Microsoft 's Steps Towards Interoperability And we all stood back and applauded heartily as the giant knelt down and handed over the blueprints to his castle...what? you didn't applaud too? Yesterday, Microsoft announced the release of Version 1.0 technical documentation for Microsoft Office 2007, SharePoint 2007 and Exchange 2007 as an effort to drive greater interoperability and foster a stronger open relationship with their developer and partner communities. They also posted over 5000 pages of technical documentation on Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint binary file formats on the MSDN site royalty-free basis under Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (OSP). This is a good thing isn't it? It clearly demonstrates Microsoft's commitment to interoperability and data portability. Not everyone agrees...

The Commitment of Interoperability

Microsoft has its own website dedicated to the discussion of Interoperability. Their stated approach? Interoperability by Design: "By design entails not only engineering excellence in our products, but also includes community collaboration with customers, partners, and competitors; providing access to our technologies through licensing and translation tools; and by engaging in standards-setting activities." The announcement yesterday is a step towards interoperability. It comes in three initiatives: * Version 1 technical docs: The release of Version 1.0 technical documentation for their most high-volume products -- Office 2007, SharePoint 2007 and Exchange 2007. A preliminary version of this documentation was released in April - this latest version has been updated based on community feedback. The documentation covers the protocols for each product and will help developers understand how the products talk to each other, as well as help them develop new applications that can integrate with these products. * 5000 pages of technical docs on Office binaries: Covering the binary file formats binary .doc, .xls, .xlsb and .ppt, developers will now be able to read and write files in these formats - a good move towards sharing data across applications. * Several new Document Interoperability Initiative Projects: Three new initiatives include: working with the Beihang University to develop Uniform Office Format (UOF) translators for Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint, designing a new translator to read from Open XML to HTML and Developing PowerTools PowerShell commands for Open XML. Along with the release of the Version 1 technical documentation for Office, SharePoint and Exchange, Microsoft