Does The Document Foundation Support OOXML?

Soon after the release of LibreOffice 3.3, the Steering Committee posted their position on OOXML support in LibreOffice. Some of those that have tested the LibreOffice office suite knows that they can open and save in Microsoft Office formats. So, The Document Foundation supports OOXML then? Well, no, not really.

According to a new foundation wiki page, The Document Foundation does not support OOXML. It states the foundation supports only Open Standards such as the OpenDocument Format (ODF). But if users can read and write to Microsoft Office documents, isn't that OOXML support?

The foundation explains that the formats used in Microsoft Office, called OOXML, are not the same thing as the ISO standard of the same name. In fact, they quip "it is unclear whether anyone is able to implement the ISO standard." But it is unwise not to support any commonly used document format or else risk becoming irrelevant. So, they choose to support these formats for user convenience.

in order to enable users to read and write to documents saved in Microsoft Office formats, LibreOffice has employed patches from Novell which are the result of certain controversial agreements between Novell and Microsoft. If users wish to disable this feature it is possible. One method is to just save in OpenDocument formats, or one can go as far as to deactivate it. The Microsoft Office formats can be deactivated by following this howto, which basically consists of editing LibreOffice .xcd files and removing the word "EXPORT" from a value line.

So, does The Document Foundation support OOXML? The short answer is: No, but they support Microsoft Office formats.


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of


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good information

Jasa Pembuatan Website di Bali's picture

I think if LibreOffice features in 3.3 is very nice and convenient to use

International Standards

Ken Sarkies's picture

Long experience has shown that many international standards tend to try to cover every possible situation and end up being far too big to be supported well. As for Microsoft formats, well, there is no choice but to support their formats if LibreOffice is to be usable by the commercial world. So we have ODF, OOXML and Microsoft as three major "standards", plus a raft of proprietary formats. As someone said: the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.


Steeve McCauley's picture

They have no option but to support the closed Microsoft formats (including the deceptively named OOXML - took me quite a while to realize this wasn't OpenOffice XML).

As an aside, I prefer the lightness of the gnome office utils to the bloated feel of OpenOffice and their relentless goal of emulating the MS Office suite. Gnumeric, Abiword and Inkscape do everything I need. when I do need something other than vim.

And the Gnumeric charting blows away oocalc which I find maddeningly unusable.

It's bad not because

gt's picture

It's bad not because interoperability is a bad thing, but because microsoft formats are closed formats. There are efforts going on to standardize these office formats, so that customers aren't tied to one vendor, but microsoft for obvious reasons resists these efforts and in the end, us users have to face the problems.

Don't really understand why

larsen's picture

Don't really understand why is such a wrong to have a Microsoft Office format support in LibreOffice? I don't store files in Microsoft Office myself, but if my business partner sends me a document in MS-Office format and likes me to add some info, I am glad I can save the file in the same format he/she able to open. Is this really bad?

why it's bad...

cjcox's picture

It's bad only by the fact that Microsoft CREATED YET ANOTHER PROPRIETARY FORMAT. So.. if you don't mind the poliferation of non-open Microsoft formats, there isn't any problem.

Interoperability is wise... so it's supported... what isn't wise is Microsoft... but nobody cares to slap them around, so we're all 0wned. The day that the end user rises up against Microsoft, is the day that the madness ends...

However, supporting formats such as ooxml

timvalen's picture

However, in my humble opinion, the only way for the software to have a chance at becoming mainstream with business, or even private users, increasing functionality to accommodate formats such as this is unavoidable. In other words, making compromises like these are necessary in order to convert MS Office users to LibreOffice users because they've already invested a great deal of time in proprietary software. Not supporting ooxml would make it tough for anyone to make the move to LibreOffice.

Barking in the wrong forest

Tom Potts's picture

In my 30 years experience office software is the last thing needed on a computer. Formatting information into paper shape is sooo 19th C and is the computing equivalent of using the combustion engine to drive the horse to the field for ploughing, but using the increased power of the combustion engine to take the stable with it.
Arguing about which format to do things you really shouldn't be doing is a bit pointless and only serves to keep people spending their lives formatting data, paying for software to format data.
Every year I almost cry at having to do my accounts, many of my suppliers are so pleased I can go online and download pdf copies of invoices etc so that I can print them out and then type them into my accounting system when all I really want is a simply formatted XML I can load straight in.
This seemingly applies to almost every aspect of my business - I can get a fantastically formatted paper shaped representation of some information I never ever wanted to actually read myself.