Microsoft 'Frees' Office Formats

Microsoft places code and specs for its old Office binary file formats under its "no lawsuit" program; begins open source project. Microsoft this week officially gave developers the right to freely use code and specifications for translating between its older proprietary Office file formats and Office 2007's newer XML formats without fear of being sued. […]

Microsoft places code and specs for its old Office binary file formats under its "no lawsuit" program; begins open source project.

Microsoft this week officially gave developers the right to freely use code and specifications for translating between its older proprietary Office file formats and Office 2007's newer XML formats without fear of being sued.

At the same time, company officials must be sitting on pins and needles as a key meeting over whether or not its newer formats will become an international standard looms.

Microsoft officials announced today that they have placed the older Office binary file format specifications for Word, Excel and PowerPoint (.doc, .xls, .ppt) under the company's Open Specification Promise (OSP). The OSP is a legal program whereby Microsoft promises not to sue developers who use specifications that it puts under the program's aegis.

Documentation for the formats has been available by request on a royalty free basis for a while, but putting it under the OSP gives developers cover from lawsuits.

"By making these specifications easier to access, others will be able to build products or tools that will be able to convert documents from the binary file formats to Open XML," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.

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Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Office 2007, OOXML, Open Office, Open XML, Binary, File Format, Open-Source, Open Source