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Microsoft to Support ODF via Plug-In

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the that's-nice-news dept.

269

Apache4857 writes "It appears that Microsoft has finally caved. BetaNews is reporting that Microsoft is sponsoring an open source project to enable conversion between Open XML in Office 2007 and OpenDocument formats. The project, hosted on Sourceforge.net, made its initial release today. The Word 2007 conversion utility is expected to ship ship by the end of 2006, and similarly conversion utilities for Excel and PowerPoint are expected early next year." See the announcement in Brian Jones' blog (Jones is the Microsoft program manager responsible for Office file formats).

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Embrace and Extend (3, Insightful)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666372)

I bet it will be just as useful as PNG alpha channel in MSIE.

Re:Embrace and Extend (1)

bsharitt (580506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666384)

Just out of off topic curiosity, do PNGs work in IE7?

Re:Embrace and Extend (1, Informative)

NickFitz (5849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666540)

Yes. [msdn.com]

Re:Embrace and Extend (3, Insightful)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666395)

Microsoft is _sponsoring_ the development in open source.

Not exactly the same.

I for once have faith in what they are gonna do.

They might just hear people and governments saying 'we don't take it anymore'.

Re:Embrace and Extend (4, Insightful)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666507)

They can just create enough caveats and special properties in the -internal- Office document structure that export to ODF will simply break the documents, or require painstakingly cautious convertion to some primitives. PNG IS supported in MSIE 6.0 fully, including alpha channel, but the implementation is so much pain in the neck for developers to implement in webpages, that they simply don't bother. (you need to create a style sheet including MSIE's 'filter' CSS extensions, and apply an 'alpha' filter to the image.)

Same can happen here - want to save ODF? Here's the microsoft way:

Pick "plugins" menu.
Open "plugin manager".
Open "active plugins tab".
Check checkbox by "ODF exporter plugin".
Click OK.
pick "export" menu.
click "export to plugin".
Are you sure you want to export the document to a plugin? Some document properties may be lost in the process." Click yes.
"Plugin export wizard".
"List of available plugins". Click ODF exporter.
Click next.
"What would you like to do with the file after export? Save to file, Send by Mail, Copy to Clipboard, Paste as new document" Pick "Save to file". Click Next.
"Where would you like to have the file saved?" - file selector. Pick file destination.
"Warning! Plugins contain 3rd party software which may append viruses and malware to your documents! Are you sure to proceed?" Click yes.
"The chosen plugin is covered by the following license:" (textarea - GNU). Do you agree? Pick "yes", click Next.
"MS Office is ready to export your document to a plugin. Click Finish to begin the export process." Click Finish.
A progressbar appears while the open source plugin actually processes the file. A moment later a requester "You have successfuly exported the document to a plugin. Click OK to return to MS Office."

Loading ODF document could look very similar.

Re:Embrace and Extend (5, Informative)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666589)

Installation

Double click the MSI file to install the Add-in for Word 2007.

If installation is successful, you should see a new "ODF" entry in the "File" menu in Word 2007. It allows you to either import an ODF text file or export your current working document as an ODF text file (note that during development process, those functionalities might be temporary unavailable).

Important note: The ODF file opened by the add-in is converted into Office OpenXML (Office 2007 new file format) and imported into Word as a read-only file. If you want to save it as ODF, you have to use the "Export as ODF" button and provide a new file name (that can be the same as the current file name).

Re:Embrace and Extend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666612)

I think you confuse it with OpenOffice. MS Office just works.

Re:Embrace and Extend (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666645)

No you are wrong.

OpenOffice saves as ODF just fine. ;-)

Re:Embrace and Extend (2, Interesting)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666673)

Try writing equations that take up half a page in MS Word. Example with a simple one: z=sqrt(x^2+y^2)/2

Equations in MS Word: Click 'basic' tab. Click "=". Click box left from "=". Type "y". Click fraction icon. Click box above fraction line. Click root tab. Click root symbol. Click below the inserted root symbol. Click "basic" tab. Click "+". Click left to "+". Click "upper index". In respective boxes type "x" and "2". Click right to "+". Repeat with "y" and "2". Click below the fraction bar. Type "2".

Same thing in OOo: Click textual entry box. Type: "z = { sqrt{ {x^2}+{y^2} } over {2} }" Click on the document.

