January 3, 2008 7:21 AM PST

Office 2003 update blocks older file formats

The latest service pack for Microsoft Office 2003 has made a range of older files inaccessible, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, it emerged this week.

Office 2003 Service Pack 3, which was made available in September, blocks a lengthy list of word-processing file formats, including Word 6.0 and Word 97 for Windows, and Word 2004 for Macintosh. It also blocks older versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Lotus Notes, Corel Quattro spreadsheet, and Corel Draw graphics package.

On releasing the service pack, Microsoft said one of its main benefits was that it would make it easier to interoperate with Microsoft's latest operating system, Vista, and its latest productivity suite, Office 2007. The older file formats that are now blocked are in decreasing day-to-day use, but the blocking of them will make retrieval of archived material more difficult.

The changes were revealed in a Microsoft support document, which was uploaded to its site in December. Users were given no warning of the effects when they downloaded SP3.

In the support document, Microsoft said SP3 blocked access to those formats because they were less secure than newer versions. "By default, these file formats are blocked because they are less secure. They may pose a risk to you," it said.

Microsoft released details of a work-around to restore access. The work-around requires changes to the registry, which could render a PC unusable if carried out incorrectly.

The work-around was branded by one critic on tech Web site Slashdot as "mind-bogglingly complex."

Other users responded negatively to the change. A system administrator at a U.K. university, who asked not to be named, called it "a money-making exercise," adding that it would cause a problem to the central IT resource not to have access to some older file formats but that the effect would be greater on other less "progressive" departments within the university.

Microsoft could offer no comment at the time of writing on why it had blocked access to the file formats.

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft Office 2003, productivity suite, Corel Corp., Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word

184 comments

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There is no reason for this
All MS formats and products are a security risk, that is a given. At least they are admitting it.

This is yet another example of MS needing to resort to sleazy tactics to force upgrades without looking at the big picture.

It is also a poignant reminder why open standards are necessary. Your data is held hostage at the whims of a giant corporation whose only means of making more money is to attempt to force upgrades.

Convert all your files, old and new to ODF and ditch the lock-in and forced upgrades, along with the massive amounts of security risk.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't switch to ODF
because it is going the way of the dodo. Really, all old 'archived' stuff after a period of about 5 years, I get rid of, unless it is online stories, and those I save in .MHT format.

Office 2007 is one of the BEST products I have ever used, and there is no 'lock-in' and 'forced upgrades' at all, even in Vista you can STILL TURN OFF AUTOMATIC UPDATES!
Posted by Leria (585 comments )
Link Flag
ODF Abandoned
"Convert all your files, old and new to ODF"

One online source states:

"A group formed to promote the OpenDocument Format has abandoned ODF in favour of a rival format from the W3C,..."

No, I don't want to convert all of my Microsoft files to an abandoned, obsolete, format.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Link Flag
If anyone had any doubts about using ODF . . .
This confirms the need to use ODF and/or other open formats.

There is no reason for MS to drop support for their older formats
other than their desire to force their customers to upgrade to
their latest software.

Most business users don't use any feature of MS Office that
aren't available in Office 97 and therefore never need to
upgrade. That says a lot about the quality of MS software but
doesn't do anything for their sales. So they stoop to tricks like
this in an attempt to stimulate sales.

A growing number of countries and businesses have wisely
decided it's time to bid adieu to MS formats. Those that don't
will live to regret it.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Not to Mention...
Not to mention all of your customers and business contacts would have to do the same - or else business grinds to a halt. Microsoft doing this to Office, especially while gas (and everything else) goes through the roof, is outright unconscionable. Back in the day this would fall under the Jeopardy category of "Anti-Trust".
Posted by troppp (58 comments )
Link Flag
MicrobigBrotherSoft!
I want to take this opportunity to thank Microbigbrothersoft for taking the insinuative and showing me that all my old documents and files pose a risk to me and my computer..... I realize that I am incapable of protecting myself. That's is why I am removing all my Microbigbrothersoft files including office, Money, explorer and finally windows and going with all open source software. Thank you microbigbrothersoft for showing me the way!

