sábado, 7 de septiembre de 2013

Microsoft SkyDrive and Open Document Files

We are living pretty interesting times.

I remember that, when I first tried SkyDrive, the only available format to save your documents was the infamous .docx.   Consequently, I ran away from Microsoft's crippled cloud offering.

After all, I was not willing to accept this company's antics to impose an unnecessary standard that, in reality, was only directed to generate incompatibility so that Microsoft Office users had to buy Office 2007.

However, I visited SkyDrive earlier this year and, to my surprise, I saw that you could choose between .docx and .odt to save your documents.  I remember Megatotoro's bewilderment when I told him about it; the news was difficult to digest.  Odt seemed to be winning the arm wrestling.

There was a catch, though: you could save a file as an .odt with the Word Web App but, to be able to edit it, you had to run MS Office 2013 on your computer.  Again, Microsoft was pushing users of SkyDrive to buy a newer version of the Office suite and install it locally to do something that, obviously, people wanted to do in the cloud... a poor compromise that revealed that the company, instead of offering solid cloud solutions, was more concerned with protecting its old model software franchise.

Today, I gave SkyDrive another try.   Only expecting the "you cannot edit this file, blah, blah, blah", I tried to open a stored .odt and... Word Web App opened, only displaying the classic warning about compatibility issues that a desktop install of MS Office spits out when you try to work with an Open Document Format file.

I was dumbfounded.  For a moment, I thought the whole thing had been a product of my imagination, a crazy dream triggered by last night's bout of insomnia.  But no, the only word contained in the document was there on the screen: "Freedom".  I started to modify the file and renamed it "Hello World(1).odt":

The .odt created with Word Web App in SkyDrive

Word Web App did what it was supposed to, without complaining about my need to have MS Office 20XX installed locally on my desktop.  I am sure I was not running any version of  MS Office on my computer as I was using a Mageia Linux desktop.   Still in disbelief, I downloaded the file to open it locally with LibreOffice:
My first .odt file edited on SkyDrive using a Linux computer an MS cloud software
Sure enough, LibreOffice opened the file without a glitch.

Then I uploaded the file to Google Drive to see how Docs would work with it:
Although Google Docs inserted a blank page before my content showed and moved the picture a bit to the right, it was pretty much the same file.  But I was appalled: Microsoft was actually offering BETTER compatibility with LibreOffice than Google Docs was!

Is this perhaps a less publicized example of another backtrack that Microsoft has undertaken?  Maybe.  After all the mess with Windows 8's start button and the XBox One, it seems possible; the company might be trying desperately to correct its own wrong-doings.  Of course, they do it to keep cash coming, not for the sake of costumers, but still...

Now what Microsoft needs to do to utterly baffle me is to name one of these three candidates as the company's next CEO instead of Elop or the Ford guy:

The world is changing. 

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