new file format all based on XML. The new file format is actually enclosed in a ZIP file. Change the extension name to .ZIP and you'll be able to double-click and get access to all the pieces of the new format. The new file format will be usable on existing versions of Office (all the way back to '97) and the format will be document and available gratis. So far, so good. The bad news? First, one has to wonder if this patent will come into play here. I hope not. If they wanted true interoperability, wouldn't they have adopted the OASIS standard? I think they want to appeal to all the large corporations and Governments who are demanding open formats, while still retaining a lot of control over that format. Additionally, reading the FAQ, it looks like the license is completely incompatible with the GPL. Once again, this really seems like something we'll have to wait out and keep a close eye on to see how it plays out. One thing is for sure though, the importance of open document formats can no longer be denied.