Office goes au naturel with ODF


A couple of weeks ago, Becta were reported as saying that pupils’ learning would be harmed if Office didn’t support Open Document Format (ODF). So hopefully they’ll be smiling this morning, now that we’ve announced that Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will provide native support for ODF.

Now, don’t get me started on whether I agree with Becta’s statement about pupils’ learning , because I don’t really think that students have as much difficulty with software as we adults do! But back onto the subject…

WordSaveAsMenuYou can already save files from Office 2007 in 20 different formats – of which, my favourite three are:

  • Office Open XML – which is the new standard format for Office files, and I use most often because it automatically understands all the fancy new stuff in Office 2007 – like SmartArt & the improved picture formatting in PowerPoint.
  • Office 2003 format – which I use to share files with people using older versions of Office. And some people can’t read these files because their desktop Windows is so locked down that they can’t install the Office update, which is a free download for Office 2000/XP/2003 to open these files.
  • PDF – just a couple of times, I’ve saved documents in PDF format – mainly Word documents. Whilst I know other people publish their PowerPoint presentations as PDFs, I don’t do it. It’s more open to share the native PowerPoint files so that you can use & modify them yourself. It’s always a bit frustrating when somebody else’s brilliant slide is only available as a PDF image…


There’s already a convertor to convert files between Open XML and ODF – we’ve worked with the SourceForge.net community to make this available. And a free plug-in for Office 2007 which adds the “Save as PDF” option to the menu.

What’s been announced today is that the Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will have native support for Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1, PDF & XML Paper Specifications (XPS), when it is released in the first half of 2009.

This is all part of working more closely with the interoperability groups who are working on interoperability between document file formats – like the DAISY format for accessible publishing (DAISY blog post)– and with organisations like the Interop Vendor Alliance (website).

I guess you’re asking yourself what this means for you and your school? Well, if you’re keen to use ODF, you’ll get a menu item next year that will add “Save as ODF” (and until then you can use the other ways above). So if your students don’t have MS Office at home, they can read the files with another application - but as Open Office & Google Apps already support .doc format, you’ll probably not need it in many circumstances.

Of course, if your students don’t have Office at home, then perhaps you might want to let them know about our education partners (Software4Students, RM and Pugh), that offer discounted prices specifically for students, which brings the cost of Office 2007 down to under £36.

There’s more detail of this announcement on our PressPass site

Comments (1)

  1. arichards says:

    While it is nice to see this addition to an already superb package, though I really do think you are setting your standards slightly too high if you expect BECTA to be ‘smiling’.

    I am sure they will find some other section of Microsoft to have a dig at for no apparent reason.

    I have just moved School, but in my last one we used Office 2007 from its release to no detriment of the student learning, in fact I would go so far as to say it was enhanced by Office 2007’s superb feature set.

    May I be as bold to say BECTA may be slightly out of touch with the people who actually run education IT.

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