Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Office 2007 File Formats

Let me start this off by saying I have used Office 2007 for Windows very little since it came out. The little I have used it has been a complete turn off. Leave it to Microsoft again to ruin what works. Office’s look and file formats have changed very little in the past 10 years, but it’s that time again, time to force everyone to upgrade. I don’t want this to turn into an Office 2007 hate rant, but the new interface stinks and forcing people to upgrade by changing the file format is wrong (yes, I know the new XML based format is supposed to add features, but seems like the old stuff worked well enough).

Anyway, I had the fun experience of troubleshooting a problem with a customer’s Outlook Express recently. For some reason, his spell check either did French or quit working altogether. After spending some time Googling the problem and trying different solutions which didn’t fix the problem, I came across a little gem about how Office 2007 breaks Outlook Express’ spell check, since OE relies on another application to provide its spell check capabilities. The solution was to reinstall the old spell check tool from a previous version of Office (Office 2003 in this case). That did the trick.

I asked my customer why he upgraded to begin with, and it was because a client was using Office 2007 and he could not read files that his client was sending him (you can, of course save files in Office 2007 in the previous formats, but of course this is not the default). Not long after, I came across the subject of this little blurb: Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats. According to the download page, by “installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007.” My take is enough people complained about this that Microsoft had to let people read and write the new format using older versions of Office. Therefore, unless you like the new look and feel of Office 2007, check out the Compatibility Pack instead.

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