Word 97 splash screen Yes, you read it right! Microsoft now offers a royalty-free file format program for the Microsoft Office Binary File Format (the old .doc, .xls and .ppt used in previous versions of Microsoft Office).

Microsoft Office 2007 is built-upon the Office Open XML file format which is an ECMA International standard, and an ISO proposal (you have all read about it). But some of us still have application and/or customers that heavily rely on the old binary format. Until now it has been a mess doing something with these documents (for example in the SharePoint event handlers) or producing them without expensive 3rd party applications. We have solved it in some cases by making compressed HTML files (.mht) and renamed them to .doc (it actually works smooth). But if you still have to dig in to the old binary formats you can recieve the binary file formats specifications, which covers the latest versions as well as earlier ones, you can send an e-mail to Microsoft and request an agreement which you have to sign. I have not read up on all the legal issues, but you can read the agreement here.

For more information and the e-mail to use is found under the KB article 840817.