Re:Embrace and Extend (3, Insightful)

zootm (850416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666719)

As much fun as comparing chalk to cheese is, some people prefer an equation editor where one does not have to learn a text syntax to use it, and some people prefer the efficiency of writing out in that text format. Parading one as "superior" to the other is an exercise in futility.

If you can do both in OOo (although I have OOo, I've never used the equation editor, preferring LaTeX, so I've no idea), that's a pretty neat feature. It's not a particularly huge one though, and not one which is particularly good for comparing the packages in general.

Re:Embrace and Extend (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666751)

OK, so which of these is easier now?

Re:Embrace and Extend (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666762)

Only faggots use other tools than LaTex for documents with equations.

Re:Embrace and Extend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666775)


That's not deliberate; Microsoft does *everything* that stupid. That's their idea of good interface design - 5 menus, 6 dialogs, and a dramatic pause to sign your life away to do one thing. And having to mash OK on "Are you sure?" for EVERY GODDAMN STUPID THING. Towards the end, I actually loaded up hex editors and simply removed are-you-sures from every program I encountered them in (half of which have no other way to turn them off). Now that I run real operating systems, I have all preferences set to "shut the hell up". I don't care if I told it to kill somebody; I never want to hear "Are you sure?" again.



Don't bother. I'm ignoring replies.


Re:Embrace and Extend (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666482)

I bet it will be just as useful as PNG alpha channel in MSIE.
Or SVG... oh.

Use the Source (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666541)

This is bollocks. The translator is BSD licensed, you just go there and fix it if necessary.

Embrace and Extend. Exactly, and co-opt! (1)

mollog (841386) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666623)

In a pig's eye, they've caved! They'll corrupt the specification is what will happen.

Don't expect Microsoft to ever, not ever, cooperate. Expect them to corrupt the 'specification'.

Re:Embrace and Extend. Exactly, and co-opt! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666711)

Interesting. The extra comma inverts the meaning of your sentence.

-- Granmah Notsy

Re:Embrace and Extend. Exactly, and co-opt! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666750)

So the open source developers will corrupt the specification?

Excellent news (4, Insightful)

Saunalainen (627977) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666385)

Now governments can mandate all documents be in ODF format without being accused of abandoning their disabled constituency, and Microsoft will have to compete on its features and performance rather than vendor lock-in.

Re:Excellent news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666434)

well no, any document you convert into ODF must by its nature lose its disability support as ODF is a POS that is perhaps one of the worst standards to come out of OSS community. I love OSS, but ODF should be left to die as it is an ill thought out dog of a standard.

Re:Excellent news (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666436)

Yeah, it's very hard avoiding such accusations when you got a company like Microsoft around.

Re:Excellent news (3, Insightful)

Krynus (14625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666458)

Unfortunately, that's not how it works in reality. Governments *might* mandate documents be in an open format, which Microsoft is (We made it XML! That's open, duh!). Nothing changes except it's slightly-less of a pain in the arse to deal with office documents now.

Everyone here needs understand: everything Microsoft does is about making more money. That's their responsibility to their stockholders. They have no reason whatsoever to expend above and beyond the baseline compatibility requirements.

I can assure you they won't care of ODF documents don't work quite right in Sharepoint.

Re:Excellent news (1)

DesertWolf0132 (718296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666655)

Which leads me to the question, is there an Open Source replacement for SharePoint? Replacing that would allow better functionality from ODF I would assume.

Re:Excellent news (1)

ennadaiit (837188) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666510)

This is good news for the present ODF tools since it gives them access to Office-07. And, this proves that MS acknowledges the significant presence of Office substitutes.

Another thing that bothers is - Does a system require Vista to run Office-07? If so, then I'd reckon it is a ploy to boost interest and sales for Vista. Vista has otherwise taken a lot of bashing for performing sluggishly and hogging memory.

That said, Viva Italia!!

Re:Excellent news (1)

nstlgc (945418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666549)

Another thing that bothers is - Does a system require Vista to run Office-07?
No, it will run just as well on Windows XP. Not sure about older versions of Windows...

Re:Excellent news (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666707)

Another good question is will we have to buy Office-07 to support ODF? It seems to me like the plugin will only work with Office-07. What about all the users of Office 97 onwards? Will they be stuck with not being able to read ODF documents, or not being able to convert their .doc files to ODF?

