Conversion to open software programs for creating spreadsheets, documents, and other standard office files could become more commonplace in school districts, if a May 22 pledge by software giant Microsoft Corp. comes to fruition. 

In a development that could make it easier for schools to use cheaper, open technologies instead of proprietary programs, Microsoft said it will make its Office 2007 software compatible with the OpenDocument Format (ODF). 

Microsoft's announcement comes after months of international pressure to make Office 2007 compatible with ODF, an open file format developed in 2005 by Microsoft competitors such as IBM and Sun Microsystems. Until now, Microsoft...

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