by Peter Galli on October 26, 2009 06:20pm

Great news on the data portability front: today, Microsoft announced that it will be releasing documentation for the .pst file format - the format in which data is stored in Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders.

Even better is the fact that the documentation will be released under Microsoft's Open Specification Promise when complete. This lets anyone implement the .pst file format on any platform and in any tool, without concerns about patents, and without the need to contact Microsoft in any way.

But it is important for me to point out that this documentation is still in its early stages and the work is ongoing.  However, Microsoft is also engaging directly with industry experts and interested customers to gather feedback on the quality of the .pst technical documentation to ensure that it is clear and useful. 

As an increasing amount of information is stored and shared in digital formats, it is vital for people to be able to reuse their data across various applications and platforms. Giving access to the documentation will facilitate interoperability and let customers and vendors to access their data in .pst files across a variety of platforms. 

This is also just another example of how Microsoft is listening to its customers and responding to their requests for greater interoperability, in this case around data portability

Also, enabling customers and vendors to access the data in .pst files on a variety of platforms allows developers to read, create, and interoperate with the data in .pst files in server and client scenarios using the programming language and platform of their choice. 

"We're excited about the possibilities created for our customers and partners by this kind of effort, and we look forward to continued collaboration with the industry in our pursuit of improved interoperability with Microsoft Office," said Paul Lorimer, the Group Manager for Office Interoperability at Microsoft, in a blog post