Microsoft’s announcement of a tool to bring the OpenOffice file format into Word 2007 includes a quote from Andrew Hopkirk, director of the UK’s National Computing Centre’s e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) Programme:
Electronic document translation between different fixed formats is always going to be somewhat inexact. Like human language translations, concepts and specifications will differ in detail. This tool promises to be a very significant development in the trend towards practical open document standards and, critically, customer-friendly means to move between them. It can only be good for the IT industry’s customers and product and service innovators.
Of course, the really customer-friendly thing to do would be embrace the open standard, rather than developing their own, regardless of the apparent reason for doing so. A weak standard universally adopted is still better than no standardisation at all. But I’m not naive enough to think that’s going to happen. (Likewise, wouldn’t it just be easier for IE7 to adopt the Gecko layout engine?)
Oh, and before you rush off to download the tool, be warned: if you aren’t running Word 2007 and .NET 2.0, you’re stuck with a command-line version for now.