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Microsoft Office Says ODF Files Are Corrupt

Posted in Formats, FUD, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer on ODFShades of DR-DOS FUD tactics

One day ago we wrote about ways in which Microsoft seems to be discouraging the use of ODF. It’s a must-read for background. We promised some screenshots and we finally have them thanks to Eruaran. Here is the portion of the IRC discussion which explains what you see at the bottom.

<Eruaran> The first one is what comes up if you try to open an .odt in MS Word 2007 (after I clicked ‘details’)
<schestowitz> Thanks!
<Eruaran> no problem
<Eruaran> so, you click ok and you get the second one
<schestowitz> And the third…?
<Eruaran> so, you click ‘yes’ to ‘recover the contents’ of this document and you get the third
<Eruaran> third shows after I clicked ‘details’
<Eruaran> click ‘ok’ and thats it
<schestowitz> “the file is corrupt,” eh? The last time I checked it’s Microsoft that corrupted Swedish folks for OOXML.
<Eruaran> try to open the same document back in OOo or KOffice and its perfect


<Eruaran> “Microsoft Office cannot open this file because some parts are missing or invalid” ~translation~ “Microsoft Office could open this file but wont because some parts are missing (you know, those binary blobs that keep you dependant upon us), so we’ve decided your choice of file formats is invalid”.

Dialogue 1:

ODF diagloe

Dialogue 2: (click to enlarge)

ODF error

Dialogue 3:



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  1. Shane Coyle said,

    June 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm


    It looks like they fed Word an ODT file, but implied (or word assumed) that it was OOXML – Dialogue 3 says it’s a malformed OOXML file, which it likely is. It’s also likely a malformed mpeg file, if you try to feed it to mplayer as such.

    What ODF plugin is being used here? Word doesn’t support ODF natively, yet, right?

    When you had the open file dialog, what filter for file type was applied, or was it all files? Then, did it ask you to choose a file type because this format was unrecognized, or did it just assume it was OOXML?

    I know MS said that ODF support was coming, fulfilling the last of Stafford Masie’s prophecies, but it’s not here yet that I noticed – something about a service pack, I don’t use Office so I dunno. We’ll also have to wait and see on how well it is implemented, I suppose.

  2. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:39 pm


    The dialog boxes show that Word 2007 tries to open a Word 2007 file, and does not find the parts it expects. This is not conclusive, other than the fact that Word 2007 does not support .ODT natively.

    Is that worth a blog post? Who said Word 2007 natively supports .ODT ?

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:50 pm


    The reader expressed his concerns about the textual contents of the dialogue/message.

    I’m not sure if you read the previous post. We show here only the fairly intimidating dialugues that discourage ODF use or at least introduce doubt (even for future use). We also mentioned how this relates to the fiasco around DR-DOS in this IRC Chat (full logs posted this morning)

    A reader wrote to tell me about another example a couple of hours ago (E-mail):

    In regards to this one ( or another on the same topic )

    I’ve noticed, second hand, that MSIE gives a ‘security’ warning when accessing Gmail.

    See those ‘smoking gun’ from DR-DDS again. This may not be deliberate this time around, but it does not help, either.

  4. Roy Bixler said,

    June 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm


    You could say that the error message is deceptive because MSO is interpreting a format that it does not support as if it does support it. That would certainly confuse someone who is not technically savvy or who is unaware of ODF and that it is a distinct format from OOXML. It’s not as if ODF was unknown when MSO 2007 was released. At best, I would say that Microsoft was negligent and made a bad assumption that every XML file must be an OOXML file. More likely is that, given Microsoft’s history, they would regard it as “not a problem” or even desirable if their error message caused confusion, all while giving them plausible deniability.

  5. Victor Soliz said,

    June 19, 2008 at 5:34 pm


    It looks to me that they are just assuming any “unknown” (to them) XML file is OOXML that needs to be repaired, well the way to prove would be to feed it a random XML file and see what happens. I hope some of the readers actually have office 2007…

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm


    I hope some of the readers actually have office 2007…

    I’m not sure about the word “hope”. :-)

    Either way, about half of the visitors of this Web site use GNU/Linux.

