Microsoft Monday

With the introduction of Microsoft Word 2007 came a new file extension. Prior to Word 2007, documents were saved in the .doc file format. Now by default, documents are saved in the .docx file format. The X attached to the end signifies that it is in the Open XML format which was developed by Microsoft specifically for Office 2007. While most people welcome the change because it is based on open XML standards and reduces the file size, some have found it frustrating.

The problem? Well, if you create a document in Word 2007 and then email it to someone who has a previous version of Word, they won’t be able to open it with the new format. Luckily there are several options to fix the problem.

Save Your Documents in Word 97–2003 Format

As mentioned, if you’re using Word 2007, your documents will automatically be saved in the .docx file format unless you specify otherwise. One easy solution to this problem is to just save all of your files that you could potentially be sharing with others in the Word 97–2003 format.


To do this, just click on the Office Orb (previously known as File), then mouse-over the “save-as” option. You’ll notice that one of the options says “Word 97–2003 Document” and explains that using this option, you will save a copy of the document that is fully compatible with Word 97–2003. Problem solved!

Compatibility Pack

Microsoft wanted to make sure that there was an additional way to solve this problem. They created the compatibility pack so that those using older versions of Word can download t and install it so that they can read the newer file format.

The compatibility pack allows users to create and edit Open XML files using Office 2000, Office XP, and Office 2003. After installation of the Compatibility pack, you’ll have no problems viewing the files.

When using the compatibility pack, keep in mind that there may be some instances when you won’t be able to change some of the content because of either new or enhanced features.  One example that they give is that equations will become a graphic, and you won’t be able to change it.

Download Compatibility Pack Here.

What about Mac Users?

As of mid-May, there’s a “.docx” file converter available for Mac users. Much like the compatibility pack above, the converter can convert both .docx files and .docm files into RTF (Rich Text format) so that they can be opened in Microsoft Word 2004 and Microsoft Word X.

Download Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac

OppenOffice Open XML Translator

Last but not least, what about those using Well, they haven’t been forgotten either.  Novell has put together a translator that will provide support for those trying to open and save “.docx” formatted documents using

Download OpenOffice Open XML Translator

Wrapping it up

With just about every area covered, there should be no problems for those of you who send .docx files to friends and colleagues who do not use Word 2007. And just the same, for those of you who don’t have Office 2007, but you receive files from Word 2007 in the .docx file format, it should be smooth sailing with one of the listed solutions; whether it be saving the file in the Office 97–2003 format, or using a converter.