Recently a Microsoft director mentioned that MS Office 2007 will get native ODF support with the next Service Pack. Additionally, future versions of Office will also support ODF. While this is exciting news, at the same time Microsoft acts just like it was used to do in Romania.
Microsoft’s director of corporate standards, Jason Matusow, mentioned in a recent interview with BetaNews that ODF support will be included with the next Service Pack for Microsoft Office 2007. Additionally, future versions of Microsoft Office will be shipped with ODF support right from the beginning. The support will be that strong that ODF can even be used as the standard format within Microsoft Office. The same is true for PDF support, btw.. Previous to that announcement Microsoft provided ODF support only in form of a 3rd party plugin which had to be installed manually.
While this is very good news for the ODF supporters and might give the formal a real boost in the near future, the question is how honest this announcement is. The European Union is one of the most important and most pressing factors behind many of Microsoft recent decisions to become more open. They do have quite a lot of experience with Microsoft regarding such statements – and they are usually very reserved regarding such announcements. With this announcement the EU just stated that they are generally welcome any effort towards any further interoperability, and that they will test if it really leads there.
While Microsoft tries to be more open regarding Office software formats there are again signs of the old Microsoft. A recent example is an educational software presentation event held in Cluj (Romania). According to a blog post Microsoft used its market force and the fact that they are a co-sponsor to prohibit a presentation about Free Software because it would be “unfair”.
Unfortunately the university seems to boil down to the pressure – although the university is the main sponsor of the event, which is generally about educational software and not only about Microsoft’s software. And the fact that Microsoft now says others are unfair somehow turns the world upside down, given that Microsoft in the past much too often used illegal methods for which they were sentenced several times.
There are many people out there hoping that Microsoft indeed turns into a “good” player (which means nothing more or less than using only legal tricks), but even if that is true the process will take quite some time – and that parts of the old Microsoft will stay active until the entire corporation has finished the transformation.