Office Backward Compatibility

December 18, 2009

Right now the latest version of Office is 2007. In case you forgot, Office can contain different applications like Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and so forth. There are different editions of Office that come with different combinations of applications, but all of them come with Word and Excel.

Anyway, with version 2007, they changed the format of how Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files are stored on your computer. In older versions, the files and file extensions of  “.doc”, “.xls”, and “.pps”. With the release of Office 2007, the file extensions changed to “.docx”,  “.xlsx”, and “.ppsx”.  They changed the file extension because the format in which the file is structured has changed.

So when someone sends you a word file with a “.doc” on the end, for example,  you know it’s in the older Word format and when they send you a file with a “.docx” on the end, you know it’s in the new Word format. If you have Office 2007, you can read the new format and the old formats. No problem there. But for those of you don’t have Office, or you have an older version of Office, you can’t read the “.docx”, “.xlsx”, and “.ppsx” files.

You could go out and purchase Office 2007, but it’s not cheap. And besides, you probably don’t’ really need it. Really all you need is to be able to open files sent to you that were created by Office 2007.

If you don’t have any version of Microsoft Office, then you will want to go and download the appropriate viewer from Microsoft’s website. These are separate, standalone programs you can download and install that let you view Office files. You would need to download the viewer for each application.

Here are the links for downloading each of the viewers:

Word Viewer

Excel Viewer

PowerPoint Viewer

If you have an older version of Office (from 2000 up to 2003), there is a better way. You can download the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack from Microsoft. It’s free. It will make your version of Word and Excel be able to view files stored in 2007 format. So you could then open and view files in the new format if someone sends you one. If you wanted to edit or change the contents of a file in the new format, you can do so, but you’ll need to save them in the older format. Your friends with the newer version of Office can read the old format.

To download and install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack, go to the link below.

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