Man what a SCAM!
Posted by Mike Van De North (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This makes no sense
The only reason for having M$ Office on a computer is to have something with which to practice uninstalling software. As long as it is used as developed, there should never be any "documents" or security risk from them.
Posted by {DvT}Hex (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE: This makes no sense
Actually, there is an even easier way to practice uninstalling MS
programs. format C:\ :-)
Posted by protagonistic (1868 comments )
Link Flag
LMAO
.....too true, "with which to practice uninstalling software," and too funny.
Posted by Grumpyz77 (19 comments )
Link Flag
Bass Ackwards Again
The non-compatibility is no surprise and just gives one more reason to find more replacements for MS programs. What is inexcusable is publishing a release and then 4 months later doing an, ?Oh by the way your legacy data is useless document.? Unfortunately I did the update and found out the hard way that there is an incompatibility issue. The registry hack doesn?t work either. The MS tech I ended up with had to have me do a uninstall and lengthy clean-up. (And it still doesn?t clean it all) What?s the best business productivity bundle for LINUX or even MS for that matter that will read new and old Office documents? It just goes to show the fact that if you keep telling the same lie long enough it will become fact. Now progress is defined as moving backwards. Thanks Bill.
Posted by Grumpyz77 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You can still open those documents in Open Office
While you are there converting your docs, make sure you give it a spin. Likely, it will do everything you need it to do.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
I'm wondering
what files did you try to open that MS Office didn't. I try to find one in my office. MS Office opened every one. Honestly, I'm interested. I can still install MS office 2003 w/o the update but I've found no files pertinent to this issue. Thanks.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
Latest Microsoft products
I tried Vista ... went back to XP. I tried Office 2007 and went back to Office 2003. (Mostly due to the way Outlook handled flagged e-mails and the generally slowness (glacial) of the product.)

Now apparently I need to avoid service packs because some knucklehead wants to remove existing features. (Such as the ability to read my archived files ... which I do on a regular basis.)

I sincerely hope the next generation of products are better otherwise I'll be on XP for a LONG time. (Or switch to Linux or a Mac.)

If nothing else ... this had really shown me the value of open document formats.
Posted by driven01 (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You actually have
documents in an 11y/o file format??? Why?
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
This is typical Microsoft
Older files less secure? Maybe....

Real reason...."If we build it, they no longer come, but if we break the old stuff they will buy the new stuff to maintain compatibility."

This is nothing more than a totally sick ploy to force people who use pre 2k3 to get 2k7...which is a piece of crap.
Posted by ittesi259 (727 comments )
Reply Link Flag
M$ shows it's true colours...AGAIN!
I have been using M$ products ever since my first computer, a TRS-80 Model I. After years and years of touting that they want to stay true to their "legacy" programming, and their backward compatibility "legacy" initiatives, they now do this! If they wanted to do this, they should have just done it at the beginning of the creation of Longhorn/Vista, and started building their OS from the ground up, and not tout the old with the new attitude that they always state when they remake their old Windoze OS. This is just more proof that Microshaft is not thinking of their customer base, but only their own bottom line and pocketbook. Have you seen the prices for Office 2007? Program version upgrades are never as good as the complete versions of the same program. Yet, M$ wants to charge 2x to 2.5x more for the complete versions of the same program! Now, this update of Office 2003, is now going to make all of your records from 10 years ago, OBSOLETE! For all of those reading this, declare war on this fascist attitude of take it 'cause we say so, and switch to OpenOffice.org. It has all the code and backward-compatibility you need for your older file formats, and they have the code for the newest formats, as well. M$ touts that the older formats are less secure. That's just not true. It's THEIR OS that has security problems, not the file formats. If they were to shore up and secure the codes that allow the system to acknowledge those formats, there wouldn't be a concern for security over these formats. This is the tail wagging the dog at its best! Again, M$ wants to blame the older code of theirs on Word, Excel, Power-point, and other versions from other vendors. No, Mr. Ballmer, it's the OS, stupid! Your productivity software is only as secure as your OS! Now is the time to revolt! Go to OpenOffice.org, download the latest version, and say goodbye to M$ Office. I did 4 years ago, and never regretted it! If you feel a bit guilty not paying anything for this great program, they do accept donations. You can feel better about it all, and a $50 donation per year to them goes a long way. OpenOffice updates its code about every 6 months. Ubuntu, Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, OpenSUSE, MEPIS Linux, and dare I say, A MAC are looking better and better every single day! Could this be the beginning of the end for M$'s proprietary software stranglehold? We can only hope so. By M$ taking this action, it sure looks like it will. The more you tighten your grip M$, the more computer systems will slip through your fingers! The Problem: M$ Office 2003 SP3. The solution: OpenOffice.org!
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft Lied. Blatantly.
Security does not rest in the file format, but in how the application (any application) handles the file contents.

