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How Microsoft was forced to open Office

InfoWorld - Simon Phipps - In Office 2013, Microsoft was compelled to support the true ODF format as well as the PDF format. Here's how open source won.

In a blog post earlier this week, Microsoft's manager for Office standards Jim Thatcher described upcoming changes to Office:

In the next release of Office, we have added two additional formats for use: Strict Open XML and Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2. We have also added support for opening PDF documents so they can be edited within Word and saved to any supported format. By adding support for these standardized document formats, Microsoft Office 2013 provides users with more choice for office document interoperability.

In those dry words we find echoes of a history lesson that demonstrates the power of open source to create valuable competition and innovation in software markets. File formats may not be the most obviously exciting topic, but this announcement casts light onto two important facts about open source: First, open source software can be the perfect competitive pacesetter. Second, open source innovation provides giant's shoulders upon which others can stand.