Next Step in Document Interoperability and Choice Delivered
Feb. 01, 2007
Customers benefit from open source Open XML Translator funded by Microsoft.

REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 1, 2007 — Developers of the open source project to produce a translator between OpenDocument format (ODF) and Open XML document formats announced the completion of the 1.0 release of the technology. The completed Open XML Translator enables conversion of documents from one format to the other and is available for anyone to download and use at no cost. When plugged into Microsoft® Office Word, for example, the Translator provides customers with the choice to open and save documents in ODF rather than the native Open XML format. The Translator may also be plugged into competing word processing programs that use ODF as the default format to open and save documents in Open XML. Microsoft Corp. announced its support for the open source project to build a technical bridge between Open XML and ODF in July 2006 to provide interoperability between formats. Since inception, it has remained among the 30 most active projects on SourceForge.net and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times.

This project, the standardization of Open XML in Ecma International and the ongoing standardization of Open XML in the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) help ensure that customers have a choice and that innovation can take place in these important technologies.

“We believe in delivering interoperability by design; in this case, by working with partners and members of the open source community we have achieved that goal,” said Tom Robertson, general manager for Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft. “The translator project has been built to be independent of any one application, and has proved to be useful for both Microsoft and our competitors in solving an interoperability challenge for customers.”

The 1.0 release of the Translator supports the current industry-standard document formats of both Open XML and ODF. It has been tested on Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2003 and Office XP and has been localized into Dutch, French, German and Polish. In addition, Novell has announced that the Translator will be natively implemented in its next version of OpenOffice.

“The translator project is the kind of support customers expect and deserve,” said Michele Balbi, president of Teorema Engineering Group, an IT system integrator in Italy. “It is especially heartening to see that parties involved are taking the extra steps to help ensure that the translation tools will work in European Union institutions’ day-to-day document processing scenarios. This allows a company like ours to integrate solutions more easily for the interoperability requirements of our international customers.”

The second phase of the translator project, including translators for Spreadsheet (Microsoft Office Excel®) and Presentation (Microsoft Office PowerPoint®), will begin in February. Regular customer technology previews will be posted to SourceForge.net beginning in May 2007, and the final versions are scheduled to be available for customers in November 2007. The Microsoft-funded translator project is being developed by French company CleverAge and Sonata Software Ltd. of India, and tested by Dialogika of Germany and India-based Aztecsoft Ltd. The project will continue to be open source, developed on SourceForge.net (http://sourceforge.net/projects/odf-converter) and freely available to all customers for development or use.

“Working on such a project with Microsoft in promoting interoperability is really exciting,” said Frederic Bon, CEO of CleverAge. “The company has a high standard and commitment for this project and its long-term goals. We will continue helping customers in benefiting from the use of Open XML standards in their applications.”

“The OpenXML Translator enables the global Microsoft Word user community at home and in companies, international organizations and government agencies alike to deal with today’s standard document formats in a highly flexible manner,” said Peter Auler, executive director of Dialogika. “Being an easy-to-install add-in, the converter integrates seamlessly in any standard Microsoft workstation environment, in so doing extending the reach of organizations in making services and publications accessible to an ever-growing world community.”

Customer Choice and Open XML’s Standardization

In addition to the translator project, Microsoft has promoted choice, community participation in the development of Open XML, and the development of the IT ecosystem through the standardization of Open XML. On Dec. 8, 2006, Ecma International voted to approve Ecma 376, making Open XML an industry standard. The format specification has been submitted by Ecma International for adoption under the ISO/IEC JTC 1 fast-track process.

There is widespread recognition of the value of Open XML, its standardization in Ecma and ISO/IEC, and the creation of the Translator. Customers can use the format that suits their needs, and the translators enable data in a document to be converted to the other format. The full power of XML-based formats can be realized, and innovation can take place in this important area for the benefit of customers.

Customers, partners and members of the open source community have spoken out in favor of the real interoperability offered by the Open XML Translator and support for ratification of Open XML by ISO. Many in the industry have spoken out in favor of the standardization of Open XML at http://openxmldeveloper.org/posts.aspx.

Microsoft Committed to Interoperability

The Open XML Translator is one among many interoperability projects Microsoft has undertaken. Microsoft continues to work with others in the industry to deliver products that are interoperable by design and provide access to its technologies through avenues such as the technical collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. for instant messaging interoperability, the creation of the Interoperability Vendor Alliance and the Interoperability Customer Executive Council, and the broad collaboration with Novell on virtualization, document formats and intellectual property.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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