[ALUG] MS Office file formats

Mark Rogers mark at more-solutions.co.uk
Tue Jun 13 15:07:46 BST 2017

On 13 June 2017 at 11:50, Noel Galer <noel at abasys.co.uk> wrote:
> Personally, I think it is a cynical attempt to keep one step ahead of an
> 'Open' format, in order to keep the world hooked on MS Office and the
> spiralling costs.

It wasn't so much cynical as blatant (not that the two are mutually
exclusive). From memory parts of the spec basically define behaviour
as "doing what Word does", and large parts of the .docx are just
binary blobs that are no more open than .doc was. As I recall MS had
to buy their way onto standards bodies to influence the
standardisation process?

.odf is a much better format but it wasn't designed by Microsoft for
Microsoft's purposes so wasn't "suitable". Office is, basically, the
Microsoft cash cow and far more important to it that Windows I think.
Not that I have a problem with MS behaving in its own interest, I do
however have a problem with the rest of the world letting them get
away with it...

But in answer to Phil's OP, as I understand it Office 2013 XML is the
latest format and is the one you should be using for your purposes.
Note that compatibility is OK but not perfect (and the same is true
between Office versions, so that points to failings in the spec rather
than the implementations). I think that .odf is better although last I
checked the MS Office implementation of .odf was pretty poor.

In truth there isn't one good office document format that is really
good for interoperability. PDF is better unless the recipient needs to
edit it, in which case unfortunately using the same software as the
recipient is the only reliable option. But I haven't had Office for
years now and get on fine with LibreOffice (sharing docs with other
people who use various other word processors).

Mark Rogers // More Solutions Ltd (Peterborough Office) // 0844 251 1450
Registered in England (0456 0902) 21 Drakes Mews, Milton Keynes, MK8 0ER

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