TurboLinux will help Microsoft translate Open XML into ODF and vice versa for Japanese and Chinese users.

TurboLinux has joined the Microsoft-funded but community-led Open XML-ODF translator project. The project aims to let Open XML and Open Document Format documents communicate smoothly in Office suites that use Japanese and Chinese characters, said Jean Paoli, general manager, interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft.

"TurboLinux is one of the major distributors of Linux in Japan and China," he said. "They are bringing more knowledge [to the project]."

TurboLinux, which also distributes a version of OpenOffice.org for Japan and China, also will ensure those suites can read and write Open XML files, Paoli said.

More information about the Open XML/ODF Translator Add-In for Office can be found on the project site on SourceForge.net. Other companies contributing to the project are Novell, Clever Age, Aztecsoft and DIaLOGIKa.

The project already has released a 1.0 version of the Open XML Translator, a Microsoft Office 2007 add-in that converts Microsoft Word documents written in Open XML to ODF and vice versa. Novell is including the plug-in in its own distribution of OpenOffice.org.

A beta version of a spreadsheet converter add-in that will work with Excel also is available, and project members are working on the final phase, a plug-in that will convert presentation files such as those developed in Microsoft PowerPoint between Open XML and ODF.

Independent of the Sourceforge.net project, Sun Microsystems last week released a 1.0 version of its own ODF translator add-in for Office, called Sun ODF Plugin. However, it only works with Office 2000, Office 2003 and Office XP.

According to Sun, it was difficult to build a version for Office 2007 because of a feature that ignores installed filters and opens documents with its own. ODF is not supported natively in Office 2007, one of the reasons plug-ins must be built for the software.

Much has been made of the fact that Microsoft did not provide native support in Office 2007 for ODF, though it provides support for 30 other formats and uses Open XML as the default. However, companies such as Sun and IBM and others accept that there will be at least two XML file formats for documents and agree that it's important to have technology that can translate between them.