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Dashboard: Office, OpenOffice Ready To Talk

Novell, which recently launched a partnership with Microsoft, said it's working with the software maker and others to develop bidirectional translators for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations between the two suites.

Novell plans to release open-source interoperability technology between the OpenOffice.org productivity suite and Microsoft Office 2007.

The Waltham, Mass., company, which recently launched a partnership with Microsoft, said it is working with the software maker and others to develop bidirectional translators for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations between the two suites. The first, the word processing translator, should debut in late January.

The translators will be available as plug-ins to OpenOffice.org. In addition, Novell plans to release to the open-source community code needed to integrate the Open XML format, developed by Microsoft, into OpenOffice. The integration code is expected to help maintain consistent formats, formulas and style templates across Office 2007 and the open-source productivity suite.

Microsoft submitted Open XML, which is the default format of Office 2007, to the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA), an international standards body, in December. ECMA approved the standard despite objections from IBM, and ECMA's General Assembly voted to submit the Open XML specification to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Open Document (ODF), a competing format advocated by IBM, is already an ISO standard.

Office 2007 is now available for businesses, along with Vista, a major upgrade of the Windows OS. OpenOffice.org supports ODF by default. Novell supports the OpenOffice suite on Linux and Windows as part of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and Open Workgroup Suite products.

The broader Novell-Microsoft partnership is meant to develop interoperability technology between Windows and Linux, including virtualization technology to make it easier to run Windows and the open-source OS on the same computer.

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