Microsoft on Tuesday released the file format converters that allow Office 2004 for Mac to read the Open XML file formats that were introduced in Office 2007 for Windows. The converters were originally due to be available close to the launch of Office 2007, but have been delayed several times.
The delays meant that Office 2008, which supports the new formats, actually hit the market before the converters. Of course, since Microsoft makes money off new versions of Office and not off making the older product more compatible, perhaps that was part of the plan.
In any case, the converters are now available for download, along with some other updates for both Office 2004 and Office 2008.
One of the factors in the long wait for the converters, Microsoft said, was the fact that its team was hard at work on Office 2008. Perhaps a new hiring spree means that in the future Microsoft can offer both compatibility for older versions and work on new products at the same time.