Users of Microsoft’s Word 2003 are now able to read, edit and save files in ODF format (OpenDocument).  The OpenDocument format is based on XML but can also take the form of a compressed archive which in turn contains files (graphics), directories and other useful data.  Despite the OpenDocument standard being officially published as an ISO standard in November of 2006 and the draft standard being approved for ISO certification in May; Microsoft still refuse to give users of Microsoft Office the built-in ability to work with these files.  Rather than jumping on the bandwagon and bashing Microsoft for this I have done a little sniffing around and found that in fact Microsoft Office users can open and work with OpenDocument formats.

Sun, the company behind the popular open source suite OpenOffice have released an ODF plug-in for Microsoft Word 2003 which will allow working with text documents in the OpenDocument format.  It is also claimed that the final release will give the same interoperability to users of Excel and Powerpoint.

Microsoft themselves also financially support a project which enables Microsoft Word users to work with OpenDocument files. The ODF Add-in for Microsoft Word is a SourceForge project offering a plug-in which works with Microsoft Word XP/2003/2007.  It’s interesting to see Microsoft officially supporting such a project; I wonder why they don’t just add OpenDocument support to the Office suite as standard.