Microsoft Document Interop Initative Workshop on OOXML - Thoughts

November 2 2008

Thoughts on the workshop

  • The DII (Document Interop Initiative website -
  • Presentations by the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Teams on what they are doing with OOXML and testing going forward. No specific mention of Office 14 features or support
  • Microsoft wants to created testing documents that everyone can test with their implementations of OOXML
  • Microsoft seems far more interested in supporting both OOXML and ODF than anyone else out there. It seems most vendors are picking one file format or the other. Microsoft wants to continue to let OOXML to grow for their internal use but are very interesting in making sure ODF interop works as well. Nice change from what I have seen from Microsoft in the past
  • Microsoft employees are trained very well to not talk about anything that is not public knowledge. Now, the DII Workshop was not covered by any NDA's, so I understand. But even in back channel discussions I could barely get timeframes and versions out of them. Very different than IBM
  • The OOXML SDK is coming along nicely. 1.0 was mostly about the packaging of the OOXML files. 2.0 is about the specification of the files themselves ... its the version we can really use to build solutions with.
  • The OOXML SDK 2.0 should not be tied to the delivery of Office 14, but to the delivery of Office 2007 SP-2. We need a SDK that is usable for building OOXML solutions long before Office 14 ships .. that is supported. If that means Microsoft needs to pull out some of the validation and advanced features for a SDK 3.0 that ships with Office 14, I am OK with that. But doing the XML level spelunking we are doing now is just hard to maintain in production environments.
  • Microsoft seems to be playing shy and safe when it comes to working with the standards - I really think they are being a bit too timid.
  • PSC presented on our case study that uses OOXML to build PowerPoint presentations in mass. Andrew Schwantes and talked about the business problem, our solution, the technical details, and our wish list for OOXML and the SDK. The presentation is on

After talking with the non-Microsoft folks at the event, I have come to the conclusion that very few companies want to work with both OOXML and ODF. It seems they want to select one or the other. Now, that makes perfect sense for the end customer companies / users, but as a services firm, PSC will work with both. As our customers make a decision on which format to use internally, we will be able to work with them no matter the choice. I really like this positioning as it provides us flexibility and keeps us on both sides of the format wars.

Special thanks to Doug Mahugh for making this all happen.