Some very interesting ice thawing out there, and I’m not talking about the arctic tundra (though that’s melting too at a rather disturbing rate …). Gerald Bauer, a friend and noted expert in the XUL space twigged my attention to a recently deployed Source Forge project to develop an Open Office ODF plugin for Microsoft Word 2007 (http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/). While there are a number of participants involved, what I find most interesting is this entry:
Microsoft (Funding, Architectural & Technical Guidance and Project co-coordination)
While this may be simply a tacit recognition of the writing on the wall, I find it fascinating nonetheless that this is being done 1) as a source-forge project, 2) with both funding and apparent blessing from Microsoft, and 3) that it seems to be a very real effort to reach out to the OSS community in a meaningful way on a technology that could be seen as directly competitive.
Watch that space closely - I sense that there are shifts and strains going on at the intermediate management level within Microsoft that may prove to be critical for the evolution of the company in the next several years, and this quiet little project may be simply the vanguard of this approach.