Problem Opening Microsoft Office 2007 docx Files in Office 2003


Problem details:After creating a document in MS Office 2007, people using Office 2003 are unable to open the document. Office 2007 file formats are in docx, pptx, and xlsx, rather than doc, ppt, and xls and there are version incompatibilities between these formats. However, a document created in Office 2003 can be opened in both Office 2007 and 2003 without a problem, even after being edited in either version.Solution details:This incompatibility is caused because Microsoft changed the underlying technology around which the Office file formats are based. Although Office 2007 can read both the new and the old file formats, Office 2003 can only read the older format. There are two ways around this problem and both are relatively simple. The first possible solution is to enable Office 2003 to read the newer docx, pptx, and xlsx file formats. This is enabled with an update that’s downloadable from the Microsoft Download Center; just look for the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for 2007 File Formats download in the popular section or search for those keywords.

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Note that this update will enable Office 2003 to read 2007 file formats but will not be able to write to them. If you modify the documents, you’ll save them as a 2003 version doc, ppt, or xls file. The other option is to remember save files as 2003 format files even when creating them in Office 2003. This requires an extra step to remember but doesn’t require any extra software or add-ins. When saving a document, click the Office button, then Save, then Save As and under Save As Type, choose Office 97-2003 format. Now the document will be viewable in either Office 2003 or 2007. The problem with either one of these solutions is that the new underlying technologies of the 2007 file formats are necessary for some of the innovations in the Office 2007 system. For example, SmartArt and the new 3D graphs in Excel aren’t supported in file formats other the 2007 versions. As a result you will lose some of this new functionality of the 2007 version if you constrain yourself to using the 2003 file formats using either one of these techniques. Still, at least everyone can read all of your files with no incompatibilities.Relevant Links:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/923505

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