Documents and Interoperability
This has already been a busy month in Europe for Microsoft cooperating with competitors to ensure that different software products can work better with each other.
Last week, Microsoft participated in an OpenOffice conference in Italy, including a “plugfest” to test different products using the document format ODF. And this week, in Brussels, experts working with different document formats joined a roundtable event at Microsoft’s offices to discuss how to improve interoperability between the formats.
We have hosted such events before, for example in the UK, France and Germany earlier this year, when open source developers and others visited Microsoft facilities to discuss such interoperability topics. But I don’t remember any previous OpenOffice conference in Europe when a Microsoft person was invited to speak. It is good to see such collaboration, and my colleague Doug Mahugh reports that he was welcomed there.
We’ve become accustomed to a marketplace where customers expect competition, but also expect products from competing vendors to function well together. In some cases, to make competing products work well, a considerable amount of engineering effort is required, especially when some of the necessary technology is complex and continues to evolve. That is the case with interoperability between word processing programs, as all vendors use both older formats (like the .doc format) and newer ones that are still changing (including ODF and OpenXML).
Microsoft already uses the ODF and Open XML formats, along with a variety of older ones. As the industry moves forward, document interoperability between products using these newer formats will improve, as competitors continue to collaborate for the common interest like they have been this month.
Posted by Mark Lange, Senior Policy Counsel