Office 12 to have new file format

Scoble has announced that Microsoft is creating new XML-based file formats for Office 12.

On the surface, this looks really bad (anyone in the IT industry remembers the havoc the file format change in Office 97 caused). However…it may very well be one of the best decisions Microsoft has ever made.

Look at some of the details about these new formats from Brian Jones, one of the Office developers at Microsoft.

  • Open Format: Sounds like ANY program can create 100% fully compatible documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. and have Office read them. That also means any program in theory can open and view these files. A long time coming.
  • Compressed: The file format is compressed with ZIP, saving a ton of space. Quicker to e-mail, transfer, etc.
  • Robust: Less likely to have file corruption. I’m going to faint.
  • Backwards compatible: Versions 2000 and higher will be able to read this format with just a minor update. This will spread adoption real quick.

I never thought I’d say it, but Microsoft has made my day.

2 Replies to “Office 12 to have new file format”

  1. I still think that Microsoft should have gone with the OpenDocument XML format proposed by, which is also XML-based and in a zip file, and will be supported by 2.0 (the existing StarOffice XML will still work but won’t be the default). But then as it’s an open format it’s only a matter of time before implements it, I suppose.

    Backwards compatibility as far as 2000 is a big saving grace, though.

  2. While it would be great if Microsoft used the OpenOffice format, we have to be a realist on this.

    Microsoft for one wants to market their products and having their own file format (even though it is open) under their control is what they do best.

    Also keep in mind, their DRM scheme I suspect throws a whole another angle into this. I doubt they could have done it with the OpenOffice format.

    Still it is a major step in the right direction. Let’s hope things get even better.

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