Compatibility Pack for Open XML passes 100 million downloads

Sorry for the absence, I took a short break from work and blogging after the birth of our second child. Being a parent is a great blessing. It's just the signing up for 12 more months of 3-hour increments of sleep that I'm not so sure about J.

But it's back to work for me now, and it is a pleasure to return to some great news related to the adoption of Open XML. The Compatibility Pack, software that allows you to open, edit and save Open XML format documents in Office XP and 2003 has now been downloaded over 100 million times. This is quite a strong indicator of the global adoption of the Open XML formats. This is incredibly positive news.


As I discussed when we were at the 20 million mark, the compatibility pack is a manual download. It is not pushed through any update channels*. In order for an end user to obtain it, they must visit the Microsoft download center, select one of the 35 available languages, and download the 26MB installer. To say it differently, more than 100 million people have had cause to seek out and download the compatibility pack for Open XML; likely due to their encountering a document stored in one of the formats.

This number also does not include IT departments who have pushed the compatibility pack to users through tools such as WSUS or other software management services. Typically that would have a download count of 1, and a distribution count of thousands. I have worked on several of those projects with various customers. The number also excludes our OEM partners who have elected to distribute the compatibility pack. Two months ago I purchased an HP Laptop which came with the compatibility pack pre-installed.

Also worth noting is the conservative nature of this measurement. The statistic measures known, completed downloads, but we're also aware that in many cases, the download completes successfully even if we don't receive the feedback that it has. It is very likely the case that the number of actual end user downloads greatly exceeds 100 million. We're also not counting the # of downloads of the free viewers for Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007 either.

Combined with the outstanding traction of Office 2007 to date, we are now at a point where a substantial percentage of business productivity desktops are reading and writing Open XML documents.

This is also a good time to refresh this data. As of today, the gap between the number of indexed documents for Open XML and ODF is increasing. According to Google file type searches:


Oct 08 result

June 09 result

% increase

























As I also said in my prior post on format adoption, however, relative to the 81 million binary Office documents indexed on Google, we have a long way to go. It's great to see that we're off to a great start on Open XML though.

*You can see from Microsoft Update that patches or updates to the compatibility pack are offered as automatic updates. The compatibility pack itself, however, is not available through any automatic update channels.

Comments (13)

  1. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi Luc,

    In fact we have done exactly that, in a number of ways. The Sourceforge projects for Open XML and ODF translation, the binary to Open XML translators, the DII events, the Implementer’s notes for Open XML and ODF are available for (and everybody else) to review.

    Besides, and many other non Microsoft Office products do a fine job of supporting the Office binaries, so I’m not sure that I agree with your perspective. Business productivity apps are complex and require multiple doucment formats. Good ones support many of them.

  2. GrayKnowlton says:

    Luc, you might try to spin this as good news for ODF, but remember that ODF (and ODF implementations) had a full 12-month head start. the way to interpret this data is that the rate of Open XML usage is accelerating at a fairly dramatic pace, and we will likely have passed 1M indexed DOCX documents within the claendar year. ODT will take a very, very long time to get there.

    If you recall back to Rob’s post a few years ago, when he cited x thousand ODF documents and around 400 Open XML files, we’re at a situation where Open XML traction has caught, surpassed and now greatly exceeded ODF. this gap will only increase over time.

    But i’ll make you a deal. let’s wait 6 months and see where the numbers stand.. we’ll come back to this then.

  3. GrayKnowlton says:

    Luc, can you please re-post your comment? It is not in my mod queue for approval..

  4. GrayKnowlton says:

    Luc was having trouble with my mod q, so I’m going to post the comment he emailed to me today:

    @Gray: Congratulation for this extraordinary achievement.

    @David: "Where are the ODF supporters now? Why aren’t they commenting on this post?"  Maybe because they are busy downloading, installing and using

    The compatibility pack for Open XML was released in November of 2006.  It achieved 20 million downloads in December of 2007 (i.e. after 13 months), and 100 million downloads in June of 2009 (i.e. after 31 months).  Given the installed base of MS Office, I’m not impressed by these figures.

    OpenOffice has a much smaller installed base, but it is rapidly growing… OpenOffice 3.0 was released on 13-Oct-2008.  Based on a similarly conservative counter as for the OOXML compatibility pack, it achieved 1 million of downloads in 2 days (, 10  millions in 2 months ( and 60 millions in 7 months (

    OpenOffice 3.1 was launched on 7-May-09, and is currently above 11.7 million of downloads, in one and a half month.

    And don’t forget that OpenOffice is only one of the many products supporting ODF.  In particular, Microsoft is now also an ODF supporter and each download of MS Office 2007 SP2 results in another PC(s) able to produce ODF files.

  5. David St says:

    Kind of makes you wonder what all the fuss is about doesn’t it? Where are the ODF supporters now? Why aren’t they commenting on this post?

  6. Luc Bollen says:

    Gray, you give figures about the increase in the number of OOXML and ODF documents indexed by Google.

    Based on your figures, the global growth rate of OOXML (from 144,800 files to 478,100 files, i.e. an increase of 230%) is around 3 times higher than the growth rate of ODF files (from 124,200 files to 207,700 files, i.e. an increase of 67%).

    Given that in Oct-08 there were roughly the same number of ODF and OOXML files, my conclusion is that the number of OOXML active users is only 3 times higher than the number of active ODF users.  Does that match your conclusion ?

  7. southwest says:

    That sounds like good news all round.  Great that 100 million extra people have OOXML acces, still a lot more to go as Luc suggests.

    Congratulations also to OpenOffice for the success.

    Microsoft is clearly helping with ODF adoption through Office SP2 and the Cleverage plugin.

    It seems only fair that OpenOffice will return the favour of standards support instead of providing read-only support, that would be some real progress.

  8. Luc Bollen says:

    Gray, of course the good news for ODF would be that its growth rate is higher than the growth rate of OOXML ;-).  Now isn’t calling this a ‘dramatic pace’ not a spin ?  But as you say, the interesting point will be to see what is the trend within 6 months.

  9. Luc Bollen says:

    @Southwest: "It seems only fair that OpenOffice will return the favour of standards support instead of providing read-only support"

    That’s one of the issues of having two standards instead of one: you need to distract a lot of your resources to support the second standard.  For Microsoft, it is quite easy to provide resources for implementing ODF, but it is much more difficult for OpenOffice to find the resources for implementing the 6000+ pages of OOXML…  Maybe Microsoft could provide to OpenOffice the resources needed to implement and support the export filter ?

  10. carl says:

    very informative post on open XML. Thank you very much. keep it up

  11. Samantha says:

    very informative. please keep it going

  12. Kevin says:

    great info in both the post and the comments. thank you all

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