Give them a break. (4, Insightful)

orasio (188021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666767)

MSOffice97 was good enough for you when you bought it.
If your needs have changed it's only ok that you get a new version.

Of course, you could use OpenOffice 2.0, that works great indeed with MSOffice97 documents, and writes ODF natively.

Re:Excellent news (1)

brufar (926802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666820)

I do believe the article covered that..

Another cool piece of this is that it will also work in older versions of Office. This is because the tools leverage the Open XML support, and we're providing free updates to previous versions of Office that allow them to read and write Open XML. It's another great benefit of leveraging the Open XML formats for the tool.

What crack are you smoking? (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666770)

Microsoft office products actually do have more features than the open source alternatives. These features include but are not limited to the support for the visually impaired which you yourself so graciously posted. Don't pretend either that OO.o is not completely bloated just like MS Office products. It's a great product that I use every day, but let's not kid ourselves. I can't believe you got modded insightful. I guess anything anti-M$ gets applaud around here.

Bad news for Open Office (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666805)

Now, there's really no reason for anybody to use Open Office (or Star Office, or whatever they're called this week). MS Office will continue to be used almost exclusively because it can now handle any document, and of course, most of the outside world will still use MS Office documents.

Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666386)

We're at the Embrace part of:
Embrace, Extend, Extinguish
?

Let Me Be The First To Say (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666389)

Embrace
Extend
Extinguish

Re:Let Me Be The First To Say (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666792)

Your Fail It

its going to ship ship? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666402)

ship ship ship!

Re:its going to ship ship? (1)

smvp6459 (896580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666429)

No, no, no. The project is going to ship a ship. It's like sending the QE2 via UPS.

Doing pretty good until the end. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666403)

Microsoft notes that OpenDocument still has gaps that are being worked out by OASIS, such as spreadsheet formulas, macro support and support for accessibility options. Citing Open XML's accessibility features for disabled workers, file performance and support for integrating external XML data, Microsoft says ODF "focuses on more limited requirements."
"Accessibility options" and "disabled workers".

That's not the responsibility of the file format.

That's the responsibility of the app used to read/write that file format.

And with an Open standard for file formats, there's no reason that anyone could not write an app that did direct file-to-speech with no need for a visual display (as is currently the case).

Re:Doing pretty good until the end. (1)

mfaras (979322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666437)

OpenDocument still has gaps that are being worked out by OASIS
Do you mean Microsoft is going to work out the gaps for them? Like in MS-ODF ?
Hope not.

I don't like you embracing me and extending yourself over me, I'll call a working girl for that any time.

--
Being an independent programmer in a 3rd world country is no different than being a plumber

Re:Doing pretty good until the end. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666496)

I've got a reason that "anyone" could not write such an app. I lack the skillz.

Re:Doing pretty good until the end. (1)

19061969 (939279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666626)

I think the OP meant that any company with reasonably skilled coders could do the job without having to license the MS Office specs from MS at an exhorbitant price. For example, a charity might be able to commission a simple screen-reader for people with visual impairments - not paying the extra licensing fees would make this cheaper.

Re:Doing pretty good until the end. (5, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666534)

Not necessarily. For example, PostScript is a very bad format for distributing documents that are to be consumed in any other way than as a graphical document. A naively created PDF can be quite bad, a properly annotated one not so bad. HOW you represent the data is relevant. I would imagine that most formats that are suitable for further editing in a structured manner should be quite good from an accessibility standpoint as well, but you can certainly choose to code things like text flow in a manner that makes a good UI, but where the semantics are lost. The app can only present and persist what's allowed in the format.

DISCLAIMER: This is general obvious facts. I don't recommend the current or future MS Office XML formats as any example of how things should be done.

Re:Doing pretty good until the end. (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666580)

And with an Open standard for file formats, there's no reason that anyone could not write an app that did direct file-to-speech with no need for a visual display (as is currently the case).

Hog wash. This is the same kind of nonsense that people spout with a variety of complex software problem... "if you don't like it, why don't you write a patch / plug-in / whatever". Why? Because I am not a C / C++ / Perl guru. You people know very well that the VAST majority of application users out there are not software developers, and do not posses the skill set to write complex code. So, yes, there are many reasons that anyone could not write an app that did direct file-to-speech with no need for a visual display. To deny this is elitist.