  7. Victor Soliz said,

    June 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm


    Well, they could try WINE, wonder if anyone would actually bother try to run THAT.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 19, 2008 at 6:51 pm


    It’s possible. Wine Reviews showed it some months ago.

  9. Eruaran said,

    June 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm


    @ Shane Coyle

    “It looks like they fed Word an ODT file” – Yes I did.

    “but implied (or word assumed) that it was OOXML” – Microsoft knows what an ODT is. Word could simply report that the format is unsupported, but it doesn’t do that.

    “Dialogue 3 says it’s a malformed OOXML file, which it likely is.” – It was a simple text document that was not malformed at all. This supports my point – Microsoft’s dialogues have made an impression on you.

    “It’s also likely a malformed mpeg file” – I don’t know why you think that.

    No ODF plugin was used. Office assumes it is OOXML.

    You can also choose “recover text from any file”, and Word will spit out some revealing information: It correctly identifies the document type as an OASIS open document, it can output all of the meta data, it knows what version it is, but it absolutely will not at any time output the single line of text that the document contained.

    The purpose of this exercise was simply to show that Office will give the user information that is misleading in response to a perfectly good ODT file. It is easy enough to replicate.

  10. Eruaran said,

    June 19, 2008 at 9:01 pm


    @ Stephane Rodriguez

    The purpose is to show that Microsoft Word is deliberately misleading.

    This is what Word will give you if you try to “recover text from any file”:

    D[\%R )_úëw
    RAm+Ã!ÉqÒ­tFS¹’ _3C
    SYé¬ÃòŒ2±•²°›å,Ì wi[K…U)
    OpenOffice.org/2.4$Win32 OpenOffice.org_project/680m12$Build-9286Agent Smith2008-06-20T11:32:54Agent Smith2008-06-20T11:33:141PT25SPK
    /ÝÙó´lþõyÇvÍÿ\5ãrfÌúã…ök’uNGðï~k ÷¹Tâùñs;ìïçÙÚÊ/8n=ßn]muŒ
    qÂéoGy2d H
    &__WtÜ‚ñ>íÈIEà’ _?*
    N]¥¡Ï£¹ ðŽ5&CTÑGn*

  11. Eruaran said,

    June 19, 2008 at 9:08 pm


    Actually not all the info displayed correctly when I submitted it… but meh, you get the idea…

  12. Jose_X said,

    August 12, 2008 at 4:04 pm


    >> The dialog boxes show that Word 2007 tries to open a Word 2007 file, and does not find the parts it expects. This is not conclusive, other than the fact that Word 2007 does not support .ODT natively.

    These diagrams seem to indicate Word doesn’t support ODF yet, but consider the following.

    That is the problem with a monopoly. When most businesses and users use a specific product, the vendor calls the shots. What the user sees is “an illegal …blah blah….” They know next time if they want to “preserve” their work to use Monopolyware and not take chances with other products. This is FUD that helps keep the monopoly together to be leveraged another day.

    The user also eventually will recognize the .odt ending and avoid it like the plague.. so much that those advocating it will have another hurdle to overcome to get their legitimate message across or sell their product.

    [Hypothetical] Without a monopoly, it would be much clearer to many users that this product was badly designed in assuming OOXML formatting and in not adequately supporting ODF by this time. Rather than to hold the monopoly fort, in such a hypothetical case, this product would rightly lose marketshare. Thus, even this “innocent” error interaction serves to strengthen the monopoly, and few would claim Monopolysoft was playing dirty. Most would attribute this to incompetency, sloppiness, negligence… point is, all of these natural human failings help support the monopoly automatically.

    Better formats and products get marginalized severely as long as you have a monopoly. It pressures vendors of new products and those contemplating format changes to do so on the monopolist’s terms and timeline. This defeats major advantages of innovators.

    And who can outmarket a Monopolysoft backed by its cashcows and controlled marketing venues (your *desktop* and the many partners kept in line through fear and NDA secrecy).

    Monopolysoft has numerous interlocking monopolies not just one.

    [IMO] Monopolysoft will fight ODF by helping to create the appearances of ODF products and documents that “don’t work”. This is a major facet of what they mean by “supporting” ODF today but “OOXML is the future”. They will partake in the poisoning of the ODF well until they have “fixed” ISO OOXML and changed their software to “match” it.

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