Novell Joins Microsoft in ODF Effort

It’s no secret and not any surprise that Microsoft is working on
interoperability with the Open Document Format (ODF). It is, after all, an effort
that has been under way since at least July.

Interoperability is also a key part of the November deal between Microsoft and Novell. One of the fruits of that deal
is that the ODF to Open XML effort now has the backing and assistance of

ODF is an OASIS standard based on the (OOo) XML format. ODF is the default file format for OOo.
Open XML is Microsoft’s new file format specification for Microsoft Office

In response to much criticism for governments around the world,
Microsoft launched the ODF to Open XML translator initiative in July of this year.

Justin Steinman, director of marketing for Linux and open platform solutions
for Novell, explained that Novell is now contributing its expertise to the
ODF to Open XML effort.

“We are the second-leading contributor to OOo after Sun and Microsoft, which
frankly needed some the assistance that we provided around working with OOo
on a technical level,” Steinman told

Novell will also be providing the ODF to Open XML translator with all
editions of OOo that ship with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) moving

Users won’t have to wait for SLED 11 to get Open XML. Novell
intends on shipping a patch update to the existing SLED 10 in early 2007
that will include the Open XML plug-in. Novell’s OpenSUSE distribution users
will be able to download and install the plug-in within the same timeframe.

It is unclear whether the ODF to Open XML plug-in will be picked up by
other Linux distributions or even the OOo project directly.

“I never want to speak for what the community will decide; that is their
decision. We clearly think this is a good product and we will commit it back
to OOo,” Steinman said. “I think we have some ability to influence, but it’s
a community decision and we respect the right of the community to include
what they want when they want.”

Though the interoperability deal with Microsoft isn’t the only reason
Novell is participating in the effort, Steinman noted that the Microsoft
agreement accelerated the process and it was an item on the table during the
negotiations. According to Steinman, patents do not play a role at all in the
ODF to Open XML translator effort, either.

Even before the formal interoperability agreement with Microsoft was in
place, Novell was actively working on making more Office functionality
available to its OOo users in SLED 10. One of the new features that SLED 10 provides users is the ability to run Excel Visual Basic
macros in OOo.

Steinman noted that as part of the ongoing efforts to improve
interoperability and functionality compatibility, Novell is now also working
on getting Microsoft Word Visual Basic macros to work in OOo.

Novell also still has a little bit of work to do to get some proper
recognition for its ODF to Open XML efforts.

The ODF to Open XML effort has its official development site on the open source repository. At press time, the project had
only Clever Age, Aztecsoft, DIaLOGIKa and Microsoft as listed
contributors to the effort.

Steinman noted that it’s just a typo and that Novell will “deal with it.”

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