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Brief: Microsoft Gives Ground With OpenDocument Decision

It will post online software that lets Word save in the alternative file-saving format.
At this rate, Microsoft's critics could have more say about how the next version of Office looks than the company does.

Microsoft last week released free software on the Web that will let Word handle files created using a data format backed by competitors IBM and Sun Microsystems. Translators for Excel and PowerPoint are in the works. It's a response to supporters of the OpenDocument Format, such as the state of Massachusetts and the European Union, that don't want to have their documents in a format controlled by one company--especially Microsoft. Proprietary standards pose risks to archiving documents in the long haul, they say.


Office 2007, work in progress
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Office 2007, work in progress
The move marks the third time in less than a year that Microsoft has bowed to pressure from critics of next year's Office 2007 suite. Last fall, Massachusetts and the EU pressured the software company into submitting Open XML, a new file format in Office's upcoming version, to an industry standards body in Geneva. Last month, Microsoft said it would remove from the suite tools for creating files in Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format, as well as in an alternative Microsoft format, after Adobe threatened a lawsuit. Office 2007 will include menu options that point users to the OpenDocument Format translators and the add-ons for PDF and Microsoft's XML Paper Specification.

Microsoft posted a prototype of the Word translator last week and promised a complete version by year's end, and add-ons for Excel and PowerPoint next year. The company recently delayed the release of Office 2007 from January to as late as March.