Doug Mahugh posted today on Interoperability – specifically the difficulty of enabling cross-application exchange of document formats. This represents one (important) aspect of the overall interoperability challenge, but I would like to set some context for this conversation in my blog. There is laser-sharp focus on XML-based document exchange fidelity & quality between Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, and other business productivity suites. The broader category of data interchange however, is often left unaddressed. I'd like to open that window for a moment.

Countless solution providers for Office exist, a community built over time by providing and incredible breadth of capability enabling the development of powerful solutions. One of the core requirements for Office development is data connectivity and data portability. I'd like to take a moment to point folks at 3 resources on MSDN that illustrate various aspects of data portability for Office – hopefully to add a little context to our investments around interoperability, which is broad and deep in our products.

1. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb545041(office.11).aspx Frank Rice discusses how to create data connections in Excel 2007, at least at the most basic level. From here you can connect through OLE, OLAP, Web Services,

2. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc197932.aspx Stephen Oliver discusses how to use content controls, data bindings, the Open XML SDK and custom-defined schema to introduce variable length repeating data items into Word templates.

3. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb332455.aspx Ken Getz discusses how to replace PowerPoint slide images

This extremely narrow slice of life within the Office partner community illustrates a very important concept – interoperability with Microsoft Office is a well-worn path, supported by thousands of software providers, developers, experts, and so on. http://msdn.microsoft.com/office provides a tremendous resource for those developers and partners.

We will continue to do our best to support not only the document interoperability scenarios that Doug outlines in his post, but also those that are important to Microsoft partners and solution providers, whose businesses depend on us, and to whom we are grateful for their lasting and continuing support.