May 15, 2007 11:00 AM PDT

Microsoft delays Office converters for Mac

As it tries to finish the next version of Office for the Mac, Microsoft has delayed efforts to enable current users of the productivity software to work with the new file formats used in the latest Windows version of the desktop software.

Microsoft now says a plug-in that will allow Office 2004 to fully work with the new formats won't be ready until six to eight weeks after the Office 2008 for Mac software suite ships, sometime in the second half of this year. Instead, the company is offering a separate downloadable converter program, starting Tuesday, designed to enable Office for Mac users to convert Word 2007's .docx files to the Rich Text Format, or RTF, which can be read by all Mac OS X versions of Office.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant said it hopes to have similar conversion tools for Excel and PowerPoint by the summer. This is not the first time Microsoft has pushed out its plans for Mac support for the new Office file formats. In December, Microsoft said a conversion tool for the formats, originally expected around the time of the product's January mainstream launch, wouldn't come until March or April.

"We had to make some choices," said Amanda Lefebvre, a marketing manager in Microsoft's Mac business unit. "We are continuing to focus our development on the completion of Office 2008."

On the Windows side of the house, Microsoft has a downloadable converter that enables Office 2003 to seamlessly process documents written in the new formats. As of January, Microsoft had said it planned to have a test version of a similar tool for Mac Office 2004 available this spring. Now, however, it says the full-featured tools will ship shortly after the release of Office 2008, which is designed to natively handle the new file formats.

Lefebvre said that while the Word converter tool being made available for download on Tuesday has some limitations, it also has some benefits, such as an option that lets people convert multiple documents at once.

"Part of our goal is to get something out there up and running," she said. "Word is the most frequently used (Office application)."

Lefebvre said Microsoft's efforts to finish Office 2008 are still on track, though she did not give any details about when or if a public beta version might be available. Microsoft said in March that it had started private testing of the software.

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38 comments

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FOSS converters already exist...
OpenOffice and NeoOffice already read/write those formats.
They can be used as a conversion tool, if needed.

It's peculiar that MS is allowing itself to fall behind in support of
it's own Office Suite and file formats. You'd think they'd show a
little love to Office users - it's 1 of the 2 products that they net
profits from, they should throw the customer a bone rather than
get them to download an open-source office suite that now has
better MS document format suport than MS' own products.
Posted by FellowConspirator (397 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ah,
cruel irony. Can't wait for a universal binary Office though.
Posted by jelloburn (252 comments )
Link Flag
They do not
Please give a link. Neither program supports them natively, and I can find no third party plug in.

The only thing not peculiar is a fan boy making up stuff at random in an ignorant attempt to make MS look bad.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
Link Flag
LOL!
"it's 1 of the 2 products that they net
profits from"
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
Fortunately for most Office users?
?this won't be a problem. I am a tech writer & get lots of documents from lots of different sources. So far, I haven't seen one .docx file yet.

From what I gather, it will be quite some time before the new office takes over the old.
Posted by irondog1970 (821 comments )
Reply Link Flag
yep - open source is better and free
At home, I use the free office versions, there are several of them available, word like programs, excel, db and all that works just as well and are free, why would I open up my pocket book and spend $600 for a full version ?

I understand maybe if a corporation wants to upgrade, but a lot of small businesses and other individuals, unless they do a lot of work related tings around it and make a living from that, I think would care less about at this point.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
I used to think that...
and then someone else in the office sent me a docx document that they had received and could not open.

And we're in education, not tech writing.
Posted by dagwud (44 comments )
Link Flag
Monopoly ?
Who says there's no monopoly. The EU has it right - only they're
too lenient with Microsoft.
Posted by BobHannan (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HahaHAAhaha
Apple more the deserves it, after all the company makes its living making negative ads targeting MS.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FutureGuy?
... No, more like PASTguy, as in, Microsoft's peak of domination in the industry is in the PAST.
Posted by MacVet (45 comments )
Link Flag
"... the company makes its living..."
And Microsoft tries to make its living from Vista by having Bill Gates LYING PUBLICLY that Vista is first with parental controls (2 years old in Mac OS X)and "security guys break the Mac every day..."-- this last quote not even worth the dignity of ANY retort...
Posted by MacVet (45 comments )
Link Flag
It wasn't a big deal in 97, and it's less of one now.
We went through this same game when Microsoft released Office 97 with new file formats.

No one rushed out to upgrade to O97 and those that did ended up having to Save As the old formats when their customers, etc. returned the files as unreadable.

A lot more people use MS Office now than in 97, and since there hasn't been a single featured added in the last 10 years that most users want or need, very few people are in a rush to buy the latest Office versions.

Besides, a growing number of goverments and businesses are requiring documents in Open Document Format, not Microsoft Open Office XML.

It will be years, if then, before anyone really needs to be able to read Microsoft's new formats.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Umm
I dont think you have used Office 2007. It is by far the best version yet. I know of many companies making the switch.

I also think any current Open office product compared to Office 2007 is a total joke.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
A shareware rescue?
The Mac has always been supported by a rather brilliant developer community. After this announcement, I wouldn't be surprised to see a more elegant third-party solution arriving within weeks. I work in a fairly large college computer lab and we've only seen a couple of docx files come through so far.
Posted by catbus99 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There already is one...
as pointed out earlier in the thread, NeoOffice has been able to
open Word OpenXML files for over two months now.
Posted by No invasion of privacy (52 comments )
Link Flag
That's okay, Microshit, we're all using NeoOffice/OpenOffice anyway!
<eom>
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
yep, we are!
Neo Office is cool, I use that, open office is cool too, but takes longer to start, because X needs to start first, either way, it all works just as good and is less annoying.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
yep, we are!
Neo Office is cool, I use that, open office is cool too, but takes longer to start, because X needs to start first, either way, it all works just as good and is less annoying.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly
I have zero use for MS Office on the Mac, and haven't for about seven years now.

I think during that whole time there have been about five Word-built .doc files that I couldn't open; none of which had any real importance.

I can happily continue using NeoOffice on the Mac and OOo on Linux, thanks much.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft and delay's go together
I am getting used too delay's coming from Microsoft. They eather
have too optimistic of a schedule or their programmer's find out
they screwed up in the last month's of a project. I actually think
their is another Vista floating around Microsoft that could not be
completed.
Posted by jesmac418 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Delays are commonplace
OSX was delayed so that Apple could focus on a cell phone instead of their computer users. This isn't uncommon in the industry. You set priorities and work with what is there.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
Delays are commonplace
OSX was delayed so that Apple could focus on a cell phone instead of their computer users. This isn't uncommon in the industry. You set priorities and work with what is there.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
who cares
There are so many better products out there for the Mac from the Open Community and they are all free. Who needs a half baked product anyways.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Reply Link Flag
who cares
There are so many better products out there for the Mac from the Open Community and they are all free. Who needs a half baked product anyways.
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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