Re:Doing pretty good until the end. (1)

ArtDent (83554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666787)

You totally missed his point. He doesn't mean that you're less of a person because you can't write such an application. He means that there's nothing about the document format itself that prevents you or anyone else from doing so.

Or so they SAY it'll do that... some day. (4, Insightful)

moochfish (822730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666405)

Well, at least the project is open source so other developers can take it and run with it. This version is not what the PR people would like you to believe. Check out this doozy of a quote from the sourceforge forum:

"With the first release (0.1 - prototype), you can only convert documents from ODF to OpenXML. This can be done either with the Word Add-in (which requires both .NET Framewok 2.0 and Word 2007) or through the command line tool, which only requires .NET framework 2.0. "

( http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?thread_id=1 531122&forum_id=579283 [sourceforge.net] )

Re:Or so they SAY it'll do that... some day. (4, Interesting)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666478)

The strangest aspect to me is the Open Document Foundation says they have a similar plug-in, but are very secretive about it and won't really give any details. Then MS just tosses on up on SourceForge for all to see. A bit of a role-reversal, but good for MS!

Re:Or so they SAY it'll do that... some day. (1)

castle (6163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666513)

I sense a PR machine being retooled, or maybe listened to more frequently.

Re:Or so they SAY it'll do that... some day. (1)

Conley Index (957833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666706)

MS could not stand the fact that the plug-in of the Open Document Foundation was so secretive. Thus, they bought it and released it as Open Source...

Re:Or so they SAY it'll do that... some day. (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666480)

Quit posting FUD. It's a prototype version 0.1.

Re:Or so they SAY it'll do that... some day. (1)

Lord of Hyphens (975895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666793)

Why the hell does a command-line tool require .NET 2.0, especially if it's just parsing a text file? Other than the obvious insanities, of course.

Heck, if the thing (OpenXML) was properly documented, one could just write a perl script to do the job.
And as someone who's worked with the Office2003 XML formats...would it have killed them to have it tabbed out at all?

And they also have a time machine! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666407)

From the project home page [sourceforge.net] :

In September 2006, Clever Age released an Open Source project that allowed to open OpenOffice.org documents (SXW files) in Word 2003.

September 2006, sure...

Demolition Man (-1, Flamebait)

The_Isle_of_Mark (713212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666418)

So it seems that Sly and Sandra bullock are making a sequel. Ship ship the thing thing. You have to have ball balls to try that. Nevermind, it is stupid.

Re:Demolition Man (1)

goonies (227194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666472)

...and we will finally find out what the three sea shells were for!

It was out love that did it! (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666420)

A spokesperson for Microsoft was quoted as saying "Well...we weren't going to do it at first. But then the gang over at /. asked us too, and we just can't say no to those guys after all the love they've shown us in the past."

-Eric

Re:It was out love that did it! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666603)

Actually, I heard that Rob made nice [slashdot.org] with a top female exec over in La La land.

What good is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666428)

... if it does not ship with the plug-in by default? I doubt most users will even know to install it, let alone be aware of its existence.

Re:What good is it... (3, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666491)

"There will be a menu item in the Office applications that will point people to the downloads for XPS, PDF, and now ODF" Looks like it won't be too hard to get if there is a menu item for it. People who want it can find it. And for the folks that are really asking for it (government, etc.) they can just put it in their image or their distribution of the Office install to make sure it is there.

Re:What good is it... (1)

mario64 (573112) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666754)

But most people will just stick with the standard that Microsoft as default. Once enough people are using their standard it will become THE standard (they hope).

For a full in-depth article on the announcment see Groklaw
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200607060 64747376 [groklaw.net]

Just one day after... (3, Interesting)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666438)

...SoftMaker's Dr. Martin Sommer states [slashdot.org] that an ODF plugin for MS Office would hinder acceptance of alternative office suites. Then all of a sudden, MS is throwing in their support for an independant project that had started a few weeks earlier.

Re:Just one day after... (1)

aquabat (724032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666722)

Man, I can't believe that ploy actually worked :).

Re:Just one day after... (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666790)

ODF plugin for MS Office would hinder acceptance of alternative office suites

Meh, so what? If this plugin truly enables us alternative-office-suite-users to have better compatibility with those who cling to MS Office, so be it. At least they'll be able to view/edit our documents with less headaches.

I'm more concerned about the file format (ODF) than the suite itself (OO.o, Abiword, etc.)

