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Novell to support Microsoft Office documents

Company joins project designed to bridge rival document formats and thus enable its OpenOffice customers to work with Microsoft Office.

Novell said Monday it is participating in an open-source project designed to bridge rival document formats and thus enable its customers to work with Microsoft Office documents.

Novell, a business software maker, distributes its own edition of the open-source desktop productivity suite OpenOffice. The programs in it save documents in the OpenDocument format, or ODF, which is a standard created by several companies.

By January, Novell said, users of the OpenOffice word processor will be able to read documents saved in the Office Open XML format, the default setting for Microsoft's recently released Office 2007 suite.

" is very important to Novell. And as our customers deploy Linux desktops across their organizations, they're telling us that sharing documents between and Microsoft Office is a must-have," Nat Friedman, Novell's chief technology and strategy officer for open source, said in a statement.

The project that Novell has joined was established by Microsoft earlier this year. It is known as the Open XML/ODF Translator project. Novell said it will contribute the code for the translators to the project.

Last month, Microsoft and Novell signed a legal and technical agreement to improve interoperability between their respective products, including their desktop productivity suites.

Corel, the maker of the WordPerfect Office suite, said that it intends to support both ODF and Microsoft's Office Open XML format in future versions.

The Microsoft-sponsored ODF converter project is still in the process of building the converters that will let people work with both formats.