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Office Software Formats Battle Moves To Asia

Microsoft and the OpenDocument Format Alliance hail their successes for open software standards, which have been adopted in the region.

The office software formats controversy shifted to Asia this week as Microsoft announced an expansion of the Open XML-ODF translator project for customers in China and Japan.

The announcement comes at the same time that the competing OpenDocument Format Alliance announced its new guidelines for open software standards have been adopted in Japan.

In Japan, the government now gives preference to the procurement of products that follow open standards including the ODF standards, the ODF Alliance reported Monday. The new guidelines are available from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

While the guidelines were developed for adoption by government units, the government suggested they would be useful, too, for nongovernment use.

In a statement, Marino Marcich, managing director of the ODF Alliance, said: "By giving preference to open software formats such as ODF, [the Japanese government] is saying that information should be competitively priced, innovative, and easily available to the widest range of people, now and in the future."

Microsoft said it has teamed up with Turbolinux in a move to promote the Open XML-ODF translator project on and to provide guidance on Open XML-ODF translators in Chinese and Japanese. Turbolinux distributes Linux software suites in Asia.

"Customers in Asia will have the ability to choose whatever format makes sense to them," Jean Paoli, Microsoft's general manager of Interoperability and XML, said in a statement.

Koichi Yano, Turbolinux's CEO, praised the collaborative work carried out by the SourceForge open source community. "Our hope in joining this project is to not only contribute our own expertise in working with ODF files, but also to enable choice in formats for our own customers in the near future," he said in a statement.

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