Open XML support in older versions of Office

I was just reading this article in wired (,72403-0.html?tw=wn_technology_4) and it looks like there is still some misunderstanding about where Open XML is going to be supported. Here is the piece of the article I'm talking about:

Significantly, OOXML will not work with older versions of Microsoft Office, which alone could motivate some to upgrade.

"Microsoft's legacy formats give them a great ramp into whatever next thing they are selling. Even if it's herring," says Sam Hiser, vice president and director of business affairs at the OpenDocument Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the ODF standard.

Of course, as most of the readers on this blog know, even folks with older versions of Office can read and write the new file formats. There are free updates available today that allow you to do this:

It's funny that there is still this perception of a file format "war". Some folks in the other camp who often get quoted in these articles actually like to compare it to Star Wars where there is good against evil. I just don't see it. You can pick either format if you want. There are free translators in the works today that will allow MS Office users to open and save ODF files (, and Novell is adding Open XML support to Open Office. Corel already said they were going to support all of Open XML and the text part of ODF. Apple was one of the key members of the Ecma technical committee that standardized Open XML (and they've actually supported earlier versions of WordprocessingML for awhile now).

These formats are not about pushing a specific application, but instead about unlocking customer's data. That makes all applications more valuable because it allows for the data from those applications to interoperate with other applications and other systems.

The big thing I'm waiting for is other applications like OpenOffice to support custom defined schemas. This would mean that rather than simply sharing wordprocessing or spreadsheet information, we can share actual customer information. For example you could take health care data, or invoice data, or RFP data from one of the applications and move it over to the other without losing that semantic meaning. It would be like that demo many of you have seen me do where I take data from a table in Excel and move it over to Word where it's formatted more like a catalog.