When Will You Buy Office 2007?

I depend on Woody’s Office Watch to keep me informed about releases, fixes, patches and so forth. Between that and several legal listservs, I can get a good read on when it’s time for my clients to dip their toes into new release waters. Office 2007 is scheduled to release at the same time as Windows VISTA. It isn’t necessary to have VISTA in order to run Office 2007.

By all accounts Office 2007 is fairly stable and has some nice enhancements. Not least of which is a more stable file format for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But thus far the jury is out regarding whether the hefty upgrade cost is worth the enhancements. And while the new file format is seen as more stable, Woody’s warns that the transition will be messy for most users. In a recent issue they state that Microsoft promised to provide a free tool to permit earlier versions of Office to read and save the new formats. But now that the compatibility pack is available, they find that only the Word 2007 format is fully supported, “with Excel and PowerPoint left wanting.”

With Office 2007 coming out imminently, it’s only a matter of time before you get a .docx .xlsx or .pptx file. The new formats are the default for Office 2007, so one of the new files might be sent to you early on in error. So Woody’s suggests that all Office users (Office 2000 onwards) install the Office 2007 compatibility pack. This will let you read and write the new Word formats. You can find the compatibility pack here.

The converters work for Word 2000, Word 2002 (XP) and Word 2003. You’ll need the Excel 2003 viewer and PowerPoint 2003 viewer to read .xlsx or .pptx formats.

In Word 2003 you can save to .docx or .docm from the File | Save As .
To open a Word 2007 document use File | Open then choose Word 2007 from the file type list. The conversion pack registers the new file extensions with Windows so double-clicking a document will open it in Office.

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