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Microsoft Word-OpenOffice Translator Hits The Launchpad

The OpenXML Translator is available through SourceForge.net, a repository for software and information on a variety of open source projects.
Open source developers on Friday launched version 1.0 of a translator for the native document formats in OpenOffice and Microsoft Office.

The OpenXML Translator is available through SourceForge.net, a repository for software and information on a variety of open source projects. Microsoft announced its support of the translator project last July and is funding the effort.

The translator provides interoperability between OpenDocument and OpenXML, the native document formats for OpenOffice and Office 2007, respectively. Microsoft does not ship the translator within Office but says it has been tested on Office 2007, Office 2003, and Office XP. Open source distributor Novell, however, has said it will install the translator in its next version of OpenOffice.

The second phase of the translator project is scheduled to begin this month, when developers tackle similar technology for Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation programs, and competing applications within OpenOffice. Technology previews are expected to be posted to SourceForge.net in May, with final versions scheduled to ship in November, Microsoft said. The French company CleverAge is the developer in the translator projects, while Dialogika of Germany and India-based Aztecsoft are doing the testing.

The standards body Ecma International approved Microsoft's OpenXML format as a standard in December. The group plans to submit the specification to the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission. OpenDocument has already been approved by Ecma and the ISO/IEC.

Microsoft has said that its decision to support interoperability between Office and rival OpenOffice is driven by customer demand. "The translator project has been built to be independent of any one application, and has proved to be useful for both Microsoft and our competitors in solving an interoperability challenge for customers," said Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft, in a statement.

Within the open source market, Microsoft has also partnered with Novell in building interoperability between Windows and the latter company's SUSE Linux. The two companies are also working on virtualization technology.