Software // Enterprise Applications
03:52 PM

Out Of Control

Microsoft never relinquishes control easily; this time, it buckled to the bureaucrats. But its decision, related to its upcoming Office 12 suite, should help customers, particularly businesses that want to customize Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Microsoft will submit its Office Open XML-the format for files created in Office 12, due late next year-to Ecma International in Geneva for ratification within a year or so as an industry standard. It's not a first; parts of Microsoft's .Net Framework have been approved by the group. But in doing so, the company gives up unilateral control over how Office documents work.

The European Union wants Microsoft products to be more interoperable with other companies' software. Massachusetts applied pressure, too, by planning to archive millions of digital files in a format backed by IBM and Sun Microsystems, looking to ensure that data is readable even if Microsoft changes technical plans.

Companies including Apple and Intel say they'll support the Office 12 Ecma format. The ability for software from other companies to read and create files in ways compatible with Microsoft's software is becoming more important as customers connect business apps from vendors such as SAP and Oracle to Word and Excel.

But independent software vendors have had to reverse-engineer Microsoft's apps to gain compatibility, and integration isn't always seamless. Office "is basically a black box," says Paul DeGroot, an analyst at consulting firm Directions on Microsoft. Going to XML was a big change, and "now they have to convince developers that it's safe."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of July 17, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.