Word 2007 and Open Office

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Jul 13, 2006 6:10 PM EDT
LXer; By Sal Paradise
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LXer Feature: 13-Jul-2006

Microsoft appear to be up their old tricks again. This time it's the "let's work with odt to show how much we care" farce. If you work in an office you probably need to pay attention to this.

I've posted a couple of comments on this but it seems to have slipped by unnoticed, so I thought I'd put a short story together.

I have a beta version of Office 2007 at home and this morning I was playing around with formatting. Here's what I found.
I created a .doc in Word 2007. I used a variety of fonts and sizes of fonts to create it. I saved it as .doc, .rtf and .docx.
I then opened, or tried to, the resultant files in OpenOffice Writer.
The .doc opened fine and displayed the document with the formatting as I had made it on Word. The .rtf file opened as expected and the .docx wouldn't open at all. I expected this to be the case.

I then saved the .doc as an .odt file in OOWriter and transferred it to the Windows machine and opened it via the Word2007 odt addon. After Word had converted it, it opened in Word and looked exactly the same as when I created it. I then saved it back to .doc (save as .odt is not working (at present?).
I then transferred the saved .doc back to the Linux box and opened it in OOWriter and all the formatting had gone.

This is a stupid dirty trick (as far as I can tell). It basically means that Word (as it stands now) is deliberately stripping away the formatting in .odt files when it saves them to .doc (currently the only format that OOWriter can work with from Word). It's not that Word can't render the formatting from an odt file, just that it strips it away when saving back to .doc. Bear in mind that this part of the process does not require the odt addon.

This makes Word2007 completely incompatible with OpenOffice and will, if this is not sorted out, make working on files between the two suites impossible. Imagine the scene. Your department uses OpenOffice, maybe because you are in the charity or voluntary sector or because you live in a poor country that can't afford MSOffice prices, and you spend ages creating a document that you send to someone with Office2007 (if it ever gets released). They open it, work on it and save it to .doc and send it back. All your formatting is gone.

This will further polarise the Office world. Rich countries and government departments will be using Office 2007 reasonably soon. This will impact the OpenSource world and force some to abandon the idea of using OpenOffice unless Microsoft can be made to make Word save to .doc from .odt properly.

Of course, all this is done using beta level software (on the Windows machine) and this may be known about and there may be plans to sort this out.
On the other hand it feels like MS is making it as HARD as possible for people to use .odt and if this is the case, and historically this is the way MS tend to behave, then start making a fuss.
As loud as you can.

» Read more about: Story Type: LXer Features; Groups: Community, Microsoft, OpenOffice.org

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first response freelsjd 17 5,484 Jul 17, 2006 7:01 AM

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