A chunk of malicious VB script in a .doc macro by itself is worthless and harmless when opened with an app that isn't MS Word (e.g. OpenOffice, TextEdit in Apple OSX, etc). That same chunk of VB scripted macro, when MS Office opens it? Well, that's a whole other story...

This is nothing more than a naked attempt to bolster sagging sales and force the upgrade treadmill to spin just a little faster.

IMHO, an business with even a teaspoon of sense would seriously consider converting their documentation (and spreadseets, etc) to an open-standard (for instance ODF) format, so they can at least open and edit those files 10 years from now without fearing obsolescence or periodically wasting time on mass conversion.

Ironically, MS Office 2003 has a plugin to convert documents to ODF format.

Of course, once you do this, you may just discover that you no longer need MS Office for much of anything, considering the free and highly capable alternatives already out there.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well said.
Well said, Penguinisto!
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Link Flag
Absolutely right on the mark
So, where do I go to get professional support on OpenOffice? I would like to get on site support by a trained IT professional certified for OpenOffice support. Mind you, they need to be legally responsible for that that support, so opensource need not apply.

Please provide that resource.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
Put your money where your mouth is
If you honestly feel that Microsoft lied blatantly as you put it, then please sue them. Take them to court. Do something about it instead of whining like a petulant little kid.

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
PUT IT BACK!
As an IT Director, I use Microsoft's Windows Update service to keep my workstations patched with the latest security and bug fixes for Windows and Office. I do not have an installed platform for internal centralized pushing of these updates.

As a public relations firm, my company has at least 20 years of material in various Word formats, that folks often review and tailor for new business needs. It will be a HUGE problem for our firm for my users to come in after an evening of automatic Windows Updates, and find they can no longer open historical documents. I will NOT go desktop to desktop to edit registry files.

I am trusting Windows Update to keep my desktops safe from possible outside attacks. I do not expect Windows Update to remove existing functionality, and certainly not without warning!!! I fully expect Microsoft to restore the older file compatibility with a new emergency Windows Update, to be release immediately!
Posted by mike.gw (942 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dude!
Stop "TRUSTING" Microsoft! This is the same problem that the public has had with Microshaft all along! They don't CARE about your firm, your documents, or your loyalty. OK. Your firm has spent A LOT of money on this software. It's time to stop the bleeding! M$ did this INTENTIONALLY! They WANT to force your firm to buy their latest and greatest, while trying to eliminate your ability to use older documents. You are angry, and rightfully so. But don't go runnin' to the beast that created this problem in the first place! OpenOffice.org will run all of your older documents and .doc's with ease, as well as your PowerPoint, and Excel documents. You can program OpenOffice.org to write your documents in .doc format as well read them. It's time to start using OpenOffice.org, and STOP TRUSTING Microsoft!
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Link Flag
No offense, but...
...sucks to be you, 'mano.

Fear not, though - I suspect that a few of my peers over at main corp IT (I'm in the R&D side) were sweating bullets since yesterday over whether or not to push the Office 2k3 SP out. I don't care either way... OpenOffice will handle old or new .doc and .xls files, no sweat.

