Office support for document format standards

If you're an Office 2007 user, the image above probably looks pretty familiar. But look close, and you'll see some Save-As options you've not seen before here: OpenDocument, and (unless you have the existing add-in) PDF & XPS.

This is a screen shot of a pre-release copy of SP2 (Service Pack 2) for the 2007 Microsoft Office System, showing the new document format standards that we'll be supporting starting with SP2. We've made an announcement of this and several related things today, and you can get all the details in the press release, and watch for additional perspective that will be provided by Gray Knowlton and Jason Matusow on their blogs today. I'll provide a few details here on our technical goals in implementing ODF, the planned user experience, and a few aspects that I think will be of particular interest to developers.

It's exciting to be announcing built-in support for these standards, but I think it's worth noting that this isn't a new direction for Office, but rather the continuation of a long tradition of adding support for additional formats. Office supports a variety of document formats, including the legacy binary formats, the Office Open XML formats, HTML, RTF, text, and many others. Support for multiple document formats provides many benefits to Office users, including the ability to choose the format that best meets each customer’s needs, whether those needs are interoperability, archiving, performance, or standards support. The addition of built-in ODF, PDF and XPS support are logical steps to address the evolving needs of Office users.

ODF, PDF and XPS as built-in file formats. We're making these new formats work just like the other formats Office supports, in a seamless and integrated fashion. When you click the Save As Type dropdown, for instance, you'll see a list which includes ODT, PDF and XPS in the same list where you'll find DOCX, DOC, and many other formats.

And of course users can set ODF to be the default format if they wish, the same way they would for other Word, Excel or PowerPoint formats.

What about the SourceForge translator projects? Microsoft has helped launch open-source translators on SourceForge that can be used for translating between Open XML formats and ODF, UOF or DAISY XML formats. We will continue to invest in these projects, because they enable scenarios that our built-in ODF support in Office doesn't address.

For example, the XSLTs from the SourceForge translator projects can be used by developers working on any platform, in any language. This provides many benefits:

  • The translators have been used to enable interoperability on multiple platforms, including Novell (SUSE Linux) and Ubuntu redistributions

  • The translators enable domain-specific heterogeneous scenarios, such as batch processing through a command-line interface and web service/mail server/portal integration scenarios.

  • The open-source XSLT architecture provides fundamental mapping information between ODF and Open XML that is useful for implementers.

  • The ODF translator project will continue to enable ODF read/write in Office XP and Office 2003.
There is new information today about the planned release of v2.0 of the ODF translator on the ODF translator team blog. The SourceForge translator projects will continue to move forward, and Microsoft will continue to be an active participant in these projects.

Third-party translators. We anticipate that some developers may want to take over the default ODF load and save paths, so that they can plug in their own translators for ODF, and we'll be providing an API in SP2 that enables this scenario. This means that if a developer disagrees with the details of our approach and would like to implement ODF for Office in a different way, they're free to do so and can set it up such that when a user opens an ODT attached to an email or from their desktop, it will be loaded through their ODF code path.

That's a first look at what we're planning for ODF support in Office, and of course we'll have much more to say as we get closer to the release of SP2. In the meantime, I'm very interested in what other developers and implementers feel is most important in our support of ODF and other standards. How can we work together to improve document format interoperability for the Microsoft Office system? What can we do better?

Comments (28)
  1. Clearly the Press Announcement today from Microsoft will bring about another wave of discourse on the

  2. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said this , and how many times when I’ve been told that Microsoft

  3. orcmid says:

    I learned about this through a comment-notification e-mail from a European blog.  I rushed to my feed reader to get the latest news, and there are a raft of reports on this announcement.

    Even before I saw your post, I noticed I couldn’t stop from grinning.  I think this is great news.  There’s a tremendous amount to be learned here, and I am happy to see the prospect for greater community around open format standards and implementations.

    Good job!  Congratulations.  And color me grinning.

  4. mat says:

    Is there any chance, that the Mac Office Vesion will get ODF support too?

  5. John Head says:

    Great news Doug, and glad to be part of the press release. That was me speaking, not some marketing-crafted quote folks. I truly believe this is what is best for the customer. With all the the bickering of the ODF vs OOXML battle, I think many forgot who we are all working for.

    Now, get OOXML updated ASAP, ok? 🙂

  6. A picture is worth a thousand words. 🙂 Congrats to our friends in the Office client product groups

  7. Earlier today, the Office team announced that Microsoft will expand the range of formats supported in

  8. Today, Microsoft announced support for more document format standards, including ODF, PDF, and XPS. Doug

  9. I took a few weeks off recently, which is why my blog has been fairly inactive the past month. I wanted

  10. Interesting commentary from Microsoft’s Jason Matusow and Doug Mahugh, and IBM’s Bob Sutor on today’s announcement that Microsoft will support read/write to ODF 1.1 in Office 2007 SP2. Jason writes: "For years, I have vocally disagreed with the notion

  11. W^L+ says:

    Great news, Doug. In the mean time, is there any chance of getting rid of the annoying warning when using Sun’s plugin?

