Like most of you, I’ve lived with Microsoft .doc files forever. After Word decimated its competitors, .doc became the de facto standard for Windows-based word processors.
There was one good thing about Word’s .doc become the word-processing standard. No longer did you have to worry about converting files between formats, with all the errors and messiness that entailed.
But .doc has outlined its usefulness. The OpenDocument Format (ODF) is a widely accepted Open Source standard, and Microsoft should support it in the upcoming Office 12. By merely supporting the standard — allowing Word to save in ODF and read ODF files — Microsoft won’t be giving up its use of .doc files. People can still use them. All it will do is give people a choice.
Microsoft has repeatedly said that it won’t support ODF in Office 12. That decision may come back to haunt the company. As I’ve written in a previous blog, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts s announced that as of January 1, 2007, the state government would have to use applications that work with the OpenDocument format. That rules out Office.
Although Microsoft has said it won’t support ODF in Office 12, it’s also given itself a way out. It often issues vague statements noting that it will consider any new feature for Office that its customers ask for.
Now is the time for Microsoft to take that way out, and support ODF. No single company should own a standard for something as ubiquitous as word processing files.
Do you think Microsoft should support ODF?