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Novell's OpenOffice to Deliver Office 2007 Compatibility

On the heels of its landmark cooperative deal with Microsoft, Novell Inc. announced this week that its edition of the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite will offer support for Microsoft's Office Open XML format by the time the consumer release of Office 2007 ships at the end of January.

The move is a key first step agreed to by Microsoft and Waltham, Mass.-based Novell in last month’s landmark agreement. At the announcement on November 2, Novell executives said they would work to make Office work with their implementation of the OpenOffice.org suite. (See "Microsoft's Novell Deal -- What’s It All About," November 3, 2006.)

"Novell is cooperating with Microsoft and others on a project to create bi-directional open source translators for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office, with the word processing translator to be available first, by the end of January 2007," Novell said in a statement on its Web site.

The translators will be available as plug-ins to the Novell OpenOffice.org suite. Additionally, Novell will release the code as open source and will submit it to OpenOffice.org for inclusion in the project. Another key area the two companies are collaborating on is providing interoperability between their rival virtualization platforms. In addition, Microsoft declared a no-sue patent covenant for developers who work on non-commercial projects involving Novell’s SuSE Linux.

Meanwhile, critics of the deal Novell made with Microsoft responded harshly to the latest announcement. "If there are any Novell supporters left, here's something else to put in your pipe and smoke it ... Novell is forking OpenOffice.org.," said a posting on the Groklaw Web site. "I am guessing this will be the only OpenOffice.org covered by the 'patent agreement' with Microsoft... So, while Novell may call this ‘Novell OpenOffice.org' I feel free to call it ‘Sellout Linux OpenOffice.org,'" the post continued.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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