Microsoft unexpectedly made an announcement yesterday that Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will include XML Paper Specification (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF), and Open Document Format (ODF) support once it is released in 2009. That’s pretty big news because, as you might recall, Adobe forced Microsoft to remove XPS & PDF support from Office 2007 when it was still in the Beta stage. Surprisingly, Microsoft complied despite other competitors having had this feature for years, such as OpenOffice.org. In the end Microsoft still offered the functionality, but as a separate download.
Office 2007 SP2 will also bring native support for ODF, which is often associated with the OpenOffice.org suite. As of right now Microsoft has a plug-in that offers conversion capabilities with the ODF format, but Office 2007 SP2 users will actually be able to set that as the default for saving new documents:
When using SP2, customers will be able to open, edit and save documents using ODF and save documents into the XPS and PDF fixed formats from directly within the application without having to install any other code. It will also allow customers to set ODF as the default file format for Office 2007.
This is a pretty big step for Microsoft, but it’s too bad these kind of features couldn’t have been included with the final release. In order for people to take advantage of these features they’ll have to download SP2 when it is released next year, but my guess is that people don’t update their Office 2007 as much as they should. On the bright side of things the next version of Office should include these features out-of-the-box.