Linux

File format war

At work, I’m currently helping out with a report. In our department, there is a mix of different OSes en office suites, mainly Mac OS X (MS Office 2008), Windows (Office 2003) and Linux (OpenOffice.org 2.4 and 3.0). Because of this, I very often get involved in the office file format mess these days.

Mac and Windows users never have heard of things like open standards and OpenOffice.org. They use whatever is used by default by their MS Office suite, which generally gives either proprietary doc files or docx files which are in practice almost as proprietary as doc (office 2008 docx definitely is not OpenXML!). While doc is pretty universal, docx is much more problematic, because it makes MS Office 20O3 users on Windows complain (of course they have never heard of the docx plug-in for Office 2003), and also OpenOffice.org does not know this file format perfectly yet (although it’s already good and very usable).

Microsoft admitted that OpenXML has lost the standard war. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that proprietary docx has won. The number of times I have received an OpenDocument file can be counted on one hand, but I see fairly often docx files passing here…

Anyway, I’m happy with OpenOffice.org: it can open all of the involved file formats, and can save in a format which everyone can read (which is unfortunately MS Office 2000/XP/2003 DOC/XLS/PPT formats). Now I should go find a way to get OpenOffice.org a bit more generally known on the department…