Office 12 moves to more XML

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In Office 12 the new OfficeML default document formats will be revised to include ZIP compression to make the documents smaller.

The news about the next version of Office, aka Office 12, continues even though the release is probably a year away.

Unlike most of these announcements, this one has some substance and it looks like good news. Therefore it deserves to get some coverage here in Office Watch.

In Office 2003 you have the choice of a native document format for Word and Excel – the .doc and .xls that we’re long used to. There is also the little used OfficeML formats – an XML version of the document formats.

In Office 12 those OfficeML formats will be revised to include ZIP compression to make the documents smaller than the current OfficeML formats and also the native formats. In theory this means you won’t have to worry about compressing a document before emailing it – the document itself will already be compressed.

OfficeML in Office 12 will be the default document format. Of course you’ll be able to open documents created with earlier versions of Office and Microsoft has said it will release a filter so Office 2003 and earlier versions will be able to open the new OfficeML format.

For many people this change will go largely unnoticed unless you do a mass conversion of existing documents and there is a significant disk space saving.

But if OfficeML lives up to expectations (and that’s always a big if with Redmond product promises) then we could see a new range of document extendibility and compatibility.

While I would not go so far as to say this is ‘exciting’ news (as Microsoft is wont to say) it certainly is interesting for all sorts of reasons. So much so that we’ll devote much of an upcoming Office Watch to this announcement. That’s once we’ve read all the announcements in depth and peppered Microsoft with questions .


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