Not Quite There

It’s been a busy few weeks for anyone who uses office productivity suites – word processors, spreadsheets and the like. OpenOffice issued its newest version, and Microsoft released Service Pack 2, a free upgrade for anyone using MS Office 2007.

MS Office now supports the Open Document Format (ODF), a great help for those of us who use open source office suites, right?. Well, not quite. Microsoft and IBM (one of the major champions of ODF) are already arguing over standards.

Trouble is, there are two ODF standards out there. First, there’s the approved version. ODF v1.1 is the official standard, and MS Office is ODF v1.1 compliant.

Unfortunately, ODF v1.1 doesn’t define how to handle formulas. So when Excel opens a foreign spreadsheet, the formulas disappear, and only the raw numbers remain.

A newer standard which does define how to handle equations. But since ODF v1.2 is only proposed, not approved, Microsoft is sticking with v1.1.

And of course, MS Office versions earlier than 2007 can’t handle ODF at all.

On the bright side, many office suites allow users to convert ODF spreadsheets to MS Excel files, but interoperability isn’t quite there yet.

Here’s to speedy approval of v1.2.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.