APC mag reports that Microsoft Office 2007 makes use of Microsoft Office Open XML Formats, however there is nothing "open" about these formats to Office for Mac users. As I blogged about back in April, Microsoft is making use of four character file extensions such as .docx, .pptx and .xlsx. It seems like Microsoft wants to spur an industry-wide movement to XML based formats.. but why not use the already established ODF, Open Document Format?
In Microsoft's defense, they don't want to suddenly change how they've been doing things for years. Everyone recognizes a .doc file. Adding an x to the end will still make it recognizable for the average business user yet differentiate between the XML and non-XML based formats. However, there's lots of ruckus because Microsoft's new Open XML formats can't be read by Office for Mac clients and won't be able to until Microsoft's Mac Business Unit releases free, downloadable converters similar to the compatibility pack available for Office 2003 for Windows.
However, APC's Tim Gaden states there is some closure on this issue - not everyone is jumping on the Office 2007 bandwagon just yet.
Perhaps the only good news to come out of the announcement is the reluctance of businesses to upgrade. According to some sources, businesses will wait up to two years to make the switch.
Office 2007 for Mac is reportedly scheduled for a Q3 2007 launch.
Update: Microsoft's Mac BU department has published an official response on their Mac Mojo blog. There will be free, downloadable converters for Office for Mac "in Spring 2007, with final converters available six to eight weeks after we launch our next version of Office for Mac". Thanks to Jason at Edelman for the info.