Open Office to support Open XML?

Interesting post here:

"Microsoft Office 2007 file format support

Microsoft Office 2007 (also called Office Open XML) file formats include .docx, .pptx, and .xlsx. Despite the similarity in names, these formats are significantly different than the Microsoft Office formats used since 1997. 3 will offer native read and write support. 3.0 DEV300_m3 converted this reference .docx document with mediocre quality. The notable problems were tracked changes, a comment, columns, an image, and an embedded Excel document. For comparison, the same document is shown rendered in Word 2007 and in 3.0 DEV300_m3."

The post references this link as well:

Once again, those interested in interoperability benefit from adoption of the Open XML formats. I'll take this as a very strong statement of support for the Open XML IP Policy.  I'm just wondering, is this what IBM is contributing to Is this why they joined? 🙂


Comments (11)

  1. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi Dave,

    This is the part where you want to offer data, becuase otherwise you just sound like someone who is just here to cry wolf. Last I saw, Open Office Impress still converts PowerPoint tables to a group of rectangle shapes, which we still have a good laugh about. I’m not sure in what world one would claim that has better support for existing doucments that Microsoft Office does. try harder next time.

    look here:

    and here:

  2. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi Rob,

    fair enough on the context comment, but I’ll point out (Again) that IBM does support Open XML in its products today.

    I believe that the project is based on the open source translation tools that are already in market. If you saw our announcement on the interoperability princicples, you would have seen our announcement that we are updating Office with converter interfaces that will allow any format to set itself as the default. I think we’re on the same page regarding the enablement of other formats.

    Both the adoption of the translation tools and the implementation of the spec in certainly underscore the comfort level with the OSP, which we are happy to see.

  3. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi Dave,

    I guess we can slice the word "support" in a lot of different ways, but the in-product Open XML functionality of is no more or less "support" for the "standard" as is the ODF Translator for Microsoft Office.

    Is there a "complete" implementation? I don’t know… is there a "complete" implementation of PDF? do you know that spec well enough to know whether 100% of it has been implemented (I know PDF pretty well, I have my own thoughts.) Would you regard the testing of ODF implementations done as a "complete" implementation of ODF?

  4. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi William (& Dave),

    I guess this is where the conversation gets interesting. If "we all already know many file formats are 99.x% implemented" and you sound like you are aware of the history of implementing standards in the industry, why would you insist that I "admit the shortcomings"
    of anything to preserve "credibility?" — you answered your own question already…

    The problem is that there is no more meaning and truth-seeking in ASKING the question than there is in answering it…




    for more details on the reality in play here.

    I guess we could talk about the disagreements in the file format community of the interpretations of XML validation tools that validate documents differently against their schemas? — even the validators are called into question. If you are asking if there
    are differences in the written spec vs. impelmentations, yes, there are. Excel 2003 only supports the use of 65k (and change) rows. Open XML allows for 1M. The product is more restrictive than the spec in this case.

    If you’re asking the question because you are implementing something and need guidance, then we have an awesome support infrastructure where you can get those questions addressed:

    So I guess if the characterization of this as a "shortcoming" reveals your intentions, are you seeking to apply a theoretical standard to Microsoft which is not applied to other existing products and other existing implementation of standards? — it is not
    clear to me what you are trying to get out of the discussion.

    I think the dialog is much more construcitve if it is being conducted in a forum where software is developed, not with a vocal minority looking for a theoretical limit to criticize. As you note, all formats are not fully implemented, and there is little
    to be gained from the "pass/fail" validation question. Turning this into a black/white conversation for the sake of generating headlines doesn’t have much "credibility" in the software development world where actual products are built and shipped.

    Short answer: We implemented Ecma 376 in Office 2007 and the compatibility pack for Open XML. If you are experiencing a situation where the specification appears to be different than what one of our products are reading and writing into the formats, please
    file a bug and we will work to ensure we can understand it.

  5. Rob Brown says:

    Come on Gray! This is news?!

    *Of course* OpenOffice will read and write OOXML. A variation on OOXML is the standard file format for your major office suite, remember? Free software has always worked very hard for interoperability with Microsoft, even when Microsoft has abused its monopoly position to *prevent* that interoperability.

    So now that you’re talking about interoperability, how about letting us know *when* MS Office will allow other document formats (such as ODF) to be set as the default load/save format?

    I’m not sure what your reference to IBM is about. Seems like you’re taking their involvement "shamelessly out of context". Pop in on, it will clear that up for you 🙂

  6. Rob Brown says:

    Hi Gray,

    Thanks for the reply. Your recent interoperability announcements have been welcome (of course) and they do seem to have some meat behind them. As you say, Onward!

    I’m sorry to repeat this (Again) but support for OOXML is going to happen because of its market relevance, not necessarily because of its perceived value or validity as a standard, or any perceived benefit in its adoption. That doesn’t need to be discussed.

    What I *am* interested in is tangible action from Microsoft in backing up your announcements. So again I ask, *when* will the converter interfaces be available in Microsoft Office? Obviously I’m not asking for a date, but could we expect it in the same service pack that enables Office to read and write the updated DIS29500 format?

  7. Jesper Lund Stocholm says:


    Actually it is rather good and remarkable news that OOo will support reading and writing OOXML-files, because up until now the OOo-team has only publically noted that Import-filtres for OOXML would be a part of OOo 3.

    I think this is really good news.


  8. Dave Lane says:

    It’s great to see that the OOo developers are supporting the latest file format change in MS Office, no doubt reverse engineered like all of MS’s closed file formats before it.  

    The question is this: what does support for MS Office 2007’s DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX formats have to do with MSOOXML?  Very little, as far as I know…  that’s because MS Office 2007’s file format is not a compliant implementation of MSOOXML.  In fact, it’s not even close.  In fact, and correct me if I’m wrong here Gray, no one has actually implemented anything close to a reference implementation of MS OOXML yet.

    It must be embarrassing for Microsoft that OOo actually supports Microsoft’s legacy file formats better than MS Office itself does…

  9. Dave Lane says:

    Thanks for straightening me out on supporting my arguments. I was more referring to this:,130061733,339284895,00.htm

    But hey, no hard feelings, eh.  I wish you the best of luck, because it clearly – given the lengths to which you guys have gone – means a lot to to you that MS OOXML gets the vote.  

    By the way, I notice that you didn’t respond to my other point in the previous post – that MS Office 2007 compatibility file compatibility in OOo doesn’t necessarily imply "support for MSOOXML".  

    Perhaps you can clarify: do MS Office 2007’s file formats conform with the MS OOXML spec as it currently stands?  If not, is there any reasonably complete reference implementation of MS OOXML in the wild?



  10. William Deans says:

    Greetings Gray,

    Dave asked a reasonable question which you have avoided answering.  We all know many file formats are “only” 99.x% implemented.  In your examples of PDF, ODF, and MS OOXML who comes in first, second, third …. or perhaps a distant third?  Why not admit to MS OOXML shortcomings but explain why it is good overall anyway?  When you so avidly avoid admitting to the shortcomings you lose credibility.

    Hope this helps,


  11. Adelle Umara says:

    Now that OpenOffice 3.0.0 has been released, the truth comes to light. There is NO WRITE support for msooxml file formats. You can open some files, but don’t think you’ll be able to save any changes you make, you need to save in a different format if you try. Biggest let down of the millenium thus far.

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