Microsoft, welcome to the OpenDocument Format neighborhood!
By Peter Korn on May 21, 2008
Last November I noted that Microsoft and Novell would be working together to make some of their technologies accessible on UNIX, and I welcomed them to the UNIX accessibility neighborhood. Today it is time to welcome them to another neighborhood - that of the OASIS and ISO standard OpenDocument Format. It is also time to issue an invitation...
In their press release today Microsoft stated that Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 - to be released in the first half of 2009 - would support reading and writing OpenDocument Format v1.1. Microsoft further states in this release that it will join the OASIS OpenDocument Format Technical Committee, as well as the ISO/IEC working group engaged in ongoing maintenance of OpenDocument Format. Some choice quotes from the press release:
This means that sometime in 2009, users with disabilities will have yet another application option for reading and writing ODF files - they will be able to use Microsoft Office as shipped by Microsoft. This will supplement the options already available to people with disabilities for using ODF, including: IBM's Lotus Symphony on Windows with a variety of Windows AT applications, StarOffice and OpenOffice.org on Windows with several Windows AT applications, StarOffice and OpenOffice.org on UNIX systems with all of the UNIX AT applications, and the newly announced OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta on Macintosh with VoiceOver and other Macintosh AT applications. For folks who want to use Microsoft Office 2007 with ODF prior to their release in 2009 (as well as folks wanting to use an earlier version of Microsoft Office), there is also the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office, now at version 1.2.
And so it is time to issue an invitation. As co-chair of the OASIS OpenDocument Format Accessibility subcommittee, I would like to warmly we.come Rob Sinclair, Reed Shaffner, Gray Knowlton, and anyone else at Microsoft involved in accessibility and Microsoft Office to attend our subcommittee meetings and participate in our ongoing efforts in ODF accessibility. As a board member of the OASIS, Microsoft has always been able to participate in any OASIS technical committee or subcommittee. But in light of this recent move, I want to be sure they feel particularly welcome to do so!
Separately, you might enjoy an insightful perspective on Microsoft's decision in Simon Phipp's blog entry on the topic.