Isn't their XML format open anyway? (1)

astralbat (828541) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666441)

Great! Now we can see conversions from open document format to XML as well. I think this is of more interest to governments that individuals - although I'd be using this myself and pushing ODF where I work.

Re:Isn't their XML format open anyway? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666583)

ODF is XML. [wikipedia.org] ODF is XML. [oasis-open.org]

There, say it with me now...

ODF is XML. [openoffice.org] ODF is XML. [eweek.com]

And when I want to use Open Source Software that reads Office files and saves them as ODF [openoffice.org] , well, I already do sue that.

When the cat's away ... (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666449)

The mice will play. Mysteriously, the blog link is a 404. I'm sure it was just a typo :) Kind of interesting timing, as Bill goes off to spend billions of someone else's dollars and now has to deal with packing as much as possible into PC's that will ship to developing countries .. all of a sudden an about face.

Not sure if this is him realizing just how difficult a lack of interoperability was making things in the real world, or his way of saying "Folks, I'm really (honestly) hands off now, see?"

So ... on the list of probably wont happen ... :

[21] hell freezes over
.
.
[24] MS Supporting ODF plug-in
.
.
[28] Cheney on TV without makeup

Well, progress, anyway.

What about existing versions of Office? (3, Insightful)

DesertWolf0132 (718296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666464)

So when does the conversion utility for versions of Office people actually have come out? I have yet to find anyone who already owns a version of Office that is looking to upgrade. There are no features in the newest versions worth the pricetag. They claim OpenXML is THE reason to upgrade but with Open Document being availible without the insane pricetag there has been no real reason to upgrade. I still run 2003 on my work systems (only because the retards here already had it when I was hired and no one wants to try OpenOffice.org) and I would LOVE to convert all of our documents so when I finally make the switch on everyone to OO it will be that much easier. Once more governments move to Open Document standards getting OO adopted here will be a snap.

Re:What about existing versions of Office? (1, Interesting)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666543)

If OpenXML is standardized like Microsoft wants, and there is still no accessibility capable ODF products available, MS Office could end up winning by default anywhere with accessibility laws on the books. That is exactly the reason governments are asking for ODF support. They want to use the ODF format, but want to use Microsoft Office to satisfy their legal obligations. They could end up using OpenXML and MS Office if OpenXML becomes a standard.

Re:What about existing versions of Office? (1)

DesertWolf0132 (718296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666763)

The thing is, the accessibility features are actually a feature set of Windows, not Office. To test I just pulled up OO and then used Narrator from the Accessibility menu to read me some text I typed in. You lose none of the accessibility features with ODF as long as you use an OS with those features. There are better features out there than wht is included with Windows but those are from third parties and have nothing to do with Office.

Not as convenient as native support (4, Interesting)

Raphael (18701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666467)

This add-in is certainly a step in the right direction. But opening and saving files with this add-in is not as convenient as if the format was supported natively.

Here is an example of the problems that the users will face when using it (from the project home page [sourceforge.net] ):

Important note: The ODF file opened by the add-in is converted into Office OpenXML (Office 2007 new file format) and imported into Word as a read-only file. If you want to save it as ODF, you have to use the "Export as ODF" button and provide a new file name (that can be the same as the current file name).

Basically, this add-in will encourage you to convert your ODF documents to OpenXML, but if you really insist and if you really want to save (sorry, export) as ODF, then it will let you do that as well. You will just have to re-type or re-select the file name.

Re:Not as convenient as native support (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666638)

Yes, it's certainly not very polished. It's almost like it's a 0.1 Alpha release or something.

Caved? Hardly! (5, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666473)

Microsoft has not caved as TFA says. Now they can compete in new markets where they were being gradually squeezed out. Now organizations can say that they support open standards while still using Microsoft Office. I am sure that they will do a half-hearted job of supporting ODF, and people will grow frustrated with how "limited" it is compared to the native XML file type. They will not realize that only Microsoft's implementation is limited. As a result they might start using the latter for things that are saved locally, undermining ODF efforts.

Re:Caved? Hardly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666525)

I am sure that they will do a half-hearted job of supporting ODF, and people will grow frustrated with how "limited" it is compared to the native XML file type.

Than get the hands out of yer ass and send them (the project) patches ...or fork... or flame them in their mailing list...