By the by, a word of advice: never, ever, ever, ever patch blindly. You're discovering the primary reason why. Always have a 'canary' machine or two out there (I have a small subnet of 'em) to test on.

[i]"I fully expect Microsoft to restore the older file compatibility with a new emergency Windows Update, to be release immediately!"[/i]

Don't hold your breath.

You do have a solution, though it'll require a bit of manpower: grab some copies of OpenOffice and start converting older/archival documents en-masse to ODF, while you start doing a roll-back of the SP on those user machines which got it installed (you could roll it into an .msi and push that to save some time). Then make sure your users have the ODF plugin (Microsoft distributes an MS Office one for free).

I recommend doing both for two reasons: The first is a step towards a permanent solution (by converting your old docs to a format that won't get locked out at vendor whim), and the second is an interim solution until you can replace MS Office with OpenOffice, which can read pretty much any format you got.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
windows update for security? haha!
why would you trust microsoft for anything, let alone trusting windows update to keep your desktops safe?

thats one of the funniest thing i ever heard.

if security is important to you... linux

and this has been a long known fact that windows itself is considered the worst piece of malware out there. even internet explorer is considered a windows API that gives hacker direct access to users hardware.

and now that microsoft has released some code to the Samba server guys, we should be seeing more and more reasons to dump windows for good.
Posted by dualmalaise (6 comments )
Link Flag
IT stands for Idiotic Turkey?
It's beyond me that, given years to do so, that as an IT Director, you haven't implemented a process of converting the old files. What, waiting for the sky to fall? Or milking your job?
Posted by oxtail01 (308 comments )
Link Flag
Demand?
<i>I am trusting Windows Update to keep my desktops safe from possible outside attacks. I do not expect Windows Update to remove existing functionality, and certainly not without warning!!! I fully expect Microsoft to restore the older file compatibility with a new emergency Windows Update, to be release immediately!</i>

Or what? You'll cry and pound your fists on the floor?

If that doesn't work, will you hold your breath until you turn blue and die, so that Steve Ballmer will <u>really</u> be sorry?
Posted by lumbercartel (6 comments )
Link Flag
Call your attorney...
How can Microsoft take away functionality one purchased? Sounds like MSFT is really asking for trouble here. They might point out that you agreed to some wording in a lengthy license agreement that nobody reads, but the bottom line is that you bought a program that suddenly broke and you have hundreds or thousands of computers to fix.

This can be horribly expensive for any business.

Heck, even on my home machine, I'm periodically frustrated by the fact that I cannot open an older .doc file with Office 2007. I love Office 2007, honestly, but the fact I cannot open an older file really makes me mad. Fortunately, I have Office 2003 sitting on another machine, but this is not a workable solution forever.

Microsoft really needs to add support back for older files to both Office 2003 and 2007!
Posted by paulej (1261 comments )
Link Flag
LOL at you,
As an IT director, I learned from the release of Office2000. Remember Access? No? 20 years? Never updated or thought there would be a problem with file formats? Did you just get your job? If you did, then, welcome to the tech world. If you have been there for several years then I would ask "How much does your company pay?" I'm always looking for a better paying job. Lotus?? Please. Old Wordperfect? Really. I read the article this morning and made a bee-line to the office. Check every file we had.(Old office files and wp files.) Office opened everyone. I'd honestly be interested in hearing about someone actually being harmed by this and what files were affected. Anyone posting here got anything?
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
Not an issue afterall
I don't get the issue. I have Office 2003 with SP3 and I just tried opening my archived Word and Excel files going back to 1991. No Problem. Everything opens fine.

What's all the fuss about?
Posted by yo_supermom (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, maam...
Do you have a .doc file from 1985? If you do, then try to open it. You'll see.
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Link Flag
You sure it's installed?
MSFT was adamant about locking out anything more than 10 years old.

