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24 May 2009, 08:07

ODF Alliance dissatisfied with MS Office 2007

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Microsoft believes that with Service Pack 2, released in late April, it has taught Office 2007 how to handle files in the ISO standard OpenDocument format. But the ODF Alliance complains in a fact sheetPDF that not only is support insufficient, documents created are also incompatible with other ODF-supporting applications.

One criticism made by the ODF Alliance, which would like to see the OpenDocument format used as widely as possible, is that MS Office can't natively open a password-protected ODF file; Instead of asking for a password, it says straight away that it can't open it.

The ODF Alliance adds that MS Office doesn't evaluate the tracked changes that can be stored in ODF documents so, after an ODF document has been imported, the Microsoft functions whose results might, for example, be shown in the Word 2007 revision window invariably find nothing.

On other points, the Alliance report takes the same line as the criticism expressed by IBM's ODF specialist, Rob Weir, who reported earlier that the formulas in spreadsheet tables, which OpenOffice, for one, encodes in its current version as specified by the draft standard ODF 1.2, were not correctly processed in MS Office 2007, and that Microsoft explicitly refers to the published standard ODF 1.1, which contains no specification for storing formulas.

The ODF Alliance interprets these points as indicating that Microsoft has no real interest in the seamless exchange of ODF documents across the boundaries separating different software worlds. This, says the Alliance, is also demonstrated by Microsoft's failure to meet earlier promises of adding ODF support to MS Office 2003, with the result that users of that suite who are interested in ODF are forced either to upgrade to Office 2007 or to use the Sun Plug-In 3.0 for MS Office. The ODF Alliance doesn't regard the latter as a long-term solution – probably because, in order to parse ODF documents, the plug-in installs an almost complete OpenOffice as well as the host application, using up a corresponding amount of resources.


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