Re:Caved? Hardly! (1)

2starr (202647) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666753)

Exactly. The idea is to be able to fulfill a checkbox item. Now they can say they support open formats so customers feel all warm and fuzzy. Why in a plugin if they're going to do it anyway? Because people just expect plugins to be flakier. So, when it doesn't fully work, you just blame the plugin. So, customers stick with native Word format because it works better but feel all warm and fuzzy inside because they (think they) could use ODF if they wanted to.

I've had it with Microsoft (2, Funny)

Live_in_Dayton (805960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666476)

If they do this, I'm not going to buy Office 2007. I don't want my office "productivity" suite cluttered up with a lot of extra options on how to do things. I want Microsoft to tell me! Long live .doc, the one true format.

why plugin (1)

Enquest (579041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666492)

Hmmm, seems the will make people install a plugin that will be hard to find. So home users still won't be able to see ODF documents and won't understand how to install the plugin. Microsoft still hates it that they are losing the battle... Well people they still could install OpenOffice.org.

Obligatory Russian Reverse (3, Funny)

gnarlin (696263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666497)

In Soviet Russia Microsoft suppor.... Oh, wait!?

Re:Obligatory Russian Reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666649)

You got it wrong, it should have been: in Soviet Russia, ODF converts YOU!

PS: never mind, also in Soviet Russia wrong gets YOU!

Hipocratica (1)

orbitor (166566) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666518)

I don't usually jump on this band wagon, but this statement:

Nobody wants a format that's constantly changing

just adds to the idea that all of these people are so brain washed that they are actually doing something that will benefit users, that they can not but help spouting the virtues of the company line at every opportunity.

I would appreciate someone just being honest with themselves for a change. Something like "That brouhaha in Massachusetts gave us a scare and we think that we had better support this ODF format or we might loose alot of government business. Geez, an open file format, why didn't we think of that?"

Taking bets... (3, Insightful)

dbarclay10 (70443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666538)

Okay, I'm taking bets on them doing this as part of a typical "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, Extort" cycle. I give 2:1 odds on Microsoft producing ODF documents that just don't work right, or are horribly buggy. The import will lose all sorts of formatting and similar such things.

Anybody? :)

Re:Taking bets... (4, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666669)

Well, since the project is BSD licensed, what's to stop you from fixing it?

Re:Taking bets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666718)

I give 2:1 odds on Microsoft producing ODF documents that just don't work right, or are horribly buggy. The import will lose all sorts of formatting and similar such things.

Hmmmm, what part of "Open Source" don't you understand?

From the article:
The Open XML Translator project will be hosted on SourceForge.net, and is available under the BSD open source license.

They are providing the source code for this plug-in, hosted on SourceForge and available to all who would examine, patch, modify, etc. Now they can play any games they want, but people will be able to figure out fixes for any underhandedness.

Now that doesn't necessarily mean they will play fair; I fully expect to see deliberate extensions to MS .doc formats that cannot be supported under ODF and used by default whenever Word is used to do ANY editing. This will simply piss off customers who demanded ODF support in the first place and, with source for the plug-in available, anybody can examnine the file structure of offending MS files and determine exactly what they did to screw it up. There can't be any more finger-pointing at other vendors.

Microsoft at it again - (0)

no-body (127863) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666554)

total bull!
it's a cancerous disease
read groklaw

Re:Microsoft at it again - (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666618)

You might have a point
You made one small mistake though
Should be 5-7-5

Why is this important? (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666555)

Several reasons:
  1. Microsoft has finally realized it cannot fight against the Linux trend. Even if Linux is not ready for the desktop -- which is debatable -- free [beer|speech] software is now good enough to replace at least part of Windows and/or Office on the desktop.
  2. Microsoft now openly acknowledges -- through this decision -- that they don't control the market, but that they are forced to bow to the pressure of their clients. This is pretty much unprecedented, as Microsoft, through FUD and VaporWare, used to control its clients, and not the other way around.

All in all, this is very good news for Open Source, and a chink in the mighty Microsoft FUD machine...

Top Execs Leave? (2, Interesting)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666559)

Is it just a coincidence that MSFT joins the Open Source community and adopts ODF after some of their top [slashdot.org] execs [slashdot.org] say they're leaving? Perhaps there was a movement within that these top execs didn't like?

Clarifications (3, Interesting)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666567)

It's a plugin for Word, it's not a separate conversion utility as the article implies.

