Some pertinent quotes from Microsoft’s Brian Jones, thematic quotes made over a sustained period of time:
- “The Open XML formats were designed to be 100% backward compatible with the existing set of Office binary formats, and that was really a goal that we can’t compromise on.”
- “It needs to be 100% full fidelity”
- “[F]rom our point of view, in order to use an XML format as the *default* format for Office it needs to be 100% compatible”
- “We need to make sure that the format is documented 100% and there are no barrier to interoperability”
- “This format is 100% compatible with the existing base of Microsoft Office documents, so nobody will need to worry about losing features”
Get the idea?
Now these quotes were all made before OOXML was completed. I understand engineering and deadlines and such, and that things don’t always all get done as planned. But I would like to know, now that we have 1.5 OOXML “final draft”, and Office 2007 has released to shipping, is it indeed indeed indeed 100% backwards compatible.
Two simple questions. I’m hoping Microsoft or Ecma can give a straightforward and unequivocal answer:
1) Is the Office Open XML specification (1.5 “final draft”) 100% compatible with all legacy Microsoft Office documents, meaning that a 3rd party, using solely information in this specification (and publicly available open standards), can create a utility on a non-Windows platform, say Linux, to convert any legacy Office document into OOXML without loss of data, function or appearance?
2) Does the OOXML specification (1.5 “final draft”) document the format sufficiently for someone to create a 100% compatible editor (spreadsheet, word processor, presentation) implementation on a non-Windows platform, say Linux? By 100% compatible I mean that it can load and interpret and display all OOXML documents without loss of data, function or appearance?
I note that everything we’ve heard up to now merely says that OOXML was designed to be 100% compatible. But I’d like to hear whether it in fact succeeded at doing these things. That’s the important question, right? We can talk intent all we want, but the results are what counts.
I believe that the criterion should be whether a 3rd party can create a conversion tool and editor based on the documented format. That fact that Office itself may do a conversion is not proof of anything. They could submit a specification both incomplete and erroneous but still do a good conversion job in Office based on private information. The proof of sufficiency for the specification only comes with independent 3rd party implementations.
These are simple questions. I’m hoping for a simple answer.