Make the Change NOW to the new version of Microsoft Office

November 12, 2008
When Microsoft released Office 2007 nearly two years ago, they not only transformed the look of the software and added many new features, but also introduced an entirely new XML-based (Extensible Markup Language) file format. As a result, the file extensions changed from .doc to .docx for Word documents, .xls to .xlsx for Excel documents and .ppt to .pptx for PowerPoint files.

To avoid confusion when Office 2007 was deployed, ITS established a network policy that forced the new software to save files in "compatibility mode" so that users of Office 2003 (or Office 2004 for Macintosh) could easily open files created by the new version of Office. Since our initial deployment, however, many things have changed. Nearly 50% of Windows clients on campus are using Office 2007. Office 2008 for Macintosh was released and is completely compatible with Office 2007's new file format. In addition, Microsoft distributed conversion software to allow files in Office 2003 for Windows and Office 2004 for Macintosh to open Office 2007 documents.

For these reasons, ITS will remove the network policy that forces Office 2007 to save files in compatibility mode beginning January 5, 2009. Once the policy is removed, Office 2007 will save all documents in the new XML-based file format. Clients who are more comfortable operating in compatibility mode can change the Office 2007 file format default on an individual basis. If you are using Office 2003 for Windows or Office 2004 for Macintosh, you should install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack so that you can open XML-based Office files that may be sent to you.

To avoid confusion, we suggest you switch to Office 2007 for Windows or Office 2008 for Macintosh by the end of the year. It is important that we all make the transition to the new version of Microsoft Office. All newly purchased computers will be delivered with the new version installed. If you have an older computer that will not run the new version, remember to download the Microsoft Compatibility Pack.

Please feel free to contact the Help Desk at 4357 if you have any questions. To find out more about the XML-based file format or to download the Microsoft Compatibility Pack for Windows or Macintosh use the following links:

Information on Office 2007's XML-based file format:

Microsoft Compatibility Pack for Office 2003:

Microsoft Open XML File Format Converter for Macintosh
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