Microsoft to add support for ODF and PDF in Office

Don't you just want to roll your eyes? True, it is a good thing that Microsoft is finally adding support for ODF and Adobe PDF to its Office suite. At least, that's the news the company is expected to announce Wednesday. But after all the torture that

Microsoft put the International Standards Organization through to get its competing document format protocol, Office Open XML (OOXML), accepted as a fast-tracked standard, this move could very well make OOXML moot. Truly, Microsoft could have saved the world the headache and simply supported ODF (and maybe even PDF) a long time ago.

Of course, we'll see if this announcement precedes any more whammies from the European Commission, which has repeatedly hammered Microsoft for its lack of interoperability with other companies' products. Microsoft's last jaw-dropping announcement -- that it was publishing many of its previously closed protocols -- came right before the EC slapped Microsoft with a $1.3B fine. Earlier this month, Microsoft began a petition to have the fine waived. The decision to support these other file formats could be an effort to win favor from the EC for that petition.

Support for ODF and PDF will be included via the Office Service Pack 2, expected to be out in the first half of 2009, according to a confidential Microsoft press release viewed by the IDG News Service. The IDG News Service story reports:

Specifically, the service pack will add file-format support for PDF 1.5, PDF/A and ODF v1.1, as well as XPS (XML Paper Specification). XPS is a similar format to PDF created by Microsoft to rival Adobe's popular document-exchange file format. ... Until now, Microsoft has never said it would natively support ODF, promoting support through software that translates documents between Office file formats and ODF.

To be fair, there was a time when Microsoft had wanted to add PDF to Office 2007. But Adobe, the owner of the specification at the time, blocked Microsoft from doing so. Adobe has since turned over PDF to ISO as an open standard.

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