Over the next three months, Microsoft will be releasing new and updated translators designed to aid customers who want interoperability between Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) and other document formats, including Open Document Format (ODF).
On December 4, Microsoft began rolling out three new translators that it plans to make available this month: A 1.1 update of its translator for Word; an Open XML spreadsheet translator and a presentation translator.
Additionally, in February 2008, Microsoft will deliver the final version of its translator designed to provide interoperability between the Chinese-government backed Uniform Office Format (UOF) file format and OOXML.
Microsoft announced the creation of the SourceForge-hosted Open Translation Project in July 2006. At that time, the Softies said the translator-focused initiatve was started "in response to government requests for interoperability with ODF because they work with constituent groups that use that format."
Vijay Rajagopalan, a Microsoft Principal Architect, provided the update on the OOXML-ODF translation work during the XML 2007 conference on Decmeber 4.
During the XML 2007 interoperability panel -- sponsored by Microsoft and of which Rajagopalan was a part -- the ongoing battles that have raged for the past couple of years between Microsoft and the backers of ODF were a mere sidenote.
Miguel de Icaza, Novell Vice President of Developer Platforms, said at the outset of his remarks on OOXML and ODF interop that he was not going to get into the corporate politics surrounding the two formats. De Icaza noted that Novell supports both OOXML and ODF via its use of Open Office.
"In 2006, there was lots of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about the problems behind OOXML and it went downhill from there," de Icaza said.
De Icaza said Novell's major issue around the dueling file formats was "there is no one-to-one mapping" between them. There are features in ODF, like Page Styles, which have no equivalent in OOXML.
"Neither group (Microsoft nor the ODF camp) is willing to make the big changes required for real compatibility," de Icaza said. Even though ODF plug-ins exist for Microsoft Office, there's still a big question around whether Microsoft should/will integrate this functionality into a future version of Office.
"We need Microsoft's (ODF interoperability) commitment to go beyond 1.0," he said.
Objection over the size of Microsoft's and the ODF's file-format specs is a red herring, de Icaza said. What's really needed is more developers who are building applications using OOXML and ODF to offer critiques of what does/doesn't work, in terms of interoperability.
There's no end in sight to the ongoing disputes between the two file-format camps, de Icaza said.
"Sadly, there is a lot of money at stake here," de Icaza concluded.