It can't handle manual page breaks it seems. Once I get OpenOffice.org on here to verify, I'm submitting their first bug report. :)

The default install directory seems to indicate this is a third-party tool, not an MS tool.

It doesn't add file types to the default Open/Save dialogs (the ideal solution). Instead, you import and export the files with their own dialogs. This also means hitting File/Save when you have an ODF file open will open up a save as dialog fro DOCX only.

Re:Clarifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666607)

It's a plugin for Word, it's not a separate conversion utility as the article implies.

Yes it is, but in a separate package (command line tool).
It can't handle manual page breaks it seems. Once I get OpenOffice.org on here to verify, I'm submitting their first bug report. :)

Yeah that's only a prototype...

Clarification to Clarifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666617)

It is actually both - there is a plug-in, and there is a command-line utility for conversion. Nice.

Re: manual page breaks, come on, it is a 0.1 release.

Re:Clarifications (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666806)

I just wish OO.o 2 would open my OO.o 1 files. I had to uninstall and then reinstall the older version. I expect this from M$, but from Open Office?

I remain a bit more optimistic (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666593)

While other people repeat the "embrace, extent, extinguish, extort, exume" prophecy, I see reasons not to make that assumption about Microsoft.

For one, it has received a lot of attention in the mainstream press about delays in delivery of Vista and the next release of Office. Further, there has been a lot of significant changes in the heirarchy of Microsoft. Couple that with their loosing streak against political and business pressures, suggests that they should change and adapt or face catastrophy.

They CAN compete on the basis of merit. Many of their people still remember how and those who can't could be quickly replaced with fresh blood I'm sure. And the momentum is still in Microsoft's favor. If it means admins across the world have to roll out plugins instead of new office suites, which do you think they would be more inclined to do?

Now will Microsoft break the standard in some way they way they perist in doing with CSS? It remains to be seen, but it's an open source project so I'm doubting it... "the people" won't stand for anything less than perfect and will keep workin in that direction.

Re:I remain a bit more optimistic (0)

krray (605395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666782)

While other people repeat the "embrace, extent, extinguish, extort, exume" prophecy, I see reasons not to make that assumption about Microsoft.

Sorry, I've got 20 years of experience that tells me differently.

I also admin Windows boxes along with BSD, Linux, and my favorite: the Mac's.

I'll openly admit I'm also a Un*x freak (my favorite hat today is "got root?" -- yesteryear it was a Redhat red hat :). With that said -- I've had a lot of time to compare the differences in the various OS' -- and frankly I still miss Netware and OS/2. Too bad BeOS didn't take off either. In comparing all the flavors it is IMHO that Windows is simply fundamentally flawed. The reasons why are for another type of debate.

I also find it interesting to watch the industry as a whole and note that there is in one corner Microsoft with Windows. Then there's IBM with Linux/AIX (Un*x), Novell is going with Suse Linux (Un*x), Redhat is Linux (Un*x), Apple is Darwin/BSD (Un*x), Sun is Un*x, so on and so forth.

Good riddance to Microsoft is what I say... I've honestly not been too impressed with anything out of Redmond since WFW-3.11... Watching what they've done with "standards" over the years -- and buying out companies to butcher good products -- not to mention the games with the OEMS and paying the 'Windows tax' ... and yes, all my Windows are paid for, yet WGA has gotten in my way in a few cases (since removed, and no longer using WindowsUpdate).

I simply don't trust them in any way, shape, or form.

If it means admins across the world have to roll out plugins instead of new office suites, which do you think they would be more inclined to do?

Sorry, you lose. OpenOffice it is... In a heartbeat.

Less fear on this one (1)

John Jamieson (890438) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666599)

Since it will be an open source project on Source Forge, I am not very fearfull about some big plot to embrace, extend and Extinguish(it can be forked or whatever). I think MS really needs this plug in to gain sales in the long term. There are many places that will adopt ODF where there will be individuals and departments that are MS fans. Now they can come up with some reason that they have to have MS Office and cut the cheque themselves.

Here at work I am encouraging the switch to ODF, and plugin's like this will allow MS to keep playing for all our desktops, even if we switch to ODF.

WGA? (0, Offtopic)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666605)

Will the download require the install of WGA to make it work?

Not that I care, I don't use M$office anyway.

Re:WGA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15666665)

I think your keyboard must be broken. The s key is right in between a and d, not between 3 and 5.

