Microsoft To Support ODF In Office 2007 SP2

However, Microsoft won't add native support for Office Open XML (OOXML), its own document format for Office 2007 that the International Standards Organization (ISO) ratified in March, until the next major update to Office, known as Office 14.

Microsoft has yet to publicly comment on the Office 14 release timetable, but there has been speculation that it could arrive in the first half of 2009.

As part of Microsoft's ongoing push to cozy up to the open source community, the software giant said it will continue to participate in the Open XML-ODF translator project on Office 2007 SP2 will also add support for Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and XML Paper Specification (XPS).

In positioning OOXML as an open standard, Microsoft has said it designed OOXML to be backward compatible with the content and functionality in billions of existing documents, which fulfills an important area of need for customers.

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But open source advocates claim that OOXML is Microsoft's attempt to protect its Office monopoly from competing file formats, and some have railed against OOXML's complicated coding structure, which reportedly includes over 6,000 pages, compared to 860 pages of code for ODF.

Andy Williams, principal at Professional Computing Solutions in Thorsby, Ala., isn't used by many small business clients using the ODF file format, but says Microsoft's addition of support could be attractive to larger businesses.

"The main reason behind Microsoft adding ODF support is likely to increase compatibility, due to the growing set of options for Office," said Williams.

On Thursday, the European Commission, which in January started an antitrust investigation into Office, said it plans an investigation to determine whether Microsoft's announced support of ODF will actually lead to more interoperability for consumers.