Microsoft has announced that it will use Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology for default file formats in the next version of its Office package.
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Office Open XML Formats will be the defaults for the Office 12 versions of Word, Powerpoint and Exel, due to be released in the second half of next year.
The new formats would increase data interoperability, improve security and enhance data recovery, the company said. File sizes would also be reduced sharply, cutting back on storage requirements.
Microsoft claimed the XML formats would also boost the market opportunities of technology providers and developers. The fully documented file formats with open, royalty free licences would allow developers to integrate them into servers, applications and business processes, without payment to Microsoft.
Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Office at Microsoft, said: “Customers have asked us for improved file and data management, improved interoperability and open, royalty-free, published file format specifications – without sacrificing backward compatibility.
“We're confident that by adopting XML-based default file formats we are delivering the tools that will help IT professionals address these challenges, while enabling developers to integrate Office even further into their customised solutions.”
Microsoft said its research showed that more than a million developers were currently working on Office 2003-based solutions, with more than a third using XML.