One Word (0)

spykemail (983593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666647)

One word my friends: owned.

Too late! Support for older Office suites? (3, Insightful)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666688)

We need this plugin for Office 2000, XP etc too. No-one is going to upgrade to 2007's DRM hell to read ODF.

it's not "our" fault (1)

stoove (981303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666701)

In my eyes the move here is to lift a weight of the developers at Microsoft. And if something goes wrong it is still possible to arrange the arguments in a way that they don't come back to MS.

Everybody thinks it's so great.. (2, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666756)

but what they are actually are going to do is create a broken implementation of ODF and then point and say: see see see, while some OSS developer is going to create another plugin that does it all perfectly but breaks with every Office update. They are going to be sued for some pennies for not opening up their documentation and maintaining their monopoly. We've seen it over and over again with HTML, Java, Novell and it's going to happen again.

BTW: their current conversion tool doesn't work for certain features (manual page break) which is NOT a compatibility issue. It's obviously broken by design.

I for one am not impressed and do NOT welcome our ODF-importing overlords.

Microsoft can't afford to not play the Game... (1)

celotil (972236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666759)

Microsoft will do whatever it takes to stay in the Game, and they'll cheat, lie and steal to stay on top of the Game - a.l.a. embrace, extend, and extinguish.

If you don't know what the Game is, then you're not just not a competitor, you're not even a spectator.

BSD license = good! (2, Interesting)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666785)

Well I was amazed to see no one had commented on their choice of LICENSE yet. It's interesting to see what MS would choose as a license in their foray into the OSS world. I would have been really surprised if they'd chosen GPL, because of obvious ethical conflicts, but I don't think I quite expected them to choose BSD.

This is significant, because it means developers are free to take the code and do what they want with it. For instance, how many people actually have Word 2007? With the BSD license someone could back-port it to previous versions...

It also implies that MS can't get away with "embrace and extend", because whatever they choose to do, someone will come along and create a custom version with the cruft removed. Consequently, I expect they just won't bother to put any in the first place. (Well, maybe that's wishful thinking.)

Additionally, if this plugin integrates badly with Word, making it difficult or non-obvious for people to use, or doesn't adequately convert certain features that it could probably handle better, someone is free to come along and improve it!

Even if the MS project doesn't accept people's suggestions and changes, the BSD license ensures that anyone is free to fork it and release their own version.

So: The fact that they chose the BSD license is a really important detail here.. very interesting move.

And the reason was ... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666811)

Belium and Massachusetts. Software is developed by a Frech, an Indian and a German company.

Sound like Europe has become the fighter of freedom of the people. I also like the quote on this Flemish site [datanews.be] that Microsoft Tom Robertson sayd that they noticed that cusomers did not want homogenity, but diversity.

Darn, the cat has not even left the house and the mice are already dancing.

PR Stunt (3, Informative)

a_karbon_devel_005 (733886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15666817)

First off, plugins like this were going to arise anyway. Look at (http://sourceforge.net/projects/aodl). This is a conversion program started in 2005. MS has just decided it would like to be "officially, but not too officially" in charge of it.

Interesting comments in the blog:

While we still aren't seeing a strong demand for ODF support from our corporate or consumer customers, it's now a bit different with governments. We've had some governments request that we help build solutions so that can use ODF for certain situations...

From my understanding this is more along the lines of "certain governments in all situations." But, hell, MS can probably win those markets back with an Open Office that supports ODF in some way, but as a plugin MS can blame the standard or the plugin writers (who are working on an Open project, remember, not a MS one!). Which brings us to:

Nobody wants a format that's constantly changing, so if you do decide to extend the format like OpenOffice did, what happens when ODF 2.0 comes out and it specifies that feature differently from how OpenOffice did it?

A little late to ask these questions isn't it? Why not just go to the OASIS site (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php? wg_abbrev=odf-adoption) become a member, and get the standards set for the stuff you need? Oh. Because you really don't care, you're just doing "lip DIS-service" to ODF by pointing out the problems that all standards run into.

If Microsoft had gone to OASIS and said "Look we really love this ODF stuff, but to interoperate properly with Office, it would have to support feature X, Y and Z, at least in theory" it would have happened for SURE. However, they were betting that once MS said "hey we won't support ODF" then the "turncoat" governmental offices that had demanded ODF would say "oh... well... poo" and go back to Office.
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