Microsoft to Fully Embrace Open Document Standards

By David H. Ringstrom

After years of hegemony, Microsoft has finally acknowledged that the world wants to be able to save documents in open formats that are freely shareable with other software applications.
 
From the beginning, Microsoft Office users have been generally required to save documents in proprietary formats, such as .XLS or .DOC, that couldn't always be opened in competing productivity suites. These limitations will fall way when Microsoft Office 2013 is released.
 
Three new document format options will appear in Office 2013:
  1. Strict Open XML - an ISO standard that offers maximum cross-platform flexibility.
  2. ODF 1.2 (Open Document Format), the document standard utilized by free, open-source applications such as Apache OpenOffice.
  3. The ability to open PDF documents in Word, make edits, and then save the document back as a PDF - or any other document format.
 
It's presently sometimes difficult or impossible to use certain Office documents in other software programs. Over the years, Microsoft has made overtures to open document formats by including transitional document formats available in Office 2007 and 2010. However, this has meant that documents couldn't necessarily make a round-trip between say Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet programs without a loss of functionality.
 
Long-term Office users have become accustomed to working around the restrictions of Microsoft's proprietary document formats. For instance, Word users can save documents in Rich Text Format, which most word processing programs can open without issue. However, complex Excel documents could often only be opened and edited cleanly in Microsoft Excel.  A free document viewer was the lone olive branch offered to anyone unwilling or unable to purchase Microsoft Office.
 
Microsoft also long resisted the PDF format, to the extent that it launched a competing XPS document format that failed to gain traction in the marketplace. Microsoft Office 2007 haphazardly introduced the ability to save documents in PDF format, in that users had to manually download a software update. PDF capabilities were formally adopted in Office 2007 when Microsoft issued the Service Pack 2 update. Office 2010 shipped with native functionality for saving documents in PDF format, but Office 2013 builds on this by empowering users to both edit and save documents in PDF format.
 
This sea change was announced by Microsoft in a recent blog post, which includes a useful chart that documents Microsoft's gradual shift in document format availability over the past decade.
 
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
 
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at david@acctadv.com or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.

 

You may like these other stories...

If you're thinking that bitcoin and digital currency generally are merely some one-off flash in the pan, the new Digital Currency Council would argue otherwise. The council launched in September and already had 400...
Sponsored Content from Confirmation.com: AccountingWEB takes a look at confirmations in audit engagements, how they can serve as a doorway to fraud, and what you can do about it. Today, auditors have to fight fire with...
If your small-business clients are on the fence about cloud accounting, they've got plenty of company. A recent survey by market researcher and consultant Software Advice indicates a decidedly mixed view by respondents...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 22This webinar will include discussions of important issues in AU-C 800, Audits of Financial Statements Prepared in Accordance with Special Purpose Frameworks.
Oct 23Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.
Oct 30Many Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links.
Nov 5Join CPA thought leader and peer reviewer Rob Cameron and learn ways to improve the outcome of your peer reviews while maximizing the value of your engagement workflow.