SOLVING MICROSOFT OFFICE COMPATIBILITY PROBLEMS
Microsoft has recently released two new versions of the Office application suite: Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for the Macintosh.
Both application suites include new versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Office 2007 for Windows also includes new versions of Publisher, Access, and Outlook.
Unfortunately, Office 2007 is not backward-compatible with the versions of Office currently in use on campus, which are Office 2003 for Windows and Office 2004 for Mac.
This document contains instructions for dealing with file incompatibilities. Click on the link that describes your situation.
- You are an Office 2003 for Windows user, and you have
received, or expect to receive, documents saved in one of the new Office 2007 file formats.
These documents will have an unfamiliar file extension.
- You need to display an older
Office document on a classroom computer with Office 2007.
- You are an Office 2007 for Windows user, and you wish
to share or send a document to someone who does not use Office 2007.
- You are an Office 2004 for Mac user, and you have received,
or expect to receive, documents saved in one of the new Office 2007 file formats.
- You are an Office 2008 for Mac user, and you wish to share or send a document to someone who uses an older version of Office.
If you are an Office 2003 user, and you receive a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document saved
in one of the new Office 2007 file formats (see below), you will not be able to open the
file until you install the Microsoft Office 2007 Compatibility Pack. Installation
instructions are provided below.
New File Formats and Their Extensions
Office 2007 files use new Open XML formats. The file extensions for the new formats include the document extension types you already know, plus an extra character to differentiate between files that do not have macros and files that do have macros. The new file extensions are shown below:
Files without macros
Files with macros
Installing the Microsoft Compatibility Pack
The conversion software in the Compatibility Pack allows your computer to automatically open, edit, and save Office 2007 documents just as you would other Office documents. To install the Compatibility Pack:
- You must have all High Priority Windows updates installed on your computer before you
install the Compatibility Pack. To check your update status:
- Open Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu, and select Windows
- On the Welcome to Windows Update page, click the Express button
to scan your computer for missing updates.
- If the scan finds any missing High Priority updates, follow the directions
to download and install those updates. When all updates are installed, proceed
to step 2.
- If the scans finds that your computer is not missing any High Priority
updates, proceed to step 2.
- Open Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu, and select Windows Update.
- To install the Compatibility Pack, click
here to go to the Microsoft Download Center website.
- On the Download Center page, click on the Download button in the shaded blue area.
- Restart your computer to complete the installation and prepare the Compatability Pack for use.
FACULTY & STUDENTS: Displaying Older Office Documents on Classroom Computers
Office 2007 will be installed on all classroom Windows computers before the Fall 2008 semester, along with special "Viewer" software that allows the computer to display Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files created using Office 2000 or 2003.
When you double-click on one of these files, it will open in the appropriate Viewer. The Viewer allows you to view the file, but not edit it. Note that Powerpoint files will open in slide-show mode.
If you'd like to preview how your files will appear and behave in a classroom, you can download the Viewers from the Microsoft website and install them on your own computer:
Office 2004 for Mac Users
XML File Format Converter for Macs allows Office 2004 for the Mac users to open documents
created using Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac.
(Note that the converter program is included on the latest FCAP image, so if you are working in a computer center or lab, or have a newer Mac, it may already be installed.)
To get started:
- Download and run the Microsoft Office Open XML Converter installer.
- When the installation is complete, open the Microsoft Office Open XML Converter (in the Applications folder).
To convert one file at a time:
- If the document is an email attachment, save it to your desktop.
- Locate the .docx file to be converted and drag it into the Converter
- Once the conversion is complete, the Converter will create an .rtf version of the original file and open the converted file in word.
To convert many files at once:
- Select the Convert Many Files icon at the top of the Converter window.
- Select the Add icon at the top of the Converter window and navigate to the .docx
files you want to convert. Click Open.
- When you are done selecting files, click Convert.
- Once the conversion is complete, the Converter will create .rtf versions of the original files and open the converted files in word.
