The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about Microsoft Office 2007, including the new OpenXML file format. In a recent Windows IT Pro magazine network WinInfo Daily Update, Paul Thurrott reported that the competing OpenDocument Foundation has announced a plug-in for Microsoft Office that will let users open and save documents natively in the open-source OpenDocument format (ODF), which has recently been standardised and is supported by IBM and Sun Microsystems. The plug-in, which has been in development for about a year, makes OpenDocument documents seem as if they’re native to Office. Add Adobe’s portable document format (PDF) and Microsoft’s XML paper specification (XPS – formerly codenamed Metro) into the mix and we have plenty of scope for document confusion.

Both OpenXML and ODF are open standards that are freely licensed but it remains to see whether either will become dominant. I have a feeling that we’ll have competing XML-based document standards to grapple with for many years to come.

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