I recall saying recently that "this is my last post for 2009." Whoops... I don't think I was anticipating this. I watched with interest yesterday the coverage and reaction to the i4i judgment. I am not keen to share my own thoughts about the case here, but I would like to offer clarity around the specific area of Word in question, and suggestions for what people can do about it if they are using that functionality today. There is much confusion about the part of Word that is actually affected.
First, some things to understand:
We do not anticipate any interruption in the availability of Word or Office 2007. Additionally this ruling has no impact on the scheduled availability of the 2010 Office version which is planned for the first half of CY2010.
Current users are not affected. If you are using the custom XML tags in Word 2003 or 2007 (these show up in Word as Pink Tags around tagged content), you are free to continue doing so with the products you have already purchased.
Open XML standards (all ECMA and ISO versions) are not affected. Even if Word's specific implementation of custom XML support does infringe the i4i patent (which Microsoft does not believe to be the case), i4i has never claimed that its patent is essential to the OXML standard.
Content Controls of Word (screen shot below) are not affected. In Word 2007 and Word 2010, this is a common method of binding document content to data stored in a custom-defined schema within a document.
The functionality that is in question is indicated by the screen shot below. Custom XML Tags in Word documents are visible in the Word user interface as Pink Tags surrounding tagged content in a document.
What you can do if you have questions about your solutions that use Custom XML Tags:
First, download the Office 2010 beta and test your solution. If your solution works in Office 2010, it does not depend on the functionality in question. If your solution does utilize Custom XML Tags, consider re-implementing the solution using Content Controls. Detailed guidance on the use of Content Controls in Word 2007 can be found here. Also note the Word Content Controls Toolkit on CodePlex. The Open XML SDK, of course, is quite useful for getting people up to speed on developing solutions for Word and Open XML.
Update: Additional Detail
In response to several inquiries on the topic, I have included additional text describing the feature area that is affected vs. what is not affected, including links to KB articles which illustrate the capabilities in more detail.
Word 2003 and Word 2007 distributed prior to 1/11/2010 can read files that contain XML markup (ref: “Understanding Word's XML Markup [Word 2003 XML Reference]”, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa212889(office.11).aspx. When custom XML markup is present, Word delineates this content in a Word document which allows it to later save the file to .DOCX, .DOCM, or .XML with that content marked up.
The Word 2007 product distributed by Microsoft after 1/10/2010 will no longer read the Custom XML markup contained within .DOCX, .DOCM, or .XML files. These files will continue to open, but the Custom XML markup tags will be removed. Custom XML markup stored within .DOC files will not be affected by these changes. Word 2003 and existing installations of Word 2007 will not be affected by this change.
Word 2007 also added features allowing Content Controls to map to XML data stored in a DOCX or DOCM file (ref: “Mapping Word 2007 Content Controls to Custom XML Using the XML Mapping Object”, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb510135.aspx). Content Controls and XML data stored within DOCX or DOCM files will not be affected by this change.
Thanks for a great post, and many great conversations inside as well.
I Have a question on 2003 - My company has a big product relying on MS-Word 2003 Pro, and probably uses some custom XML markup.
We are trying to evaulate the impact - and seen some notes on this at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/978951 ,
this KB states that there is a new update for Word 2003, but it is probably not changing anything.
Do you know if indeed there are impacts in Office 2003, and where this version can be found for testing ? (the article promises it'll be on the MSDN, but couldn't find it).
Thanks, Gray. Given that custom xml in .doc files should not be affected in any way by the ruling, it is perplexing that I cannot insert custom tags into a .doc file. I have tried to do this both using the XML Structure Task Pane, and programmatically, through calls to Range.InsertXML, where the xml to be inserted contains custom xml.
a) Can you verify that, indeed, custom xml tags cannot be inserted into .doc files?
b) If this is the behavior for you, too, is there an explanation as to why this is the case? Could this be an oversight by the Word team? Might Microsoft be amenable to removing these restrictions?
Thanks for any help on the issue, as my company's product uses these codes extensively in our application.
"I think it would be best to focus on migrating solutions to content controls and Open XML. If you have solutions that use the CustomXML functionality today, this is a good solution you can move toward as a replacement."
Does (or will) Word 2003 support content controls in Open XML documents? (I can't force my customers to move to Office 2007.)
The ability to export .xml files was a huge feature for my software. For those worried about getting locked into a proprietary application, I would just tell them that we can export into .xml files that Word can open and any XML app can open... and all the structured data is tagged in the XML so you can import it into anything.
Switching to Open XML is okay... I can still say the same thing sorta... its a bit more complicated as the XML is nested in a ZIP file.
Switching from Custom XML to "content controls" is a bigger concern. What do content controls look like in the .ZIP file? Can my customers get to them by processing the XML in the XML file inside the .ZIP file?
Thank you for this very helpful post.
Do you know if the post 01/11/2010 update for Word 2007 applies to all international versions of Word, or just in the States?
we are based in Europe and develop a solution for a multinational company heavily relying on CustomXML tags. We use them because ContentControls currently do not support some use cases we need.
Now here are some more questions not answered yet:
- The court ruling only applies to the US. Is Microsoft pulling the functionality only from all versions or US/English version only?
- Are Word 2010 and further version going to support CustomXML tags?
- Is the corresponding patch "Update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 (KB974631)" going to be published via Windows Update? Is it going to be an automatic update?
Thanks in advance,
Sorry, my fingers keep typing "Gary" instead of "Gray"...
feel free to type "Barin" instead of "Brian". ;^)
After finding out about this news. I was definitely surprised.
Even though I purchased word 2007 from one of the stores out of town via phone around 2008.
I am a concerned, about the files I had saved in docx and docm. I was wondering if that I might lose my files after January 11. the files that were saved in docx and docm won't be opened post january 11.
I have so many files saved, that I had them stored in two 2GB USB drives.
I mainly use my ms word to format all of my writing, whether it be screenplays and fiction writing.
Unfortunately, it is too many to save my writings in PDF and RTF.
A friend once stated that his wife has word 97 on her vista laptop. For some unknown reason, its been updating.
I was meant, doc and docx, something tells me that we would all find out.
word 97 can't open word 2003.
Man I sure hope I can still open all of my files saved in docx and still save my files in that format post january 11
I had a feeling that it would an interesting year, low and behold I was right.
The patch only applies to newly sold licenses. Existing licenses of Office do not require the patch. Office 2003 is no longer for sale. The KB article for Office 2003 and its patch can be found here:
Also please note: .DOCX, .DOCM and .XML files are the file types that are affected. .DOC, the default format for 2003 is not affected.
The Word object model method Range.InsertXML is a way of loading XML content into an existing Word document via the OM. In the patched version of Word, the Range.InsertXML method will not read custom XML markup anymore. Any custom markup in the XML you pass to Range.InsertXML is removed.
Word 2003 does not support content controls. But as long as your customers who are using Word 2003 already have their copies (which they presumably purchased long before January 11, 2010) they can continue to use those copies and they don’t need to apply the patch.
Yes, your customers can process the XML parts inside the zip package which is a .docx file. See Eric White’s guest post on my blog for some links to more resources.
The patch described here http://support.microsoft.com/kb/978951 can be applied to all language versions of Word 2007. All versions of Word sold by Microsoft in the US after Jan 10 (not just English) will remove custom XML markup when opening files.
We don’t plan publish the patch via Microsoft Update.
You will not lose your .docx and .docm files after January 11. You will still be able to open them.