Microsoft’s Office 12 for Mac to get same new XML-based file formats as Office for Windows

“Microsoft said Thursday that it will introduce new XML-based file formats for its Excel, PowerPoint and Word applications when the company launches its Office 12 software package next year,” Matt Hines reports for CNET News. “Company officials said the move to replace Microsoft’s traditional binary file formats with XML-based versions as the default in Office 12 will let people more easily share information.” Full article here.

“Rick Shaut, a member of the Macintosh Office team, wrote in his Web log that the Macintosh version of Office 12 will also support the Office Open XML format announced Thursday for its Windows counterpart. He called the new features an ‘enormous undertaking’ by Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, and admitted they had fallen behind on XML support within the Office Suite. Also, for the first time in the history of Microsoft, both Windows and Mac units will be implementing major architectural changes to the software simultaneously,” Ed Oswald reports for BetaNews. “‘This means that Mac Office 12 will ship some time after Win Office 12, however I’m not at liberty to discuss projected ship dates or the currently planned delta between Win Office 12 and Mac Office 12,’ Shaut wrote.” Full article here.

“Mac Office 12 will support the new file formats as well. Also, as with Win Office, we’ll be producing converters for Office X and Office 2004. Some details have yet to be fully finalized, but we expect to ship converters that will provide full round-trip support for the new file formats in Office X and Office 2004,” Shaut wrote in his blog. Full article here.


  1. The implications are enormous. Microsoft managed to leverage their control of the formats into a monopoly, and this could turn out to be an extremely risky move for them. Office and Windows are their cash cows, and if people no longer felt compelled to use either product, this could be the beginning of the end for Microsoft in its current form.

    They certainly have the resources to re-invent themselves into a “solutions” company, a la IBM, but given their history, one wonders if anyone would willingly do business with them if the shackles that hold them in thrall to Redmond were removed.

  2. MS says “Let’s make sure nobody but our products can use your data” XML solution…. by using XML but adding a MS twist… like imap, kerberos… etc

  3. Sweet jesus. As if Word files aren’t big enough already. I have to believe that an XML-based data format is going to be a helluva lot bigger than the current binary format.

  4. You know, MS Office is a good program, but I long for the day, like many of you, when Apple comes up with a viable alternative to it. iWork is an anemic, almost embarrassing first effort. But like many works of art, patience with each brushstroke will yield something to behold. At least Microsoft is showing some interest in producing for the Mac platform. They could pull the plug altogether. This chess match between Apple and Microsoft is very interesting, and a bit concerning.

  5. I’m sure they’ll keep it proprietary to some extent. Meanwhile they’ll have the XML buzzword and sound like they’re being open.

    Go MS!

    Sorry if that sounds {cold}.

  6. If true, I will give MS endless credit.

    But sorry, I don’t buy it.

    Here’s why:

    1. A big feature of Office 12 is the ability for DRM office files by a corporation. (Example, a word doc cannot be viewed outside of a firewalled network at a corporation. Or, the ability to make documents not open or print after a week.)

    How would this be possible with a truly open document format?

    2. This is Microsoft, and as Viridian points out, the only way they built this monopoly was by having proprietary file format. Why would they ever give that advantage away?

    If this is really true, then MS has figured that they can’t really keep changing file formats like they have in the past–which is true–and open source guys are getting close to cracking the file formats, so they might as well open it up and get credit for it.

    Plus, this move would actually ensure a huge upgrade to the new Office, something MS has not been able to do for a long time.

    Either way, I am suspect. But I really hope they do this. So I can use an improved iWork from Apple and dump Office once and for all.

  7. I got a trial version of iWork in my Tiger box and I have found it very nice to work with, but its still lacking. It needs the ability to have multiple language libraries and kick Offices ass on top of that. Of course a spreadsheet program, and a simple drawing program. Just kill Appleworks and make iWork the new flagship productivity software. The only other thing I want in pages is a notebook feature like in Word 2004, its great for students. I dont care anything about XML in my documents, Id rather be able to save and edit PDFs.

  8. Why would MS give away their proprietary format?

    Think EU 5% per day fines. Changes perceptions really fast.

    But wait! It’s not XML, it’s Microsoft XML. Sorta like Microsoft Java. Looks like there is still some potential for fines.

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