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04 December 2008, 17:51

Firefox add-on displays Word 2007 documents

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Developed in co-operation with Microsoft and released as open source, the OpenXML Document Viewer extension for Firefox translates Word 2007 documents saved in the Open XML format into HTML for direct display in the web browser. While fonts, formatting, images, tables, hyperlinks and diagrams can be converted, the original layout does not necessarily get preserved, as some technical elements might not translate into HTML code. The plug-in is still in its early development and currently only works with Firefox 3 for Windows and Linux. A Mac version and a plug-in for Opera are to follow by mid 2009. Surprisingly, there is currently no mention of an add-on for Internet Explorer.

The Open XML/ODF Translator, which was first introduced in February 2007 and translates Open XML documents into the OpenDocument format, has now been released in version 2.5. It works as a command-line tool but can also be integrated directly into the versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint included in Office 2003, XP and 2007. Version 2.5 reportedly supports ODF 1.1, the standard format used by OpenOffice 3.0 and StarOffice 9. This allows Writer, Calc and Impress documents to be opened directly in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft plans to incorporate the converter into its Office 2007 suite with Service Pack 2, which will allow Word, Excel and PowerPoint to handle OpenDocument files by default. However, Service Pack 2 is only scheduled for release next year.

Microsoft's Firefox add-on is licensed under the Microsoft Public License, whereas the OpenXML/OpenDocument Translator is under a BSD-like license.

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