Microsoft are now claiming (via Bran Jones who works on the Office team) that their new Office XML format will be put throught the ISO standards process. Something had to give - it was either this or adding support for OpenDoument to Office and this will keep a bit more distance between MS Office and OpenOffice.org.
(I wonder if the the ISO Standard will only come pakaged as a Windows executable, the way their preview release of the Microsoft XML schema for Word did? :)
If the formats do turn into capital-S Standards, and the licensing conditions on the shemas are truly open then this opens the way for Word documents to be considered for inclusion in sustainable digital repositories, provided two things happen:
- There is reliable, free code that can render the documents that can be archived with them.
- There are templates that ensure interoperability with other word processors, and/or XML schemas. That is, the documents use the core of the standard, which is compatible with OpenDocument, XHTML, DocBook and so on.