Random Friday thoughts (from 30,000 feet)

Well I'm currently flying over Canada on my way back from Trondheim, Norway and the most recent Ecma face to face meetings hosted by StatOil. I was worried that the wireless internet support wouldn't be available but I guess the connexion service isn't going to stop until the end of the year. It's a bummer they aren't going to keep it going, but at least I can still take advantage of it for this flight (there's something really cool about having the ability to IM with my wife while I'm flying home).

We accomplished an incredible amount during the past 3 days of face to face meetings. There should be a status report sometime next week that explains all that was accomplished and what the state of the specification is. I'm really excited though about where we are and what we've accomplished over the past year.

Hell and back

The airport that you fly into for Trondheim is actually in a small town called "Hell," which of course led to a number of jokes during the week (obviously I couldn't resist either). Trondheim was a beautiful city about midway up the coast of Norway. I'm about a quarter Norwegian and it was my first chance to get back to the homeland. I lived in Iceland for a couple years, and have visited Sweden, but never made it over to Norway. Although I was only there for a short period of time, I was really impressed. Here are a couple pictures I took while walking down along the waterfront:

And here are a couple pictures I took on a tour we took of an old Norwegian village/farm:

Intel and Microsoft Partner to enable Office Open XML formats as key to sharing business information

Not sure if you've seen the news, but Intel and Microsoft are partnering to focus on integration of RosettaNet and the Office Open XML formats. Here's another great example of the power you get with the open formats. This is something that would have been nearly impossible to pull off with the legacy binary formats, but now that we've moved to XML a whole world of possibilities is now available. RosettaNet is all about sharing business data, and the Open XML formats help to unlock all that valuable data that exists in the billions of Office documents.

Murray Sargent's Blog

Murray Sargent, who I've already mentioned as being the key architect behind the new math support in Office 2007 recently posted about how he got into Technical Wordprocessing. As you can see, he has a huge amount of experience in the space, and the Office products have benefited greatly from his work for years. Here's a bit about how he got started:

When I finished my PhD in 1967, I went to Bell Labs to continue working on laser physics and after a year got seduced by the idea of labeling graphs with real built-up, i.e., 2D, mathematical expressions. To this end, I created the SCROLL language (string and character recording oriented logogrammatic language), which was the first language capable of "typesetting" mathematical equations on a computer. I published it in AFIPS Conf. Proc. 35:525-536, AFIPS Press, Montvale, N.J. (1970). Admittedly SCROLL's typography was pretty limited. For example, the user had the responsibility of spacing the math, in contrast with TeX, Word 2007, and other sophisticated systems. But it was the first program capable of displaying built-up math, and it was really fine for that time to be able to show nicely labeled results at various conferences.

Open XML formats in older versions of Office

Jon Bailor recently posted on the Word team blog site discussing the free updates that are provided to allow users of previous versions of Office to open and save files in the new Office Open XML formats. This was a huge effort, and we had a number of folks working specifically on this functionality. It's always exciting to see resources spent on an effort like this because it was so clearly the right thing to do. The file formats make Office a more valuable platform, and because of the free updates this is also the case for the existing base of Microsoft Office customers.

Zeyad Rajabi also has a post up on the Word team blog site about file format compatibility in Word 2007. He talks about the work that was done to make the migration to the new formats as easy as possible via compatibility modes.

Bulk Upgrade existing set of binary Office document into Office Open XML

I've had folks ask about this so I figured I'd link to some more information on the bulk upgrade tools that are going to be provided to allow migration from the old binary formats into the new Open XML formats. It's part of a larger tool called the OMPM (Office Migration Planning Manager) which allows you to quickly scan your networks for Office files and see which ones may need more attention during the upgrade process (ie files with VBA, etc.). http://technet2.microsoft.com/Office/en-us/library/d0373697-31f5-4fc5-8dd1-1b9d7f35842f1033.mspx?mfr=true

American Football

Well, I was unfortunately out of town for one of the best weekends of football in Seattle in quite some time. I was able to watch some of the Husky game from the airport and I'm really regretting missing that one. It was originally supposed to be at noon so I could have gone to the game and still made my flight, but they pushed it back to 4 or 5 so they could get it on TV. I was able to watch the Seahawk game from my hotel in Trondheim. There's a pretty cool service over the internet where as long as you are outside of the US, you can pay a fee and watch a streaming broadcast of the game. So, while I wasn't able to go to either game, I at least was able to follow along remotely.