Sun ODF Plugin 1.0 for Microsoft Office has gone live and is available for download immediately. Sun informed that not only is the plugin free, but that it also brings to the table Support and Service contracts. Sun ODF Plugin 1.0 is just one example out of a long line of solutions for the Office Suite designed to deliver interoperability with the Open Document Format of OpenOffice. Sun has also evolved the plug-in compared to the Technology Preview build. The final version comes with support for Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats and for Office 2003, Office 2000 and Office XP. Additionally, Sun also enhanced the conversion quality of the product.
The Office 2007 System and the Open XML formats are ignored, but only partially, and Sun claims that the fault for that lies with Microsoft. "Well, basically, [Sun ODF Plugin 1.0] does [support Office 2007], but there is an issue in Word's 2007 Filter API handling. You can save to ODF, but when you try to open ODF, Word ignores the installed filters and tries to open with it's own filters. Of course Word can't, so you get an error message "The Office Open XML file cannot be opened because there are problems with the content". This even happens if you explicitly select the ODF filter! I hope Microsoft will fix this issue with the next service pack. If not, we will work around this bug by doing the same kind of integration like in PowerPoint and Excel," explained Sun developer Malte Timmermann.
Microsoft has its own open source solution that delivers format interoperability via SourceForge. However, Sun claims that its ODF Plugin 1.0 is a superior solution to the OpenXML/ODF Translator Add-in for Office offered by Microsoft. Sun revealed that the plug-in is designed to integrate seamlessly with Word, acting just like any other filter and enabling users to open, manage, edit and save actual ODF files, and even set Open Document Format as the default format for Office.
"Conversion is done with StarOffice code, using it's proven and high quality filters. The other Plugin is developed from scratch, using XSLT, and there are things that can't be transformed with XSLT, because you need information about the computed layout. The Sun Plugin doesn't have other pre-requirements. Just download and install, no need to install additional things like the "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack", ".NET Framework" and hot fixes," Timmermann added.