IBM plans to announce support for the ODF standard in an upcoming release of its Workplace Managed Client application this week.
The productivity tools in Version 2.6 of the Workplace Managed Client, due for release in early 2006, will include support for the ability to import, export, and rewrite files saved in Version 1.0 of the ODF standard. The Workplace productivity editor tools include word processing, presentation graphics, and spreadsheets.
Although Microsoft Office productivity suite holds a commanding lead in worldwide market share, emerging economies like China, Brazil, and India, and governments such as the state of Massachusetts that have welcomed open standards, are threatening to shift that balance.
"Emerging economies and governments are embracing open standards software because of cost savings," said an IBM representative. Open standards support at the desktop "could be a catalyst for our Workplace business."
ODF 1.0, recently ratified by OASIS, is an XML-based specification for saving and exchanging office documents.
The biggest benefit of ODF support for customers is reliable access to their own data, according to IBM officials.
Rather than paying licensing fees every few years to upgrade their proprietary productivity software, customers who adopt the ODF standard can break free of the product-upgrade cycle, IBM officials said.
IBM Workplace Managed Client also supports Microsoft Office file formats.