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Corel Announces "Have it Your Way" Format Strategy

OpenDocument and OOXML

In an excellent example of "better late than never," Corel Corporation announced this morning that it's next release of its flagship Corel WordPerfect Office suite will provide open, view and edit support for ODF – and for Office OpenXML (OOXML), the format submitted to Ecma for adoption, as well.  The announcement states that the new functionality will be just a "first step towards a comprehensive set of functionality for both formats," but does not specify what actions might follow, or when.

Corel was one of the original ODF committee members at OASIS, the developer of ODF, and attended a strategy meeting of ODF proponents at an IBM facility in Armonk, NY ion November 4 of 2005, but then declined to commit to support ODF.  Instead, it adopted a "wait and see" attitude.

In its announcement this morning, Corel is positioning itself as a neutral in the current format competition between Microsoft, on the one hand, and a band of disparate allies on the other that support ODF:  Major vendors IBM and Sun, each with an ODF-compliant offering, various proprietary and open source office suite vendors that support ODF, Google (with its Writely-based on-line services), and a variety of other supporters most easily identified by viewing the membership list of the ODF Alliance.

Corel's press release explains its new positioning as follows:

Supporting both ODF and OOXML places Corel in a unique format-neutral position, independent of Microsoft, Adobe and other vendors’ efforts to propagate their respective standards. This format-neutral approach allows Corel to focus directly on addressing the needs of customers, whose adoption choices will determine which formats will become most relevant. Corel is the only vendor to take such an approach.

The new release will reach the market in "mid 2007."  Like Microsoft before it, when it offered OOXML to Ecma, Corel states that its decision is focused in particular at its government customers, which in the case of Corel represents a much larger percentage of its customer base than is the case with Microsoft.

Richard Carriere, General Manager of Office Productivity at Corel, offers the following "have it your way" (or both ways, if you want) quote in the press release:

Because it is free, truly open and certified as an ISO standard, many customers see ODF as the most promising format for the future of office productivity. Yet upon the debut of Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft OOXML will immediately experience broad dissemination. Corel’s unique format-neutral approach ideally positions WordPerfect Office to address demand for both formats, giving us the ability to serve customers in a way other vendors can’t."

Unlike Corel's earlier decision not to announce support for ODF, its new strategy would seem to make excellent sense, providing its existing government customers with an excellent rationale for remaining in the Corel camp, and giving other potential public customers a trusted, fully featured product to consider in contrast to Microsoft Office. 

Currently, the only ODF compliant product that includes large-vendor service is Sun's more recently developed StarOffice office suite.  And with the refusal of Microsoft to provide native support for saving to ODF, Microsoft customers will need to use plugins that have yet to reach the marketplace, and which may not provide completely seamless conversion.

Corel WordPerfect, in contrast, will offer an all-purpose capability to deal with documents in either format, as well as a hedge against the future trend of the market in one direction or the other.  Or, as Corel states in its press release:

Corel's pragmatic approach to emergent XML file formats provides customers with maximum flexibility, lowers costs and reduces risk by insulating customers against committing to a standard that may not become adopted.

It all makes perfect sense, just as it would have a year ago.  The only question is why it took so long, especially given the fact that Sun has been aggressively promoting its StarOffice product suite to government customers, and OpenOffice.org, in particular among open source software that supports ODF, has also met with success in the marketplace.

The Corel announcement is good news for ODF, as it constitutes yet another ratification of the credibility of that format in the marketplace today, and comes on the heels of a continuing series of announcements around the world of adoptions and trials at the city, state and national level.

I expect to be in touch with Richard Carriere later this week, and will be back with further news when I do.

The full custom text of the Corel press release is below. 

For further blog entries on ODF, click here

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Corel WordPerfect Office To Support Open Document Format and Microsoft Office Open XML

Leading Office Suite Alternative Adopts Multi-Format Approach To Provide

Maximum Compatibility and Archival Options

Ottawa, Canada – November 29, 2006 – Corel Corporation (NASDAQ:CREL; TSX:CRE) today announced that Corel® WordPerfect® Office will be updated to support new XML-based file formats, the OASIS Open Document Format (ODF) and Microsoft® Office Open XML (OOXML).

Beginning in mid 2007, Corel will provide open, view and edit support for OOXML and ODF as a first step towards a comprehensive set of functionality for both formats.

Supporting both ODF and OOXML places Corel in a unique format-neutral position, independent of Microsoft, Adobe and other vendors’ efforts to propagate their respective standards. This format-neutral approach allows Corel to focus directly on addressing the needs of customers, whose adoption choices will determine which formats will become most relevant. Corel is the only vendor to take such an approach.

"Corel is and will continue to be a strong supporter of open standards. The XML format roadmap for Corel WordPerfect Office reflects our clear focus on responding to the needs of our customers, especially those in government who are making significant efforts to adopt open standards," said Richard Carriere, General Manager of Office Productivity at Corel. "Because it is free, truly open and certified as an ISO standard, many customers see ODF as the most promising format for the future of office productivity. Yet upon the debut of Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft OOXML will immediately experience broad dissemination. Corel’s unique format-neutral approach ideally positions WordPerfect Office to address demand for both formats, giving us the ability to serve customers in a way other vendors can’t."

Corel's pragmatic approach to emergent XML file formats provides customers with maximum flexibility, lowers costs and reduces risk by insulating customers against committing to a standard that may not become adopted.

"Today it is far from clear which of these formats will be adopted by productivity customers, or indeed if we’ll simply need to continue working with multiple file formats," said Carriere. "Corel WordPerfect Office already supports widely adopted standards such as PDF, plus many proprietary formats including Microsoft Office’s binary formats. Adding OOXML and ODF support means Corel can flexibly address customers’ needs, regardless of the formats they choose going forward."

As part of its ongoing commitment to standards, Corel will continue to engage with the ODF community and to encourage the adoption of open standards. Corel is a member of OASIS and the ODF Alliance and one of its developers was among the original authors of the OASIS Open Document Format specification.

Corel WordPerfect Office X3 is the world’s leading alternative to Microsoft Office, and the world’s only office suite to import, edit and export PDF word processing documents. Corel WordPerfect Office also offers powerful and scalable XML capabilities and XML publishing has formed an integral component of the suite since 1999.

For more information on Corel WordPerfect Office X3 or other Corel products, please visit www.corel.com.

 

 
Corel Announces "Have it Your Way" Format Strategy | 3 comments | Create New Account
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Corel Announces "Have it Your Way" Format Strategy
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 09:08 AM CST
"Beginning in mid 2007, Corel will provide open, view and edit support for OOXML and ODF as a first step towards a comprehensive set of functionality for both formats."

Note that Corel did not say "save", nor give any anticipated timescale for the next steps. My reading of this is an inbound filter from ODF to Corels suppoted formats only - no save to ODF.
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no,that's not my way....
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 22 2008 @ 10:36 PM CDT
soory!
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