Despite Steve Ballmer’s anti-Linux bluster, the Microsoft peace pact with the Open Source world has begun to pay dividends. Novell just announced OpenOffice.org’s support of Office Office 2007’s Open XML format. Novell joins Corel, which has already said that the WordPerfect Office suite will support Office Open XML as well.
The cynics may say that Microsoft bought Novell support. After all, Microsoft just paid Novell $240 million in a complex deal around the use of Open Source software.
They miss the point, because in fact, even if it was a payoff, it’s a good thing. If Microsoft is willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get into the good graces of the Open Source community, that’s all to the good. It means more openness and more interoperability. Ultimately, we all benefit.
Microsoft has also submitted Open XML to Ecma, an international standards body which will most likely vote on Dec. 7 to submit Open XML specification to the International Organization for Standardization for approval.
If all goes well, in essence, Open XML will become an open standard.
We can all hope this means the end of the .doc format. Even Microsoft is beginning to abandon it; Open XML is Office 2007’s default. At that point, Microsoft can compete on the features of its software, not the fact that they own the most popular word processing format in the world.