Google Apps Kills Off Vintage MS Office Support

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From next month, Google Apps will be unable to export files into .doc, .xls and .ppt

On Wednesday, Google announced it will remove support for older Microsoft Office formats from its Google Apps cloud-based software suite.

From 1 October, users will no longer be able to export their documents into popular, but outdated .doc, .xls and .ppt formats, which were in use until the release of Office 2007.

Moving office

Prior to Office 2007, Microsoft products offered proprietary file formats, based on Windows Compound Binary File Format. In 2008, the company made all documentation for these formats freely available for download and granted any possible patent rights for use or implementation of the formats for free under the Open Specification Promise.

Under the OSP, Microsoft has promised not to sue people using the Office formats – this is considered to be an example of “fair reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) patent terms.

Microsoft Office 97Starting with Office 2007, Microsoft replaced the default file formats with a Office Open XML, a Microsoft format, which was adopt5ed as a standard by the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA). This led to disagreement, as many others supported an XML format developed by the Oasis standards group called Open Document Format (ODF)

Five years after Microsoft stopped supporting the old formats, Google is following suit. Google Apps will still support more recent MS office formats, such as .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx, along with non-proprietary formats such as .rtf and .csv.

The disappearance of old formats will disappoint smaller businesses that might still use Office versions released between 1997 and 2003 together with their Google Docs. However, for several years Microsoft has been offering free compatibility packs for people with older systems, which allow to open, edit, and save files in more recent formats.

Over the past year, Google has been adding features to make Google Apps better for business. In April, the company finally revealed its cloud storage system Google Drive, and in June, launched new features designed to ease compliance with EU data protection rules.

Earlier this year, Google agreed a deal with Spanish bank BBVA to use Google Apps for Business, the largest contract for its web-based suite of communication and collaboration product yet.

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