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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Microsoft Office,XML, OASIS OpenOffice XML formats

(Via Betanews) The Microsoft Office Open XML formats , will be out by the second half of 2006 with Office 12 and constitute a dramatic upgrade to Office and a broad extension of Microsoft's XML strategy - without the direction of standards bodies. While outlining some of the advantages of the change, Microsoft referred to the formats as being compact and robust by design. Integrated ZIP compression reduces the file size by up to 50 percent and files are broken down even further into a modular file structure that will make data recovery more successful and enhance security. The new format has a built-in facility that can automatically detect damage, segmenting files into components that can be managed and repaired independently. Security gets enhanced here as potentially dangerous code or sensitive content such as metadata can be stripped out by the content's owner. Microsoft faciltates partners to build utilities to inspect the XML. As a consequence of being XML-based, the interoperability capabilities of Office have risen dramatically. Applications and systems such as databases can access the content of documents and spreadsheets for queries or data entry, making those processes autonomous and virtually hands free.
To critics asking why the OpenOffice.org XML formats standardized with OASIS weren't used., Jean Paoli provides the reply:
"We have legacy here," Jean Paoli, Senior Microsoft XML Architect,says adding,"It is our responsibility to our users to provide a full fidelity format. We didn't see any alternative; believe me we thought about it. Without backward compatibility we would have other problems." "Yes this is proprietary and not defined by a standards body, but it can be used by and interoperable with others. They don't need Microsoft software to read and write. It is not an open standard but an open format," Paoli explained.
The design needs to be different because we have 400 million legacy users. Moving 400 million users to XML is a complex problem." Paoli predicts that the formats will generate an ecosystem around Office and create opportunities for ISVs and developers. It's a really remarkable thing that the most used Office productivity suite is wholeheartedly embracing open formats and XML.

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