Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats

Microsoft OfficeThe flavors of Microsoft Office, from the beginning of this century, thus far, for the Windows operating system, has been Office 2000, Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2007. There are also versions available for the Apple Macintosh operating system. The Microsoft Office software suite is a packaged deal of applications that are interrelated (or interconnected) to work seamlessly with each other; AND is the most popular (commonly used) worldwide software standard adopted by businesses, government agencies and educational institutions alike.  Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access are the most commonly known (and used) applications in the Microsoft Office suite.

Hair PullingAs with any software that continually evolves, new features and options are added to make the software better; HOWEVER, these changes may not be backwards compatible to the previous versions. As a result, we end up pulling our hair out…

The most recent example of this is with the Office 2007 suite. The Office 2007 Suite has adopted an Open XML-based file format that cannot be read by the previous versions of Microsoft Office (such as Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003). If you have Office 2007 and you save a file in Word, Excel or Powerpoint, it will (by default) save to the Open XML-base file format. As a result, previous versions of Microsoft Office (such as Office 2000, XP and 2003) cannot open the document. You can change the Office 2007 defaults to prevent backward compatibility issues; however, it is apparent that it is Microsoft’s vision to push this new file format and for good reason(s).  The Office XML Formats are designed to be more robust than the binary formats; and, therefore, helps reduce the risk of lost information due to damaged or corrupted files. If you are interested in reading the full scoop on the XML-base file format [ click here ] .

The introduction of the new file format is truly a good experience and will ultimately be of great benefit; HOWEVER, I have already experienced and seen problems where the people (including businesses, government agencies, educational institutions) are not adopting the file format standard and it is causing cross platform compatibility issues between Office 2007 and the previous versions of Microsoft Office. What this means is that the people, including the IT people, are not aware and educated about the new file format standard. For example, prior to my retirement, I worked at a government agency in IT.  I would not be adopting this file format standard until the top level IT managers in the government issued a statement about using the new standard and how to make the transition.

If you are using a mixed bag of Microsoft Office Suites (such as 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007) and are planning to adopt the Office XML file format in Office 2007, there is a solution to the compatibility issues.  Microsoft provides a downloadable compatibility pack that you install on your PC that will allow the previous versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint to open, edit and save XML files.  (Note:  If you are using Microsoft Office 2000, I strongly discourage future usage of that package – [ READ THIS ARTICLE ] .)

You can get the “Compatibility Pack” [ HERE ] ; however, I suggest you read the information provided and you consult with your IT Administrator before installing any software, such as this, at your workplace.


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One thought on “Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats

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  1. Good information here (great picture too!).

    The real answer is; if you know you’re going to be sending the file to others, you need to “Save As” (that’s why that option is there) and then select the old (non “x”) format from the drop-down menu.
    But who does that? What percentage?

    So, answer for Real Life = the compatibility pack.


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