Office productivity software may be as old as the hills, but it is only the last year or so that a serious standards war has started to be fought. And more battle lines have been drawn this week, with the OpenDocument Format gaining more global support.
Corel Corp, developer of the WordPerfect suite, went Swiss yesterday, saying that it will support both ODF and Microsoft Corp’s rival Open Office XML format.
Meanwhile, the ODF Alliance, a cross-vendor group set on promoting the format internationally, claimed that governments around the world are now officially supporting ODF, in at least one case on a national level and to the exclusion of Microsoft.
Brazil, for example, a long-time Microsoft antagonist due to its public support of open source software, has recommended ODF support for governmental agencies, saying that Microsoft Office formats should be transitioned out unless they start meeting recommended criteria.
According to machine-translated documents, the government does not recommend the .doc, .xls and .ppt formats, and only included them in its new standardization architecture, known as e-Ping, due to their current significant use in government institutions
The ODF Alliance also said that in India the Delhi state government’s tax office intends to use ODF, and that the Italian government is considering the format as an Italian national standard, as soon as ISO standardization is complete.
Closer to Microsoft’s home, Canadian Corel’s WordPerfect, long the also-ran in the office apps market, will have support for both ODF and OOXML by mid-2007, the company said yesterday.
Today it is far from clear which of these formats will be adopted by productivity customers, or indeed if we’ll simply need to continue working with multiple file formats, said Richard Carriere, general manager of Office Productivity at Corel, in a statement.
Because it is free, truly open and certified as an ISO standard, many customers see ODF as the most promising format for the future of office productivity, he said. Yet upon the debut of Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft OOXML will immediately experience broad dissemination.
So, with a shrug, the company will support both formats and let the customer decide what they want to use. WordPerfect already supports MS Office binaries and Adobe Systems Inc’s PDF format.