Big Interoperability Announcement

I'm traveling right now and don't have a lot of time to go really deep on this, but today's interoperability announcement is great for Microsoft for a lot of reasons. Gray Knowlton posted on this today, it's a great read if you want to understand how Office and file formats are affected.

Here's an excerpt from Gray's post that is pretty important:

"The change should also underscore the idea that support for Open XML is not the same as opposition to other standards, despite many claims to this effect. Different formats are a means to achieving specific types of work, and interested communities exist to offer support for them. Today's commitment creates new opportunities to use many document formats in Office, and will allow people a greater ability to choose the formats that best suit their specific needs. This is good for our customers, but it's good for our business, too; adding these interfaces makes a lot of sense."

This is a good step forward for us. I hope this gives us more of a chance to work with various technology and user groups, being more open should help folks who want to work with Office. 

Comments (22)
  1. Today Microsoft made a substantive announcement about interoperability and I’d like to discuss the elements

  2. Martin R says:

    Stop empty talks: Move your ass and support ODF.

  3. says:

    So Martin, do you really feel like that’s the big missing piece here? If Microsoft supports ODF then everything is solved? I’m not sure that ODF has proved to be highly interoperable even across forks of the same implementation (OpenOffice and Lotus Symphony).

    If you look at this announcement though, you’ll see that this isn’t just about ODF, Open XML, UOF, or HTML, it’s much bigger than that. Interoperability is a complex issue, and simply "supporting ODF" does not solve it.


  4. Hi Brian,

    I’ve casually looked through the document on Microsoft’s site and it stuck out to me (and the BBC news folks) that Microsoft’s covenant only covers non-commercial open source.

    As I explained on my blog, given that the open source definition prohibits restrictions on fields of endeavor, there can be no such thing as non-commercial open source, so the covenant appear to be worthless, as it covers something that doesn’t exist.

    Could you please take care that the non-commercial bit disappears, and the set of covered developers is no longer empty?

  5. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    Brian, no offence but this is backwards.

    If by "huge change" you mean the ability to add your own file format name in the Save As dialog box, then pardon me but this is just two hours of work for the Office team.

    The way it would work is, if the Save As applies to the current document, is to provide COM API access to the consumer of such interface, but then the consumer has to write against the COM object model, quirks and limitations, which cements even further the non-XML part of Microsoft Office.

    Have I missed something obvious?

    Instead, I would have preferred that the XML in OOXML was more interoperable by design, meaning that when a date is stored in an Office document (word, excel, powerpoint) is the same date system regardless the application on the one hand, and supports existing ISO standards on the other hand. Would that be hard work? Sure. A hell of hard work given the extent of the format.

    See, that would even help the .NET developer crowd (Office 14 and beyond), since the .NET System.DateTime type does not match any of the dates stored in files.

    In other words, to get consistent dates, you have to use the COM object model, which in turn abstracts it away. Again, this is backwards, if the goal is to "open up" and move to XML. Assuming the move to XML means no need to run Microsoft Office instances, that objective would fail.

    That’s IMHO the only meaningful way to make a dent in interoperability across platforms and applications, way more believable than just throwing press pass.

    My 2 cents.

    PS : A date for Office 2009 beta 1?

  6. Stephane Rodriguez says:

    Speaking of interoperability, when will you consider documenting (or at least mentioning) the following file formats :

    – Office theme (.thmx)

    – Chart template (.crtx)

    I have seen those files over the last few months, and I am quite surprised that those files and the underlying file formats (OPC based) are not mentioned anywhere.

    How is that?

    What is the full list of Office 2007 file formats?

  7. Rob Brown says:

    Hi Brian,

    I think that the European Commission’s response to the announcement is pretty spot-on. We’ve heard it all before, and we’ll believe it when we see it. Microsoft has been an anti-competitive, abusive monopoly for too long for an announcement and a fundamentally flawed ISO standard application to change people’s minds.

    In a couple of years, if Microsoft has really changed its behaviour, it will be accepted and the IT landscape will be much better. Until then, I’m afraid that you are going to have to accept big doses of skepticism in response to announcements like this.

  8. skc says:

    Rob, I’m not sure the EU’s response really matters either way. Usage or non-usage of the documentation will determine just how open MS is becoming or not becoming.

    Developers will descide this battle. Not politicians (thank God)

  9. Rob Brown says:

    skc, I wish I shared your optimism! I’m afraid that developers are sharing the "battleground" with not just politicians, but also far too many lawyers and market strategists at this point. Only time will tell whether this announcement is a big deal or not.

  10. .NetBlogger says:

    Microsoft anunció la estratégia de Interoperabilidad mas importante de su historia, aunque Microsoft

  11. JohnFlux says:

    A commitment to be allow implmentations of the protocols under a license that is only for non-commercial use and is incompatible with the most used open source licenses.

    Typical Microsoft, and typical Brian Jones.

  12. I have been reading on the Interop annoucement and its awesome. One of the things that really interested

  13. I have been reading on the Interop annoucement and its awesome. One of the things that really interested

  14. Robertlilly says:

    And you guys think it is cool calling it Office Open and not confusing. Change it already if you respect other peoples property and rights. Dont u have any dignity.

    Yet every day you sending out hundreds of C&D when folks use a logo of MS, or any little thing which might infringe and ussally not to protect your rights.

  15. BluesClues says:

    Robertlilly, please do not use or imply "Open Office" as equivalent to "". "Open Office" is a registered trademark of a party that has nothing to do with either of "" or "Office Open XML".

    For that matter, "" and "Office Open XML" sound sufficiently distinct to my ear.

  16. BluesClues says:

    im, and what experience with file formats and standartization does Google have on its resume? >:)

  17. Dave S. says:

    @BluesClues – Funny. I could tell the difference between MikeRoweSoft and Microsoft, but the Microsoft management who piled on the lawyers could not.

    What happened to your other ear?

  18. BluesClues says:

    Mistakes happen? At least this one was settled out of court:

  19. I’m sure many folks have seen the news by now that Open XML has been approved as an ISO/IEC standard

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