  12. Wayne says:

    What can you do better? Optimize the damned thing. Office keeps getting slower and slower. Yes, computers have gotten faster (my first computer was a Timex Sinclair with 2K of RAM) but Office 2003 (we aren’t upgrading until Windows 7 comes out) takes a long time to open. I did a comparison against an old laptop (P233 Toshiba running NT and 128 Megs of ram) and it’s way faster than my year old desktop with 2 gigs and an AMD64 something or other chip.

    As a programmer myself, I can think of half a dozen things you could do to fix this. Considering your manpower, you should be able to do this easily.

  13. Formatele de documente ODF 1.1 (utilizate în OpenOffice sau Symphony) vor fi suportate (read-write) în

  14. No reason anymore to mandate anything but ODF

  15. marc says:

    Good news, Brian

    Congratulations.  I hope that this be a sincerely effort toward openness and fair competition , and not just a "hey, guys [brian to office developers], just put a new icon in the save as dialog and call the Clever Age stuff when some clicks on it" … but a really *native* support aimed to achieve fidelity and interoperability in office documents formats ( the ODF TC guys are working toward test cases , reference implementations , etc, so, keep in touch there :-).

    But for now, again, congratulations

  16. Uwe Brauer says:


    it is not entirely clear to me, but does this mean Office will

    also support *opening* ODF files?

  17. Great news Doug.

    I missed this yesterday, as I was watching the Manchester United vs Chelsea Champions League final, so haven’t had chance to read the all the other reactions.

    I hope this does not become another case of "no good deed goes unpunished", where this is spun into some kind of dark strategy where any bona fide bug in this functionality is seen as some kind of insidious plot to undermine it.

    The razors of Occam and Hanlon/Heinlein seem to be seldom used in these parts.

    I was faintly amused by the "ODF gas pedal just got slammed to the floor" quote from Bob Sutor, since we just completed the annual survey of our user base regarding what new features we should be putting in our products.

    Not surprisingly, there was only a single request for ODF.  This was the same customer that requested it over two years ago.

    Now I admit, we have a very Excel-centric user base, but since almost every company in the Fortune 500 uses our product somewhere to get data into their spreadsheet of choice, ODF still has some way to go before being a feature we can burn development time on.

    Maybe we can leverage Office 2007 or the surrounding translator technologies to import and export it for us "on the cheap"!

    A great achievement in moving forward and cementing Microsoft’s commitment to standards by deeds, and hopefully there will be a less combative atmosphere with the ODF guys in future.

    I am now awaiting the (inevitable?) news of Symphony’s support for the Open XML standard, or did I miss it watching football? (Soccer).


  18. richlv says:

    minor typo – Ubunto -> Ubuntu

    well, and to be pedantic, it’s SUSE (all caps) for some time now 😉

  19. Doug Mahugh says:

    Yes, Uwe, Office will support opening and saving ODF files.  The PDF/XPS support is save-only, because those are fixed-layout publishing formats.

    Gareth, I’m awaiting that news too!

    richlv, thanks for the corrections, which I’ve made above.

  20. Gray Knowlton had a great post yesterday laying out more of the details on the "Save as ODF" functionality

  21. Vous en rêviez, Microsoft l’a fait ! Pour une fois, je pense que l’on n’est pas loin de la vérité, à

  22. Did’ya see dat! I am pretty exited about these developments , As soon as these this is out I want to

  23. says:

    Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will support more file formats

  24. Andre says:

    "The company said the next edition of Office—Office 2007, now expected early next year—will include menu options for XML, ODF and Adobe Systems’ PDF formats. The ODF support would include Office’s three main formats, namely Word, Excel and PowerPoint."

    IDG, 6 Jul, 2006 Steven Schwankert


  25. Luc Bollen says:

    Doug, when you said "Microsoft would not implement the *final* ISO version of OOXML until Office 14 ships", does that mean that Microsoft will not tweak Office 2007 at all in SP2 to support the changes introduced by the BRM in OOXML *Transitional* ?

    I’m surprised that you used the word *final*, rather than being specific about *Transitional* and *Strict* versions of ISO OOXML.  This introduced some ambiguity and confusion, and some bloggers even commented that Microsoft is simply dropping long term commitment to OOXML.

    Could you please be more specific about the planned support of ISO OOXML Transitional and ISO OOXML Strict in both Office 2007 SP2 and Office 14 ?  

    Several bloggers also commented that the final ISO OOXML text is still crippled with inaccuracies and problems (e.g., and that serious maintenance is needed before the text can be correctly implemented.  Does this played a role is Microsoft decision to postpone implementation of the "final ISO version of OOXML" until Office 14 ?

  26. Luc Bollen says:

    Doug,  any information to share with us about

    – the planned support of ISO OOXML Transitional and ISO OOXML Strict in both Office 2007 SP2 and Office 14 ?

    – the possible impact of ISO OOXML text inaccuracies and problems on Microsoft decision to postpone implementation ?

  27. says:

    Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) will support more file formats

  28. Doug Mahugh says:

    For those of us on the Office Interoperability team, as well as our colleagues throughout Office, today

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