Microsoft adds its Office file formats to the Open Specification Promise

Is Microsoft playing fair at last? Don't count on it.

Microsoft has given the open-source community a belated Valentine's Day present by adding its Office file formats (.xls, .doc, and .ppt) to the Open Specification Promise. It also added information on patent/copyright coverage and information on how OSP interacts with GPL-based software development. (You can see what the site looked like before the changes using the Wayback Machine.)

Good for you, Microsoft.

No, Microsoft wasn't motivated by peace, love, and Linux. Rather, the contribution of the binaries is focused on getting OOXML approved:

The binaries were published in response to concerns among national bodies voting whether or not to ratify OOXML as an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, according to Microsoft Office program manager Brian Jones. The national bodies were concerned that third-party developers may have had difficulties converting Office binary formats to OOXML, referred to in the ISO ratification process as "DIS 29500".

I haven't looked at the specifications, but there are complaints that they're incomplete. I'm sure Microsoft will drag its feet as long as it can on a full release of the specifications. The goal is OOXML approval, not to allow anyone to cut into its Office monopoly.

Still, a start is a start. Let's hope it continues.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


    Discuss Microsoft adds its Office file formats to...

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Show Comments Hide Comments
    Latest Articles from CNET
    The other analog format: Cassette tape decks have never been cheaper to buy