One of my pet peeves is the new *.docx format for word processing documents made with Microsoft Office 2007 and higher. I can’t seem to train all my friends to back-save files in the *.doc format, so I need to deal with this compatibility issue at my end. I am perfectly happy running Windows XP, and Office 2003. My home office does not need either the “new” features (read: more memory intensive) of a higher version, or the expense of upgrading.
However, there is hope for those of us who are stubborn or broke! There is free conversion software from Microsoft, and it’s not even difficult to install. Here’s how to get and use the Microsoft Compatibility Pack. This little piece of software is only 37 MB, so it’s pretty unobtrusive.
You need to go to the Microsoft Download Center, where you will find this compatibility pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Formats. This product will not allow you to translate newer versions of documents, spreadsheets and Power Point media programs, as the title implies.
Before downloading, you need to be sure that all High Priority Updates to your Windows system have been performed. If you have your computer set for automatic updates, this has been done already. To find out if you have the updates, in “classic view” click on Start/ Control Panel/ System /Automatic Updates. If it is set to receive updates automatically, you are good. If you use “category view” the order is Start/ Control Panel/ Performance and Maintenance/ System/ Automatic Updates. If you are not set up to receive automatic updates, you’ll need to follow the link from the Download Center to get the High Priority Updates. For more information as to exactly which updates are required, see Microsoft Support.
Once this is done, you can click to download the compatibility pack. This takes a few minutes, and places a file called FileFormatConverters.exe on your computer (wherever you have you computer set to place downloads). You’ll need to click on this program icon, once it has finished downloading. It will automatically be installed as a part of your Microsoft Office software. You’ll get a message when the installation is complete.
At this point, you may wonder what to do, because there are no further instructions given! As seems to be so often true, those who understand how a product works just leave out key pieces of information which don’t seem obvious at all to those who just want to use the product. Such as “open a file, ” for example.
Well, that’s really all there is to it. Now, you just click on the file name, and the file will open. You can also open your version of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, and open the file. However, you will need to choose “All Files *.*” from the types of files to choose from in the Open Files dialogue box. Otherwise, the newer format files will not be presented as an option in the list of available files.
If you want to edit the file, you will need to first save it in the format that your version uses.