Microsoft today announced that it is adopting XML, a text-based standard defined by the W3C, as the default file format for the next major version of its Microsoft Office software, currently codenamed "Office 12."
Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President of Microsoft Office, says, "We’re about to release new technology that has the potential to make a hugely positive impact on workers’ effectiveness and productivity without requiring a minute of additional training on their part. We’re very excited about that."
Iin a Q&A with Microsoft’s PressPass, Sinofsky explains how making XML the default file format will help customers cut costs for data storage and bandwidth, improve security and boost data recovery:
There’s more we can do to give people even greater control over their information, their time, their jobs and their results. The next version of Microsoft Office software, code-named "Office 12," does this. The introduction of a default XML format, Microsoft Office XML Open Format, is one of our key innovations.
XML enables companies to capture information so it can be repurposed and reused however and whenever the organization needs to use it, regardless of platform. Building on XML support in Microsoft Office, customers can improve data flow throughout their organizations. They can build customized business process and productivity solutions that help information workers make a greater impact on their business.
The Microsoft Office XML Open Format introduces significantly enhanced XML formats for Microsoft Word and Excel, and the first XML format for Microsoft PowerPoint. The formats use consistent, application-specific XML markup and are completely based on XML and use industry-standard ZIP-compression technology.
The new formats improve file and data management, data recovery, and interoperability with line-of-business systems beyond what’s possible with Office 2003 binary files. And any program that supports XML — it doesn’t have to be part of Office or even from Microsoft — can access and work with data in the new file format. Because the information is stored in XML, customers can use standard transformations to extract or repurpose the file data.
We made it a priority to ensure that customers and the industry at large can adopt "Office 12" with the least effort possible, benefit from its new file format, and continue to gain maximum benefit from their existing Microsoft Office files. So, the first thing that flows from that effort is full backward compatibility with the versions of Microsoft Office that the vast majority of people and businesses are already using: Office 2000, Office XP, and Office 2003. Customers who use these versions can download a innovative, free patch we created that allows them to open, edit and save files using the new format from within their earlier versions of Office.
A key benefit of the new format is substantially smaller file sizes — up to 75-percent smaller than comparable Office 2003 files. This is one of the advantages we get out of using the combination of XML and ZIP technologies for storing our files. Since XML is a text based format which compresses very well, and the ZIP container supports compressing the contents, we are able to achieve these significant reductions in file size.
Published in: Microsoft on 2005-06-02