Microsoft Adopts XML for Next Office

The open standard for Web documents will be the default file format for the next version of Microsoft Office.

Microsoft yesterday announced that industry-standard Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology will be adopted for the default file formats in the next version of the company’s Office suite, currently code-named "Office 12."

The new file formats, called Microsoft Office Open XML Formats, will be the defaults for the Office 12 versions of Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which are expected to be released in the second half of 2006.

The adoption of XML is part of Bill Gates' "New World of Work" vision of improving business productivity with converged technologies, collaborative applications and integration of open standards. The file format is already the basis for Microsoft InfoPath, an XML client that helps organizations collect data through rich, dynamic forms.

The new Office Open XML format promises to bring smoother data interoperability, better security, improved error recovery and dramatically reduced file sizes, according to Microsoft. And because it is an open standard, XML documents can be created and edited in any application—not just Microsoft Office—with support for it.

"Customers have asked us for improved file and data management; improved interoperability; and open, royalty-free, published file format specifications—without sacrificing backward compatibility," said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Office at Microsoft. "We're confident that by adopting XML-based default file formats, we are delivering the tools that will help IT professionals address these challenges, while enabling developers to integrate Office even further into their customized solutions."

Microsoft will release more details about the new XML formats at its TechEd 2005 conference next week in Orlando, Fla, and online at, beginning Monday, June 6.

About the Author

Dan Hong is the associate Web editor of,,, and


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