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Microsoft has recently released two new versions of the Office application suite, Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for the Macintosh.

Office 2007 uses a new kind of file format called "Open XML." Open XML has many advantages, but unfortunately, files saved in that format are incompatible with the older versions of Office used on campus, Office 2003 for Windows and Office 2004 for Macintosh.

This document contains instructions for dealing with the file incompatibilities that are inevitable during this period of transition from older versions of Office to Office 2007 and 2008.

Choosing a file-saving format

Changing the default file-saving format
Working with older documents

Choosing a File-Saving Format

What happens if I save in the default format?
If you are an Office 2007 user, and you save documents in one of Office 2007's new default file formats (".docx" for Word, ".pptx" for PowerPoint, or ".xlsx" for Excel), here's what happens:

  • Other people using Office 2007 for Windows or Office 2008 for Macintosh will have no trouble opening, reading, or editing your file.

  • Office 97/2003 for Windows users won't be able to open your file until they install the Compatibility Pack plug-in.

  • Office 2004 for Macintosh users won't be able to open your file until they install the Open XML Converter plug-in.

How can I make my files accessible to more users?
If you save your files in Word 97-2003, Excel 97-2003, or PowerPoint 97-2003 format, ALL users will be to be able to open, read, and edit your files.

Is there any disadvantage to saving files in the older format? 
Any new Office 2007 features that are unsupported in older versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will be unavailable to people using the "97-2003" version of your document.

How do I save files in the older format?
The example below shows the location of the Save As and Word 97-2003 options in Word 2007. The corresponding choices are in the same location in Excel 2007 and PowerPoint 2007.



Getting the best of both worlds
You can create an Office 2007 file and use any new feature you wish, including those that aren't supported in older versions of your application.  If you then save your file as an Office 97-2003 document, the Microsoft Office Compatibility Checker will warn you about any functionality that may be lost in that version. 

For example, let's say you created a new Word 2007 document and inserted a "SmartArt" graphic in it. If you then save the file as a Word 97-2003 document, the Compatibility Checker will warn you that the "SmartArt" graphic will be converted to an object that can't be edited in older versions of Word if you proceed with the Save operation, as shown below.

If this outcome is acceptable, click Continue to save the file in Word 97-2003 format.

What if I want to edit my document later?
If you open a document saved in 97-2003 format, it will show the word [Compatibilty Mode] in the document title bar. In this mode, no new Word 2007 options will appear in your menus.

However, if you want to change any elements in your file that were created using the new options, just choose Convert from the Office menu. You will immediately have all Word 2007 options available to you again.

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Changing the Default File-Saving Format to an Older Version

You can force Office 2007 to always save documents in the old .doc, .ppt, or .xls file format. The example below uses Word 2007, but note that you must repeat these steps in each Office 2007 application you use.

  1. Click on the Office icon. 

  2. Click on the Word Options button.

  3. In the Options list on the left, click on Save.

  4. 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)

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Working with Older Documents

When you open an older documents in Office 2007, it opens in Compatibilty Mode.  The mode is indicated in the document's title bar, as shown below:

You can edit the file, but new features that are not supported in older versions of Word will be unavailable to this document as you continue edit.  The saved file will be saved in the compatibility mode, so everyone can still open, read, and edit the file. 

Note:  Saving the file as a Word 2007 document at this point will not convert it to that format. It will still open in Compatibility Mode and the new features will not be available.

To actually convert the file so you can take advantage of new Office 2007 features:

  1. Open the file.
  2. Immediately click on the Office button.
  3. Click Convert, as shown below.


Note: When you convert, you replace the old document with the converted document.  Office will warn you about the effect of making this change and give you a chance to change your mind.  If you're ready to convert, just click OK.

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 |  Last updated January 10, 2013

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