Microsoft Corporation Private Limited has announced its plans to make it even easier to obtain the documentation for its Office binary file formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt). On February 15, 2008, Microsoft will make the information broadly available via Microsoft.com, as well as place these formats under the Open Specification Promise (OSP).
The binary format documentation has actually been available since 2006. Those who wished to obtain it could send an email to Microsoft and get it on a royalty-free basis and use it to develop any product. Explaining the development, Vijay Kapur, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India said, “Since 2006, hundreds of companies - including IBM and SUN - and government institutions have requested and received the format documentation on a royalty free basis; and are currently working with it. Nevertheless, National Bodies, including the Bureau of Indian Standards, asked that we make it even easier to obtain this information, so we are now making it freely available on the web”.
Going forward, the Binary Formats will be treated in the same manner as Open XML formats by bringing them under the Open Specification Promise. The Open Specification Promise means that any necessary Microsoft patent anywhere in the world can be used, free of charge, to implement all or part of the binary formats, without requiring an agreement to be signed or any notice be given to Microsoft. This makes it very easy for anyone to work with the formats. Microsoft will also sponsor an open source development project on SourceForge (https://sourceforge.net/) to create tools, as well as offer guidance and documentation that will enable users to perform one-way translation of the binary formats to the DIS 29500 (Ecma 376 - Office Open XML).
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