Microsoft’s ODF Support Falls Short

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From: ODF Alliance

ODF Alliance Finds Substantial Improvements Needed for Real-World Interoperability

The OpenDocument Format (ODF) Alliance today cautioned that serious deficiencies in Microsoft’s support for ODF needed to be addressed to ensure greater interoperability with other ODF-supporting software.

“Support for ODF represents an important and ongoing test of Microsoft’s commitment to real-world interoperability,” said ODF Alliance managing director Marino Marcich. “Unfortunately, serious shortcomings have been identified in Microsoft’s support for ODF. Putting potentially millions of ODF files into circulation that are non-interoperable and incompatible with the ODF support provided by other vendors is a recipe for fragmentation.”

On April 28, 2009, Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Office 2007 which provided users the ability to open and save ODF files. However, an initial round of testing of Microsoft’s support for ODF in Office 2007 (see analysis at link) has revealed serious shortcomings that, left unaddressed, would break the open standards based interoperability that the marketplace, especially governments, is demanding.

“A number of basic interoperability tests between Microsoft Office 2007 and various ODF-supporting software suites revealed that the level of interoperability is far short of what governments around the world are demanding,” said Marcich. “For example, even the most basic spreadsheet functions, such as adding the numbers contained in two cells, were simply stripped in an ODF file when opened and re-saved in Microsoft Office 2007. A document created in one ODF-supporting application, when re-saved in Microsoft Office 2007, rendered differently — missing bullets, page numbers, charts and other objects, changed fonts — making collaboration on an ODF file with Office 2007 very difficult. Indeed, some of the so-called ‘plug-ins’ were revealed to provide better support for ODF than the recently released Microsoft Office 2007 SP2. This is no way to achieve the interoperability around ODF that the marketplace is demanding.”

“Tracked changes are essential to document collaboration, and formulas are the essence of spreadsheets. Microsoft’s failure to support either in SP2 is revealing with regard to its support for real-world interoperability,” added Marcich. “Given the shortcomings in Microsoft’s support for ODF, governments need to continue to demand that Microsoft implement support in a manner that plays well with the software of other vendors.” Despite these concerns, Marcich cited the growing interest in ODF. “The intense, widespread interest in Microsoft’s support for ODF suggests the public debate over document formats is not about to end anytime soon,” concluded Marcich. “What is clear is that the era of public information being locked in a closed format requiring the public to purchase a particular brand of software is rapidly coming to a close, thanks in no small measure to the courage and foresight of leading ODF-supporting governments that have been willing to take a stand on this important public-policy issue.”

About the ODF Alliance:

The OpenDocument Format Alliance is an organization of governments, academic institutions, non-government organizations and industry dedicated to educating policy makers, IT administrators and the public on the benefits and opportunities of ODF.


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