Yes, it's Sunday again and you know what that means--Crystal Ball Sunday and new predictions for Linux and Open Source for the coming months. This week I probe application and operating system interoperability.

Developers and integrators are going to begin focusing considerable effort on the interoperability of Windows, Linux, and possibly even Mac OS applications. Interoperability between operating systems and applications seems to be a thing of great interest amongst would-be corporate adopters of Linux and open source technologies.

Interoperability means different things to different people but most often it means application interoperability through the use of underlying standards. For example, OpenOffice.org OO.o) isn't compatible with Microsoft Office but through the use of some document type standards; the two are interoperable.

You can open MS Office documents (Office 97 - Office 2003) documents in OpenOffice.org and you can save OO.o documents as MS Office types.

Standards and open information exchange will enhance the ability of developers to create programs that benefit us all. My crystal balls says that interoperability is the key to application success. These days, if you create a completely proprietary data format for an application, it will be discarded in favor of one (with possibly fewer features) that is standards-based.

This interoperability of applications will be the hottest focus in the coming months for open source developers enabling users of free and open source software to use documents and data created by proprietary applications. Interoperability on some level is desirable because it extends the power and value of both systems and provides new opportunities for innovation.

The biggest hurdle facing interoperability is convincing purveyors of proprietary applications to adhere to standard formats.

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