It is also likely that you opened the older files previously in MS Office 2k3 and saved them, which would bump the version/formatting up to 2k3.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Don't use MS formats for archival
This just highlights the stupidity of using MS formats for
document archival. It isn't the only problem with doing that,
either. For instance:

- Some versions of Word have in the past saved corrupted files
under some circumstances, which open in that version of Word,
but no later version.

- Often people link rather than embed objects, which means you
need to keep the other files too (often this doesn't happen, or
they're at a different path and so can't be located automatically).

For archival purposes, it's best to store things in PDF. You might
keep the original files too, but as this demonstrates, there's no
guarantee that you will be able to open them in future.
Posted by ajhoughton (133 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tis why I use Open Office.
I haven't bought a new version of Office since 2000.

Is OO perfect? No. Its still a resource hog, slow to load. But it works, its free, and it gets the job done. Plus I don't have to worry about Microsoft doing something stupid every other week.

NWLB
***************
NWLBtech.com
Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You and who else?
Guess you don't work for any legitimate business.
Posted by oxtail01 (308 comments )
Link Flag
So what?
What's the big deal. People who still run and retain ancient file formats shouldn't give a Sh... about going with sp3 anyway. Maybe they're all happy still running DOS software. If they'rew so upset about MS they can very easily convert to some other format offered by lesser known vendors. I don't know of any semi-literate computer users who haven't at least converted their old files. All you MS haters are getting ridiculous in your rants. I'm no MS lover either but if we had it your way, MS would still need to support all DOS formats. Stop your childish crying and grow up!
Posted by oxtail01 (308 comments )
Reply Link Flag
are you 12?
there are businesses (it has a lot of syllables) that have files they need "archived" (2 syllables) for several years (not like the little 300 word essays you right for school that you only need for a week).

they need to be able to access these files whenever they want... not when microsoft decides they should.

do you understand or should i type slower?
Posted by dualmalaise (6 comments )
Link Flag
So what?
Why should a company have to spend many, many hours every few years updating their document archive? Office is supposed to INCREASE productivity, not make it more expensive to use.

The support for these formats were in Office 2003, they didn't need to do any work to keep supporting them. They did however have to spend time blocking it.

Now many soon-to-be former customers are going to have to spend time and money converting them. If they are smart it will not be to any lock in format like .docx.

It doesn't matter how ancient a file format is. There is no reason to take out existing functionality.

This is typical unethical behavior from Microsoft and if you can't see it, then you are simple willfully blind or just plain ignorant.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Old formats
I sometimes need to pull paragraphs and tables out of old documents to prove a point. Some of those old documents are in .WQ1 format, some are even older.

Convert them to PDF? And not be able to use some of them for the purpose I'm keeping them around?
Posted by Phillep_H (497 comments )
Link Flag
In unrelated news
The next TV advert from Apple will have John Hodges lamenting
how he can not open his old Word files
Posted by Lee in San Diego (608 comments )
Reply Link Flag
History for All readers
It says Word 97 format was removed. If you didn't know, Word 2000 introduced a slightly diffrent format called Word 2000. Office 2003 saves in both formats (Word 97-2003) so it will open in either Word 97, Word 2000, Word XP, Word 2003. Now Office 2003 SP3 can just save to Word 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007.

Oh no! Word 97 users are left in the dust! But... kind of like IE5 users, they must be getting used to things not displaying right ANYWAY.

What doesn't quite make sense (of all the really acient formats that should have been blocked... but maybe in 2007) is that Word 2004 for Mac format was blocked.
Posted by timber2005 (720 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What?
It doesn't only hurt Word 97 users, and there are alot of them.

Do you realize how many archived business files are out there that are in older formats?

Seriously, you should understand an issue before spouting off on it.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Saving is not the problem
Reading all the years of accumulated files is the problem. If you have files in a document management system, or Notes, or complex nested folders on a network share for a corporation, you need to be able to access historical data. It's the DATA that's valuable on a corporate network, because it represents knowledge. If I have years of files in Word 95 or Word 97 format, I need to be able to read them in the latest versions of Word.
Posted by mike.gw (942 comments )
Link Flag
Don't worry, the sky's not falling
It's weird how certain people only "trust" Microsoft when someone tells them that Microsoft has "admitted" doing something heinous.

