Microsoft Further Opens Binary Office Formats, Server Protocols and More

In Febuary of this year, Microsoft announced its Interoparability Principals, a memo outlining the principals and goals that the company will aim to achieve as part of a broader standards-based interoparability and data portability initiative within the company. Today Microsoft have announced further actions it has taken towards complying with and following those interoperability goals it set out. The announcement today concerns:

  • Full documentation and tech specs of Office 2007 Protocols and formats
  • Tech docs for protocols in Sharepoint Server 2007
  • Tech docs for protocols in Exchange Server 2007
  • Furher and full documentation of brinary file formats used in Office (Word, Excel etc.)

In total, over 5,000 new pages of technical documents have been released today and have been added to the MSDN library for developers. This is a big step for Microsoft and firm proof that their support for open standards, data portability and interoperability extends to more than just press releases and announcements.

Interoperability and formats is now a whole section of the MSDN developer documentation, assisting developers in developing solutions that integrate with Microsoft client and server products. As part of the same initiative, Microsoft also announced three new tools that they have released in collaboration with other parties, they are:

  • Universal Office Format (UOF) adaptors (eg. read/write) for Excel and Powerpoint (sourceforge)
  • Open XML to HTML translator (codeplex)
  • PowerTools PowerShell commands for Open XML (codeplex)

I believe we really are seeing a new Microsoft here – and their actions are really starting to speak louder than their words. It wasn’t too long ago that it was almost impossible to imagine Microsoft releasing documentation for Office file formats, or collaborating on a universal format adaptor for Office on Sourceforge. Developers looking to find out more (and I certainly will be) should checkout the Open Specifications section of MSDN, which has been updated this morning.