Novell boosts Microsoft Office and OpenOffice XML interoperability

Increased interoperability between office software applications offered by new plug-ins

One of the first fruits borne out of the collaboration deal between Novell and Microsoft is support for the Office Open XML file format in Novell's version of OpenOffice.

By supporting Microsoft's proprietary format, which was introduced with Office 2007, Novell hopes to increase interoperability between Open XML and OpenDocument, the open source file format adopted by OpenOffice.

The two companies will also co-operate on the creation of bi-directional open-source translators between the two formats. The word processing translator to be available by the end of January 2007; additional translators for spreadsheets and presentations will be available later in the year.

The translators will be made available as plug-ins to Novell's OpenOffice.org product and the source code submitted for inclusion in the OpenOffice.org project.

'Novell supports the OpenDocument format as the default file format in OpenOffice.org because it provides customer choice and flexibility, but interoperability with Microsoft Office has also been critical to the success of OpenOffice.org,' said Nat Friedman, Novell chief technology and strategy officer for Open Source.

'OpenOffice.org is very important to Novell, and as our customers deploy Linux desktops across their organisations, they're telling us that sharing documents between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office is a must-have. The addition of Open XML support reflects Novell's commitment to providing enterprise customers the tools they need to be successful, from the desktop to the data centre.'

Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Business Division Product Management Group, said that the agreement demonstrates that Novell and Microsoft share a commitment to document interoperability.

'As a leader in the open source community, Novell can help us make sure the Open XML translation technology works well across different applications and platforms,' he said. 'Novell has already provided contributions to the Ecma Open XML standard, and this commitment to support the Open XML format via their product makes it work for customers.'

The two companies recently appeared to put a long-running patents dispute behind them when Microsoft agreed to provide support and technology to allow Novell's Suse version of Linux to work with Windows. However, it was not long before the two new friends fell out over the precise details of the deal.

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