Here's a clue - SP3 was released 3 months ago. If your automatically updated users haven't been complaining about lost functionality by now, they're very unlikely to start showing up at your door tomorrow morning.
Posted by JJarJam (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The sky fell, but nobody noticed.
If this was a real issue, we would have heard about it before this. Strange that even the OpenOffice enthusiasts haven't picked up on this in the last three months. Perhaps because... it's a non-issue?


Come to think of it, my desktop doesn't have a 5.25" floppy disk in it either. That's obviously a conspiracy.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
Here are even more clues...
* Are you suggesting that Microsoft lied about blocking older formats?

* When it comes to retrieving archived files, time scales tend to be a bit larger than the week or so after an update/patch. And you're right - they are unlikely to show up at the door tomorrow morning. However, when they finally get around to opening a file and can't - then what? Go to the CIO and demand that the corp pay up a massive vig to Microsoft just to be able to read the files?

* Speakin' of time scales, have you ever heard of Sarbanes-Oxley by any chance? It's gonna be fun when a department gets compliance-audited sometime off in the near future, but can't retrieve the mandatory archival files because MSFT wanted a couple more sales. After all, if they're willing to pull this stunt today, what's to stop them from tightening the noose a little when Office 2009/10/whatever comes out?

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Open Office is NOT the answer
In a corporate environment, you don't have a user base full of geeks anxious to try out every new release of Linux and Open Office. While we may not like it, Microsoft Windows and Office are an entrenched standard. Moving away from the standard involves serious issues for a corporation:

Training
10 to 15 years ago, it was a must to train each new hire in the proper use of MS Office. Now, you have folks coming out of college who are proficient in MS Office and Windows. As a result, a business' training costs are dramatically slashed.

Support
With more users and support staff knowledgable in MS Office, that creates a readily available pool of knowledge to help solve problems. Even if a new staffer can't get the helpdesk on the phone, their cubicle neighbor may know how to assist them in doing a mail merge. If a small business relies on outside consultants, there are larger pools of MS Office expertise available for hire, than there are for Open Office.

Compatibility
Businesses rely on not just MS Office, but a variety of plugins/macros/etc that are designed to work with MS Office to get the job done. It's almost as if MS Office becomes a platform in that regard for development. Going with a solution other than MS Office may break these applications. Bloomberg's news software has a plugin that works with Excel, for instance. Then, you can even have variations in how different programs read a complex formatted file. There is always some format issue when using one program to read another's file format. If a client sends a business a Word 2003 file, and the business edits it in Open Office, what happens if Open Office drops a special style bullet that the client chose in Word? Do you tell your client to find another style bullet compatible with your copy of Open Office? Not if you want to stay in business!

I'm not advocating for Microsoft. If I had my way, we would still be using Netware and Groupwise! Or maybe Linux. The point is that if you have thousands of clients (as we do) that you share files with, or many programs that depend on the presence of known standards, bucking the standard introduces compatibility issues for the business. Until Open Office reaches that critical mass, it will not replace MS Office as the business standard. In fact, I'd bet there are more copies of Corel WordPerfect (free with some PCs) in use than there are of Open Office.
Posted by mike.gw (942 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WTF?
Office 2007 requires a LOT of training, therefore should not be adopted by your standards, right?

OpenOffice has nothing to do with Linux, so why bring that up?

