It looks like Microsoft Office will, after all, support the OpenDocument Format. Sort of.
The company said early Thursday that it has created an Open XML Translator project through which partners will help it build interop between Microsoft Office Open XML Formats and ODF.
Key partners in this effort are Clever Age, Aztecsoft and Dialogika, Microsoft said in a statement.
The "technical bridge" tools will be free downloads. A prototype of a translator for the upcoming Word 2007 product will be posted today to SourceForge, the company said in a statement.
Office 2007 is now due broadly early next year.
Microsoft has been under fire in Europe and in Massachusetts over what critics say is intransigence on the file format issue. They say Microsoft wants to lock customers into a proprietary world that locks out competitive applications.
In some cases it has been caught between a rock and a hard place. It planned to add a "save to PDF" feature in Office 2007 but pulled it after objections from Adobe Systems. The state of Massachusetts mandated that future productivity software be able to work with PDF and ODF file formats, which helped force Microsoft's hand, although even that state's implementation plans remain up in the air.
In May, the OpenDocument Foundation announced an ODF plug-in for Office
Software rivals have been quick to jump on Microsoft for these file format woes while Microsoft maintains that its Office Open XML formats are open.
IBM recently said its upcoming Notes client will support ODF.