Microsoft says Office 2007 XML support coming to Macs eventually

“The Mac BU WILL issue free, downloadable file format converters that allow users to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format. We announced that publicly at WWDC, and nothing has changed,” Sheridan Jones writes on Microsoft’s Office for Mac Blog.

Jones writes, “Timing: We’re working on our file format converters as I write. We had to wait until Office 2007 bits and the new file format itself were locked down. During this time, we spent the last year and a half prepping and planning for our own development of file format converters for Office for Mac. This included the basic supporting work of a rich and compatible XML parser, code to understand the new package structure, and beginning work on reading and writing early development versions of the file format. So now that Office for Windows has been released, we are working on completing compatibility with the released formats, while also completing other major work such as moving our codebase to the Intel platform, which we have discussed at some length on this very blog and elsewhere. We are running on target and expect to release a free public beta version of the file format converters in Spring 2007, with final converters available six to eight weeks after we launch our next version of Office for Mac (which, as previously reported, will be available 6-8 months after general availability of Win Office.) The next version of Office for Mac will natively read the Open XML Format; users of the current version of Office will have converters in order to maintain compatibility with the new Office for Windows.”

Jones writes, “There will be a delta between general availability of Win Office (January) and converters from MacBU (expected late March/early April.) We realize this will be an inconvenience for some of you (trust me, we know – 90% of Microsoft has been dogfooding Office 2007 for many months, and we in the MacBU are well used to asking for down-reved versions ourselves). For now, we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a “Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document” (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The lumbering, bloated, mess of an office suite is exceeded only in “lumbering, bloated, messiness” by the company that produces it. Jones needs to use her Mac to look up the word “delta,” by the way. She means “gulf,” we think. There should be zero lag time for these converters if the company responsible was operating properly. This isn’t that hard, especially if you produced the format in the first place. Microsoft is a mess.

Fact: A large majority of people think the “blue e” is the Internet. Asking them to save their documents in what they will believe to be a “special” format is akin to banging your head on the nearest wall nonstop. These people won’t save their documents in a compatible format reliably, if at all. All they will really do is end up believing that “those Apples aren’t compatible. I’d never get one of those.” Surely Microsoft has no problem with that misperception getting widespread release for 3-4 months.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Microsoft’s Office 2007 for Windows saves documents in Mac-incompatible format – December 05, 2006
Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003


  1. I still say, that although the Mac BU will eventually create the converters necessary to translate Office XML’s, the very fact there is this ‘pause’ is a coded message to Apple from Microsoft.

    That message is, “don’t mess with us, because we have you by the balls with Mac Office. We can change things any time we like.”

    The message I would say to Redmond is, “Neo Office on all new Mac’s, and here’s iWork 07 with a full complement of Office app-killers.”

  2. Hey, lets give these guys a break, OK? I mean they have to live with Microsoft Redmond too. Gee, that is scary. Working at Microsoft and having to deal with Microsoft as the “evil twin” at the same time.

    Weird. : -)

    I mean it could be worse. These guys could report directly to Steve Balmer too!!! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />


  3. “Dogfooding” refers to using the software that one creates in the beta test stages and especially thereafter. Software developers are often criticized for not using their own software on a daily basis and thus not really understanding how it is to operate and where to improve it. The expression comes from early, live TV commercials for dog food when the dog occasionally refused to eat the chow. “Does the dog eat the dog food?” came to mean “do they really like the product?”

    MDN MW: “feed”

  4. I gotta defend MS here.

    First, they’re opening the Office XML standard to anybody who wants to use it–including Apple. I think they even invited other parties, like Apple, to consult on the format. This is a very good thing going forward, as hopefully the industry can just adopt this as a standard format for office-type documents, in the same way that we have HTML for browsers and SMTP for email. It means that Apple or anybody else could develop an office suite that’s totally compatible with MS, and then attempt to differentiate itself on the basis of workflow/ease of use/etc.

    Second, making this shift to this standard under the hood is a major undertaking, and given that the Windows and Mac versions are different, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that there’s a lag. Yes, it’s less than ideal, but the adoption rate of Office 2007 is likely to be fairly slow anyway, which means the real-world impact of this shift won’t be all that big.

  5. This converter needs to be integrated into the next version of Office for Mac, just as seamless as the current version.

    I wouldn’t sweat this one. There are very, very few companies that are going to migrate to Office 2007 right away, and even the ones that do will have to save their files in the older format just for Office 2003 for Windows users to access! This “delta” she speaks of becomes less relevant as a result. None of my clients are upgrading to 2007 or Vista right away anyway, so I could give a shit.

    Besides, we can run Office 2007 on our Macs now anyway if we have to, so who gives a rat’s ass?

  6. Longhorn was due eventually, and we all know what happened there. If Microsoft never issues a release date, the product will alwalys be made availabl…eventually. Pardon my skepticism, I only have history to rely upon.

  7. I’m sure MDN is just being toungue-in-cheek, but her use of “delta” is correct. It means a finite increment of time (between the release of Office 2007 and the related Mac converters). Love the computer jargon! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

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