OpenOffice is at least as easy to use as Office 2003 is. Anyone competent with 2003 can easily make the transition.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Depends on the corporation
What needs done to stay in business is not a fixed definition. At the office I work in, there are very few PCs. it's all Unix or Linux, with Linux growing as Unix fades out here since it costs more in various ways. On my desk, I have a Linux box. Guess what! I am not able to run MS Office. Our single IT guy isn't wiling to support MS Office on Wine, but is willing to support programs made for our OSes. Sure, our corporate offices tend to more often use PCs and email memos in powerpoint or word files. If OpenOffice mangles them, I don't read them. I don't have MS Office or Powerpoint, so I can't do it that way. I'm not allowed to put my personal laptop on the network to access that stuff, and I'm not willing to buy one just for MS Office anyway. I rarely even try to read those things anyway, and I've worked here for 9 years so it must not be detrimental to my employment. OK, I'm an engineer at a chip design company, and maybe that's not a "typical" corporate environment, but it's the one I have experience with, and my particular experience shows that corporate survival does not depend on 100% of employees using newest versions of MS Office.

I think it's ironic that you say compatibility is such an important point, considering the article was about MS reducing compatibility even with its own aging versions of programs.
Posted by amigabill (93 comments )
Link Flag
Paving The Way For Google Apps
This is a strong argument for moving to Google Apps. Let's face 90% of Office users use 10% of it's functionality. If there's not going to be any compatibility with anything else, why not switch to Google Apps. Most of my new documents go into Google Apps because in most cases, they are quick documents that I need to write up and it's nice to have them accessible anywhere.

For more complicated there might be justification for using an Office Suite but I don't know that it's work $800.
Posted by frankz00 (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not in my opinion
1st off, this is a bad move by ms. I don't agree with the logic
behind this change and I really don't like the fact that it wasn't
fully disclosed with the update. This is exactly the kind of thing
that people don't like about ms. bad move imo

That said, google docs is no answer. The word "beta" should
give you pause if nothing else does. There is no guarantee at all
that google docs will be around in 6 days let alone 6 months.

Secondly, everyone likes to tout the 10% usage statistic...but no
one seems to realize that everyone doesn't use the same 10%! 1
guy might do a lot of mail merge, another a lot of word tables
and a 3rd might manage huge docs with multiple sections and
hyperlinking within the document. Many more examples could
be pulled out of every day use. The fact is that ms office
accommodates all those users. Open Office doesn't. Google
docs certainly doesn't. In a large organization with many
different types of users, how can OO or gdocs fit the bill? In my
experience it can't. Furthermore, if I found out that someone in
my organization was putting sensitive company information on
an advertiser's server (i.e. google docs) i'd fire them immediately.
That's simply irresponsible.

oh, and ms office doesn't cost $800 I found the pro copy for
$400 bucks on buy.com before any kind of volume discounts. i
am sure the large users I am referencing in this post pay much
less than that, if anything at all (SA benefits)
Posted by gp2792 (176 comments )
Link Flag
Boneheads!!!
Microsoft is so big and has its resources spread so thin that make stupid decisions as if they were fresh out of college with absolutely no clue about the industry, the technology, the history, or purpose of the products. Why are we making backups and archives if we cannot access the files in the future?
Posted by winstein (460 comments )
Reply Link Flag
money is always the answer
they do it because this way... ballmer can make more money selling a new service that will fix this new bug.

its disgusting. forcing hardware vendors to only produce windows-only hardware, and pulling this kind of crap with their own legal customers.

man i wish we had a country that worked.
Posted by dualmalaise (6 comments )
Link Flag
WordPerfect an option?
Is there any chance that word perfect/Corel Suite can be used to supplant office? It's the only commercially sustained product I know of that nears Office's level of features.
Posted by bob donut (90 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In all seriousness
For short notes with some basic formatingI use TextEdit, for
anything more than that I use InDesign. I find Word to be clunky to
use.
Posted by Lee in San Diego (608 comments )
Link Flag
Much ado about nothing!!!
Just more MS bashing. I read the story this morning. The first thing I did at work was to try and find files that MSOffice couldn't open. My office was using MS office2000 when I got there. I upgraded them to 2003 upon arrival. Since then I put 2007 on my machine and found no difficulties, so I had just started installing 2007 on the new PCs we have purchased. This office sometime in the past had used Wordperfect and we still have the program on some machines. All the legacy files I could find opened using my machine. So, I thought maybe MS did this only to office2003. So I used another machine to open the files. Same result. I'm not sure exactly how old the file formats have to be other than prob. coming from MS original office. Lotus??? Does anyone still use that? Quatro, I'm not sure how far back one has to go. Sucks for the Mac users, but really, they are just Mac users. (Sorry, couldn't help it.) Outside of the Mac users, no one really has a complaint. If your keeping important archives without updating the format every DECADE or so....well, here's your sign. I'm really wondering if someone really has run into this.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not enough testing
So if you didn't have a problem on a install that might not even have SP3, then no one does?

