New plugin bridges gap between Office, ODF

Just as Mass. asks for a way to read and write open format in Office, OpenOffice developers deliver.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

A day after Massachusetts issued a request for information for a plug-in that would allow Microsoft Office to read and write Open Document Format files, a group of OpenOffice.org developers have announced a plug-in that does just that, News.com reports.

"The ODF Plugin installs on the file menu as a natural and transparent part of the 'open,' 'save,' and 'save as' sequences. As far as end users and other application add-ons are concerned, ODF Plugin renders ODF documents as if (they) were native to MS Office," according to [developer Gary] Edwards.

While such a plug-in greatly eases Massachusetts' conversion to ODF, it's also a positive thing for Microsoft, which doesn't plan to support ODF in the next version of Office, said analyst Stephen O'Grady.

"To the extent that you get people authoring documents in a format that is natively compatible with OpenDocument, that's an important first step over the long term" to migrating people to OpenDocument-based applications, O'Grady said.

On the other hand, the OpenDocument plug-in could keep people from adopting software built by any of Microsoft Office's competitors. People who want to save documents in ODF can now use Microsoft Office, rather than OpenOffice or other Office alternatives. "It's potentially a very positive thing for Microsoft," O'Grady said.

Edwards said he intends to answer Massachusetts' RFI and that the state test his software.

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