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Document Interoperability Initiative Unveiled by Microsoft

Microsoft yesterday kicked off its plan to set up labs around the world to test the interoperability of various document formats, including Microsoft's Open Office XML (OOXML) format as well as the Open Document Format (ODF) originally developed by Sun Microsystems.

The plan is called the "Document Interoperability Initiative," part of Microsoft's general "Interoperability Principles" announced last month. Microsoft now states that it plans to offer open protocols and open APIs to developers working with Microsoft's "high-volume products." Those products include Microsoft Exchange 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007, the .NET Framework, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Vista.

Microsoft plans to collaborate with various ISVs on the document interoperability initiative, which will have its first lab in Cambridge. The ISV participants will be DataViz, Mark Logic Corp., Novell, Nuance Communications and Quickoffice.

The initial lab work will examine document format interoperability on the iPhone operating system, Linux, Mac OS X Leopard, Palm OS, Symbian OS and Windows Mobile.

Other labs will be hosted in Seoul, South Korea (in the week of March 10) and Berlin (in early April).

Complementing its interoperability initiative announcement, Microsoft released version 1.1 of a translator for ODF and OOXML that works with Office applications such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.

OOXML is the XML format used as the basis of the Microsoft Office 2007 productivity suite, which features a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation app.

ODF is used in similar productivity suites that are typically open source solutions, unlike Microsoft Office. Examples of open source ODF-based productivity suites include IBM Lotus Symphony, KOffice and Sun's OpenOffice.org.

ODF was developed under an OASIS technical committee and published as an open ISO/IEC international standard. Microsoft's OOXML has had a more controversial ride. It was ratified as Ecma 376, but OOXML has not yet achieved International Standard status, and it was voted down by the Joint ISO/IEC Technical Committee in September of last year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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