If you have problems converting files using the Microsoft Office Open XML Converter, please refer to the "known bugs and issues" published on the VersionTracker release page. The Converter cannot convert Excel 2007 files. If you are having problems converting files on a network drive or flash drive, try copying them to your desktop and convert them from there.
Office 2008 for the Mac is scheduled for release in early 2008. This latest version of the Office suite for the Mac will use the Office Open XML formats natively, making it compatible with Office 2007. See an article in MacWorld about the release here.Back to top>
Office 2007 for Windows Users
If you REGULARLY send or share files with someone who uses Office 2003 for Windows or Office 2004 for Mac, you should change the default "Save" format for all the documents you create in Office 2007. Here's the procedure for Word 2007:
- Open Word 2007.
- Click on the Office icon in the upper left corner of the window (highlighted in red below)
to open the Office menu.
- Click on the Word Options button in the lower right corner of the menu.
- In the Options list on the left, click on Save.
- In the Save documents area, use the drop-down menu to change the Save files in this format setting
to: Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)
Follow the same steps above to change the Save files in this format setting in Excel and PowerPoint.
If you RARELY send or share files with someone who uses Office XP, 2000, or 2004 for Mac, you can save a copy of your documents in an earlier format as needed. Here's the procedure for a Word document:
- Open your original Word 2007 file.
- Click on the Office button, and select Save As.
- Change the Save as type setting to: Word 97-2003 Document
Follow the same steps above to create shareable versions of your Excel and PowerPoint documents.
Using the Office 2007 Compatibility Checker
When you use certain new features in the Office 2007 programs, a Compatibility Checker window will open if any of your changes have made your document incompatible with earlier versions of Office.
In the example below, a Word 2007 user has used the new "SmartArt" feature to create a graphic. The Compatability Checker is informing the user that saving the document now will convert the graphic into an object that cannot be edited using previous versions of Word.
The user has the option to click Cancel if they don't want to lose compatibility with earlier versions of Word, or Continue if they aren't concerned about this.
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If you are an Office 2008 user, you will want to review these instructions for saving files that are compatible with older versions of Office.
If you REGULARLY send or share files with someone who users Office 2004 for Mac or Office 2003 for Windows, you should change the default "Save" format for all documents that you create in Office 2008.
- Open Word 2008.
- Click on the Word menu and choose Preferences.
- In the Word Preferences window, click on the Save icon.
- Change the Save Word files as dropdown to Word 97-2004 Document (.doc).
- Click OK.
Follow the same steps above to change the Save files as setting in Excel and PowerPoint.
If you OCCASIONALLY send or share files with someone who uses Office 2004 for Mac or Office 2003 for Windows, you can save a copy of your document in an earlier format.
- Open your original Word 2008 document.
- Click on the File menu and choose Save As.
- Change the Format to: Word 97-2004 Document (.doc).
Follow the same steps to create backwards-compatible versions of your Excel and PowerPoint documents.
When you save a document in Word 97-2004 (.doc) format, Office 2008 can check that you have not included any elemnts in your document that are incompatible with the earlier version.
To check the compatibility of your document:
- Click on the View menu then choose Comaptibility Report.
- From the Check Compatbility with dropdown menu, choose Word 97 - 2008.
- Word will quickly check your document for compatibility issues and display them in this window.
In the example above, this document may not look the same in an older version of Office.
- To view an explanation of the compatiblity problem and view occurances of the issue, click on the result. You can use the Fix and Ignore buttons to resolve the compatibility issues.
Follow the same steps above to check the compatibility of a document in Excel and PowerPoint.
To check the compatibility of your document from the Save As window:
- Open your original Word 2008 document.
- Click on the File menu and choose Save As.
- Select Word 97-2004 Document (.doc) Format.
- Click on the Compatibilty Report button.
- If Word detects a problem with your document, you will see the following message:
- Click OK to review the compatibility issues, and click Continue Saving to ignore them.
- If you click OK, the Compatibility Report will open in a floating window (often on the right-side of the screen).