News

Microsoft Extends Office 2013 File Format Support to Open XML

Office 2013 will have increased file format support, including the support promised years ago with the Open XML standard, Microsoft revealed this week.

According to a blog post on Monday by Jim Thatcher, principal program manager lead for Office standards, Office 2013 will support "Strict Open XML and Transitional Open XML," "ISO 32000 (PDF)" and "OASIS ODF [OpenDocument Format] 1.2" at release.

Many may feel a bit sleepy on the mentioning of standards support, but it wasn't too long ago that Microsoft's efforts to push its proprietary document format scheme as an international standard drew cries of foul from other big players in the IT space, such as IBM, a supporter of the alternative ODF approach. ODF is an earlier approved international standard for document formats that's used in various productivity suites, such as OpenOffice.org (which was picked up by Oracle and is now supervised as an Apache open source project) and IBM's own Lotus Symphony, among others.

The standardization of document formats became an important issue as the world moved toward saving documents in electronic file formats. Governments and other institutions need file formats that will last, and can't rely on the shifting fortunes of proprietary software companies. But that circumstance didn't stave off a major fight among software companies. Standards expert Andy Updegrove described Microsoft's full Open XML support announcement as bringing "closure to a seven year long epic battle between some of the largest technology companies in the world."

The ODF Alliance, an advocacy group for the ODF standard, claimed that more than 80 percent of resolutions proposed during the standards ratification process for Open XML weren't even discussed. Microsoft's Office Open XML had been fast-tracked for approval or rejection, but there were plenty of complaints that the ratification process had skirted ISO/IEC rules, including delayed publication (the standard eventually was published in November 2008). Moreover, even when the standard was released, not even Microsoft fully supported it with Office 2010. That suite used so-called "transitional Open XML," which didn't allow files to be saved in the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 standard format.

Thatcher claims that it was the ISO/IEC organization that created the dual "strict" and "transitional" Open XML standards. The strict version does not rely on Microsoft-specific data types, he explained. He said that Office 2013 now "provides full support for both variants of Open XML."

Office 2013 also supports ODF version 1.2, including Open Formula support in Excel 2013 and support for XML advanced electronic signatures (xAdES). xAdES is a World Wide Web Consortium effort to ensure the authentication of digital signatures.

Microsoft plans to introduce a new feature in Office 2013 called "PDF reflow," which will let users open PDF files as "editable Office documents," according to Thatcher. It's not designed to replace Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat, though, he emphasized.

"The goal is not to make Word into a PDF reader or PDF editor. The goal is to help you to bring the contents of PDF files back into an editable format using Word 2013," Thatcher explained.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

Featured

  • Microsoft Sweetens Windows 7 Extended Security Updates for E5 Licensees

    In a promotional offer, organizations that have E5 licensing can get a year of free access to Microsoft's Extended Security Updates program for Windows 7.

  • Rollout Begins for HoloLens 2

    Microsoft started shipping the new version of its mixed reality headset, the HoloLens 2, on Thursday.

  • The 2019 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    From the next major update to Windows 10 to the next generation of HoloLens, here's what's on tap from Microsoft this year.

  • 2019 Microsoft Conference Calendar: For Partners, IT Pros and Developers

    Here's your guide to all the IT training sessions, partner meet-ups and annual Microsoft conferences you won't want to miss this year.

RCP Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.