MS itself said they did this.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Index card files
I've been wondering why my mother spent her entire holiday going through 3x5 index membership cards for a non-profit organization I helped her build a website for. I also wondered why I was able to read the old membership files in my Office 2000 Excel, but she was unable to. Now I know - she has Office 2003. Yes, the files came off some ancient Windows 95 machine, but that doesn't make their information any less necessary to the proper running of the organization - and shall we order all the age 70 plus volunteers to buy new computers in order to volunteer their time? ... this would include our membership chairperson, our treasury committee chair, and both vice presidents. Right now Mom has them snail-mailing hard copies of all documents, and she, at age 78, is transferring data by hand into Office '03 and Publisher '07. Yes, I tend to think MS has a bit of a case of tunnel vision. I don't hate them - almost everything I have is either MS or MS compatible. It doesn't mean I approve of everything they do - the same as with my 13 year old son.

And no, I never upgraded my old file formats - hence, I am stuck with tons of old 5" floppies full of info that isn't stored anywhere else, and yes, I was dumb enough to let the opportunities to update them slip through ... personal data, but beloved by me, nonetheless. I DO still insist on having a floppy drive on all my computers, though, unlike some folks - but even I don't have anything that can read a 5 inch floppy. Does that make me archaic? I doubt it - I'm like Mike, I'll try anything. I don't know a darn thing about computers, but I'll download any kind of demo, beta, or free trial just to play. So much for this particular computer - Windows Live OneCare destroyed my registry, and I still haven't gotten it back to normal two months after removing the offender - but that's okay - I can always reformat.

Back to the original story - to me, there is no reason to insult those who have not upgraded their files for whatever reason - in the case of my mother's associates, simply because they'd have to buy a whole new computer, and they don't need to - they never go online. I do, however, feel sorry for my mother, who, as president, has taken it on herself to be responsible for that agency, as well as another non profit AND her own business. The learning curve IS steep - and she's much braver than I am, to take on Publisher '07 with no training.
Posted by Kasey156 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS Service Packs always BREAK stuff.
Sharepoint 2003 no longer will allow you to edit one type of webpart after you install SP3, and the SQL 2005 disaster continues, Post SP2 rollup version 6 and counting.
Can't MS ever fix anything without breaking other things? Ever heard of full regression testing?
Posted by savagesteve13 (104 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It was intentional
This isn't a bug, it is a "feature".

And no, they do not know how to test.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
office 2003 sp3
i think the change in sp3 is rediculous. i tried the microsoft support article suggestion to make office 2003 read old file formats, but it doesnt seem to work. i can accept office 2007 not reading older formats, but if i retain 2003 version i must have a good reason. i have no time to convert my 10-20 year old documents to new formats, and i see absolutely no security problems with these documents. i hate it when microsoft push their oversensitive agenda across to cause so much hazzles to us.
Posted by lennyli (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
LOL at you,
yep, you got a 20y/o doc with no time to convert it. I think you need help. And yes, MS does this only to "hazzle" people that keep files in their 20 y/o format. And why not, if the rest of the world knew people like that were out there, we would have joined in the fun too. Dang MS, turns out they are fun hogs too.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
How about blocking Outlook?
Talk about a program and format that need to be blocked for security reasons. Outlook. (or Windows)

Having spent many years supporting MS products, well, I just keep shaking my head. As to the poster who dumps documents after 5 years... what, you work at MS corporate or something?
Posted by billagain (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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