Microsoft Office 2010 Support for ISO/IEC 29500
Summary: The Open XML format has enjoyed significant success since its ratification as a standard by ECMA in 2006 and ISO/IEC in 2008. Microsoft implemented ISO/IEC 29500 in Microsoft Office 2010 as the default file format, so that Office 2010 files are compliant with the ISO/IEC 29500 transitional conformance class. This article explains the work Microsoft performed to make Office 2010 compliant with the ISO/IEC 29500 standard. This article also provides information about the success of Open XML in terms of its adoption by vendors and organizations across the industry.
Applies to: Microsoft Office 2010
Implementing ISO/IEC 29500 in Office 2010
The 2007 Microsoft Office system generated ECMA-376 First Edition files, which was the precursor to the ISO/IEC 29500 standard. The first step to implementing ISO/IEC 29500 in Office 2010 was to evaluate and compare the files that were generated in the 2007 Office release with the ISO/IEC 29500 standard. After the differences in syntax were identified, resulting from either updates to the software or changes in the standard, Microsoft began making the appropriate changes as required to make the output compliant to the ISO/IEC 29500 standard.
In most cases, the software updates were made to address issues in specific scenarios. For example, in certain circumstances, Microsoft Word would write out the oMath element before the rFonts element, whereas the standard clearly states that the oMath element should be written out after the rFonts element. This issue was simple to fix and is an example of many of the changes that were made.
Because Microsoft was changing some of the syntax of the files that Office 2010 writes, Microsoft also worked to ensure that customers using versions earlier than Office 2010 could continue to work with files by using the new syntax. Microsoft included fixes in the 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2) to ensure continued compatibility. Also, Microsoft updated the compatibility packs for older versions of Microsoft Office. Therefore, if customers have the 2007 Microsoft Office suite SP2 or the latest compatibility pack, the experience of working with files created by Office 2010 will be the same as working with files created by the 2007 Office release.
Accepting Recommendations from the Standards Community
In addition to ensuring syntax-compliance of the files generated, Microsoft examined many of the accepted recommendations that various national bodies made during the ISO ratification process for Open XML, and identified important ones to support in Office 2010. Some of the recommendations implemented include:
Moreover, an investment was made related to the dependency that the 2007 Office release has on Vector Markup Language (VML). Feedback during the ratification process clearly indicated that depending on VML was a difficult requirement for other implementers. To better meet the needs of those implementers, Microsoft set out to reduce the Microsoft Office dependency on VML, and made great strides moving to the newer DrawingML standard. Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, for example, almost never uses VML as its primary method of representing drawing elements.
Postponing the ISO 8601 Date/Time Syntax Recommendation
During the ratification process, there were many requests to add support for using the ISO 8601 date/time syntax for expressing dates in spreadsheets. Microsoft Excel 2010 Beta 1 included support for this syntax. However, after consultations with Working Group 4 (WG4) of Subcommittee 34 (SC 34) of Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1), Microsoft concluded that there were significant issues in how ISO/IEC 29500 incorporated ISO 8601 date/time syntax. Based on the conclusion, Microsoft removed support from the final version of Excel 2010, and WG4 created an amendment intended to remove ISO 8601 support from transitional documents and improve its specification in a number of other ways. Microsoft is working with the international standards community to determine whether to implement ISO 8601 date/time syntax in a future release of Excel or wait for updates to the ISO 8601 specification.
Adoption and Implementation of Open XML by Vendors and Organizations
As tens of millions of users enjoy the benefits of Open XML worldwide, the format has seen broad adoption across multiple technology platforms and support by numerous vendors and organizations. Vendors such as Novell, Apple, IBM, and Corel, as well as organizations like Gnome and OpenOffice.org, have developed their products to work effectively with Open XML. These vendors and communities have implemented broad cross-platform interoperability of Open XML. Also, industry groups, such as the Open XML Developer Group, bring diverse people and organizations, and their respective points of view, together to enable sustainable, far-reaching interoperability for Open XML across multiple platforms.
In addition to being the default document format for Microsoft Office, Open XML is supported by dozens of vendors and organizations in their desktop productivity suites, including:
Open XML is also supported by various vendors and organizations in their software tools, including:
Microsoft is committed to supporting file formats that conform to international standards. It consistently works with standards organizations, customers, partners, governments, and other interested parties to utilize file formats that promote interoperability.