In my coverage of primary Office 12 apps defaulting to XML file formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx) I didn't have the scoop on Mac Office 12. Here's what's happening according to Rick Schaut, who should know...
Just in case you're wondering about the story with Mac Office 12, Mac Office 12 will support the new file formats as well. Also, as with Win Office, we'll be producing converters for Office X and Office 2004. Some details have yet to be fully finalized, but we expect to ship converters that will provide full round-trip support for the new file formats in Office X and Office 2004.
For us in Mac BU, this represents an enormous undertaking on two fronts. Win Office is already well ahead of Mac Office in terms of support for XML, and the state of XML parsing on Panther is, well, less than desirable (among other things, the version of libXML that ships on Panther doesn't support SAX 2.0's namespace changes).
The other is that, for the first time in the history of Office, we're attempting to ship a major architectural change that's being simultaneously implemented by both the Windows and Macintosh groups as separate business units. This means that Mac Office 12 will ship some time after Win Office 12, however I'm not at liberty to discuss projected ship dates or the currently planned delta between Win Office 12 and Mac Office 12.
Those of you who are interested in this from a software engineering point of view, the process is really rather simple. Since the Win Office team already has a lead in the development work, we in Mac Office will take snapshots of their code and integrate those snapshots into our code base. With the exception of a few minor details and any bug fixes unique to the Mac platform (almost all of which, I guarantee, will involve byte-sex issues), the code that supports the new file format will be virtually identical between the various Win Office and Mac Office applications. The challenge is interesting enough, that I might even end up writing a white paper on the topic. We'll see.
I'm intimately involved with this effort as far as Mac Word is concerned. As both time and public information restrictions permit, I'll try to keep people informed. At this time, I can tell you that Mac Word 12 currently speaks XML almost as well as Win Word 2003. I can't speak for either Excel or PowerPoint.