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Free Office 2007 conversion toolkit launched

Microsoft helps business users make the switch

Microsoft has released the final part of a free tool kit designed to help corporate users convert their existing Office files to Office 2007's new Open XML file format.

The new technology, called the Office Migration Planning Manager, combs through networked PCs to discover and report back on how many and what kind of Office files exist on the systems. The OMPM's availability was announced on the blog of Brian Jones, an Office programme manager at Microsoft.

To use the 2.7MB tool, users will need either Access 2007 or a free, but as-yet-unreleased, runtime version of the Access software.

Microsoft previously had released its Office Compatibility Pack, which can help IT administrators update files saved in Office XP or Office 2003 formats to Open XML.

The compatibility pack includes a tool called the Office File Converter, which can be used to convert large numbers of files at the same time. It also provides add-ins that enable individual users of pre-2007 versions of Office to open files stored in the Open XML format.

Earlier versions of Office all save data in binary file formats denoted by familiar extensions such as .doc for Word, .xls for Excel and .ppt for PowerPoint. In contrast, Open XML is based on XML and zip compression technologies. It takes individual files, some of them in conventional binary formats, and repackages them in a compressed form, denoted by .docx for Word 2007, .xlsx for Excel 2007, .pptx for PowerPoint 2007 and so on.

Open XML was certified as an open standard by Geneva-based Ecma International in December, and now Microsoft is seeking to have the file format accepted by the more prestigious ISO standards body. In addition, the software vendor has funded the creation of a tool to convert files back and forth between Open XML and the rival Open Document Format for Office Applications, which already has been ratified by ISO as an international standard.

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