Developers of an open source project to produce a translator between the Opendocument format (ODF) and Microsoft's Open XML document format have released a completed version of the tool.
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With the project, Microsoft aims to convince users - particularly in the public sector - that it is not locking them into proprietary data formats built around its own products.
When plugged into Microsoft Office Word, for example, the translator provides the choice to open and save documents in ODF rather than the native Open XML format.
The translator may also be plugged into non-Microsoft word processing programs that use ODF as the default format to open and save documents in Open XML.
Microsoft announced its support for the open source project in July 2006. Since inception it has remained among the 30 most active projects on Sourceforge.net, and the tool has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, said Microsoft.
Microsoft said the project, along with the standardisation of Open XML within Ecma International, and the ongoing standardisation of Open XML in the International Organisation for Standardisation and the International Electrotechnical Commission, would help to ensure that users have a choice of formats in which to store their data.
Tom Robertson, general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft, said, "The translator project is independent of any one application, and has proved to be useful for both Microsoft and our competitors in solving an interoperability challenge for customers."
Novell plans to implement the translator in the next version of the Openoffice productivity suite.
The second phase of the translator project, including translators for spreadsheets and presentation software, will begin this firstname.lastname@example.org