After the appearance of initial information on the details of the next generation of Microsoft's second world known software - Office 12, the company seems to periodically impress the IT community with new amazing features and changes expected in MS Office 12. The official release of MS office suite will take place approximately in the second half of the next year, but preview information will be available on the Microsoft official web site in the nearest future.
Meantime some of the MS developers announced that Office 12 will introduce completely new file formats, based on the specially designed XML (Extensible Markup Language) technology. The most surprising thing is that new office file formats will be open. That means Microsoft is on the way to present fully-documented, royalty free formats for the next generation of Word, Excel and Power Point. New format is called Microsoft Office Open XML.
Being based on the XML language, new MS file format will provide the increased interoperability of the features of documents, created in Office 12 Suite. The structure, layouts and rules of the documents will be open, which will enable other applications to access these documents. For example, databases like MySQL will be able to address new Office documents for queries or data entry. All these will make possible close integration between Office documents and other applications, including specific business and corporate software.
The new format will be more compact due to integrated ZIP compression feature. The usage of ZIP allows not only to reduce files size but also to increase significantly the security and recovery of the data contained in Open XML files. ZIP technology provides modular structure of files, and thus, when some part of the file is damaged, the user is still able to open the undamaged parts of the file and work with them. The new format has a built-in facility that can automatically detect damage, segmenting files into components that can be managed and repaired independently.
The only concern with all these new open formats which may arise among users at present is how it will work with existing MS office formats. As the Microsoft representatives declare, there will be specially designed updates, which will enable the users of the previous versions to work with new file formats. Besides, the built-in converter will allow converting the documents from traditional Office formats into new Office Open XML.
The same applies to users of alternative office suites, i.e. OpenOffice. They will need additional converters to transform the files from new MS formats into those supported by their applications.
It is interesting that Office Open XML support will be realized in new Macintosh Office Suite.
That will improve the interoperability between two basic systems - Microsoft Office and Macintosh Office.
These new trends that include XML support, open program code and open-source applications prove that today's IT community requires new approaches to software development. People increasingly prefer the applications that are easy to interoperate and adapt to corporate or personal needs, and that are not strictly bound to the standards of specific companies.