Microsoft will make Extensible Markup Language (XML) the default for saving files in its release of Office 12, due next year.
The new file formats will allow Office to be more open to other developers and applications, and could meet the demands of some users that require XML to meet regulatory requirements, said Gartner.
Michael Silver, vice-president and research director at Gartner Research, said that the new format will also enable Microsoft to compress documents more effectively, and add additional features more easily.
Users will also be able to strip out metadata (data describing the core data’s attributes) more easily and share data with other applications more seamlessly, said Silver.
“In the past, the open-source community has faulted Microsoft for controlling Office users' data with proprietary formats,” he said.
It willnow be possible for Office alternatives, like OpenOffice, to replicate Microsoft's file format more faithfully in their applications.
Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s senior vice-president for Office, said, “The new formats improve file and data management, data recovery, and interoperability with line-of-business systems beyond what is possible with Office 2003 binary files. Any program that supports XML, it doesn't have to be part of Office or even from Microsoft, can access and work with data in the new file format.”