Microsoft Offers Timetable For Open XML Support In Office For Mac

Facing headlines such as "Use MS Office On A Mac? You're About To Get Screwed," Microsoft's Mac development team accused some bloggers of trying more to "inflame than inform," and reiterated the company's intention to provide free converters. Microsoft, however, clarified the timing of the release.

Open XML, which Microsoft has submitted to an international standards body, is a new file format in Office 2007. The business versions of the office productivity suite and Windows Vista were launched last month. Consumer versions of both product are set for release in January.

Without the converters, Open XML documents opened in Office for Mac 2004 are garbled and unusable. Microsoft developer Sheridan Jones said the Mac team had to wait until Office 2007 and the new file format were "locked down" before beginning the work. The free public beta version of the file converters is set for release in spring 2007.

The final version would be available six to eight weeks after the launch of the next version of Office for Mac, which is expected six to eight months after the launch of the Windows version of Office 2007. "The next version of Office for Mac will natively read the Open XML format; users of the current version of Office will have converters in order to maintain compatibility with the new Office for Windows," Jones said.

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