Microsoft answers interoperability concerns

Microsoft answers interoperability concerns

Microsoft Australia's CTO discusses motives behind interoperability principles and what they mean for Aussie IT managers

The launch of Microsoft's new interoperability principles have been both cautiously welcomed and sceptically scrutinised as the company goes about convincing the IT industry that it is genuine in its pursuit to provide interoperability with rival products, more consumer choice, less vendor lock-in and greater collaboration with the open source community.

(See FAQ: Office 14 and Microsoft's support for ODF

Recent announcements, like the addition of support for ODF and Adobe PDF in its Office productivity suite, the sponsoring of the Open Source Census and the release of the first Open XML SDK following OOXML's approval as an ISO standard, appear to mark a new era in the history of the monolith that is Microsoft, even though organisations like the European Union and the ODF alliance remain cautious.

Computerworld spoke to Microsoft Australia CTO Greg Stone, to find out the motives behind the new interoperability principles and the impact they will have on IT managers and developers.

Describe briefly Microsoft's new interoperability principles, and what affect they will have on Microsoft customers, IT managers, developers and consumers?

Greg Stone: We announced back in March that we'd implement four new interoperability principles and corresponding actions across our high-volume products, including Windows Vista (including the .NET Framework), Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007. Future versions of these products will also be covered.

The principles ensure open connections and compatibility between Microsoft and other third-party products, and give developers and customers the ability to access data stored in our products and re-use it in these other applications.

At the same time, we're also committing to collaboratively develop and implement standards within our high-volume products, and to increase communications with customer, IT and open source communities to drive a collaborative approach to address interoperability challenges.

As individuals put more and more records online and share more documents, interoperability is increasingly important to them. Having our systems designed from the outset to be easily interoperable with other products and systems is also emerging as critical for enterprises, particularly in Australia where it is becoming a key requirement to satisfy in the product procurement process.

Microsoft said it will not have support for the current ISO specific for OOXML until it releases the next version of Office, code-named Office 14. Any hint on when we can expect Office 14?

We have nothing to share at this time regarding the release date of the next version of Office.

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