Experts say Microsoft’s XML play won’t backfire | Tech News on ZDNet: "Microsoft’s move to create new XML-based file formats for three of its flagship Office products may make it easier for customers to consider rival software, but industry watchers aren’t predicting an exodus just yet. Conventional wisdom has long held that if Microsoft were to embrace XML as its default file format for Office and discard the proprietary underpinnings that have ostensibly handcuffed customers to its products, businesses might jump at the chance to move to other software providers, or at least start using rival offerings alongside Office more frequently. And now that Microsoft has announced it will employ XML formats in the versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word included in its upcoming Office 12 package, the issue is front and center. ‘It has to be one of the first questions you ask when you see (Microsoft’s) XML plans: Will this encourage people to look at new products, especially open source?’ said Forrester Research analyst Bob Markham. But Markham and others say the predictions of a mass departure won’t likely be proven correct, at least not right away. Markham said customers in Europe and Asia may start more seriously considering alternatives such as the open-source software made by OpenOffice, but he believes most businesses will wait to find out how Microsoft’s new designs could help them achieve existing goals with XML before they start looking for help elsewhere. One of the most compelling elements of Microsoft’s new allegiance to XML is that it should let customers and other software developers more easily integrate their IT systems with the company’s dominant Office product line, a longstanding pain point for both camps."