Interoperability in Action – Volume 1

I was thrilled with last week’s approval of the vote on Open XML. I certainly have been dreaming, along with others in the XML Community, about the use of XML with documents. Open XML, now being an ISO standard, is a great step forward.

Although Microsoft began work on interoperability many years ago, there is still much work to be done. I want to share with you a quick look at what’s going on. 

How will the roadmap be built?

From a technical perspective, interoperability is about listening to the issues facing the software industry.  Microsoft has established a few channels; one of the most important is our collaboration with the Interoperability Executive Customer Council (IECC).

iecc logo

The IECC is a customer advisory council consisting mainly of CIOs and CTOs of large enterprises and government departments from around the world. Launched almost two years ago, this has become one of our greatest sources of input. Because this channel primarily addresses large companies and government entities, we want to ensure we are receiving input from smaller software companies as well. Last week we launched the new Interoperability Forum. It’s an informal but very real way for you to engage with Microsoft about Interoperability issues.

Listening is great, but action is what it’s about.

With information from the IECC, the Forum and other sources, the next step is to put the plans into practice. The first step is working directly with the product engineering teams to figure out the best approach to solving issues, as well as build a long term Interoperability by design practice. Then very often, to find a solution requires us to work with other software vendors. To facilitate this approach, Microsoft works with many 3rd party partners and competitors (through dedicated partner programs focusing in Interoperability) such as with Sun and Novell, or through broader initiatives like the Interop Vendor Alliance (IVA).

So, what does all of this mean?

Microsoft is committed to building on the work the community has been doing to improve interoperability. We are listening to the IECC, and engaging in the Interoperability Forum (and other channels) and providing direction to Microsoft concerning matters such as which new or updated standards are most important for implementation in Microsoft’s products.  Most importantly, we are actively focusing on real-world interoperability scenarios, ensuring that multiple industry implementations of standards, open formats or protocols are a reality. I encourage you and your developers to take part in the discussion.

Later this week I will include more specifics about what we are doing through different Open Source projects. Stay tuned...

Jean Paoli, General Manager

Interoperability & XML Strategy