Vista Aside: The HORROR… Of Microsoft Word 2007

November 5, 2007

Not XMLI know you are eagerly awaiting the next part in my series on Vista, but I simply had to take a moment and warn you about Office 2007, and more importantly, Word 2007.

Microsoft releases a new version of its office suite roughly every few years and Office 2007 has quite a few major changes. With a layout influenced by the glassy look of Vista, the total lack of drop-down context menus and a new ‘ribbon’ interface, all of the Microsoft Office programs have gone under the knife for the programming equivalent of Botox. However, like Botox, there are a few unwelcome side affects. Like, say, not being able to open a saved 2007 Word file in anything other than Word 2007.

Microsoft, in its dedication to open source programming, has began using an XML format as the default way it saves its Word documents. XML (according to computer book publisher O’Reilly) is:

XML is a markup language for documents containing structured information.

Structured information contains both content (words, pictures, etc.) and some indication of what role that content plays (for example, content in a section heading has a different meaning from content in a footnote, which means something different than content in a figure caption or content in a database table, etc.). Almost all documents have some structure.

A markup language is a mechanism to identify structures in a document. The XML specification defines a standard way to add markup to documents.”

At first you would think this is a good idea, being that XML is a free standard and available to everyone, which is true. However, it is also true that unless you download some kind of converter, Word 2003, Word XP, Open Office, Wordperfect and all the other major word processing programs cannot open the XML based “.docx” file!

Now you can go into Word and change the default save format from the mysterious “.docx” to the standard “.doc”… its just that you’ve never had to do this before with a Microsoft Office program. You save a Word document, you have a Word “.doc” now. That’s just how it is supposed to be. Thankfully, we live in a world rich with opportunity, and there are multiple folks who have created converters to allow you to travel from the land of “.docx” back to the friendly shores of “.doc”:

This little exercise in frustration aside, Office 2007 is the newest suite of productivity tools on the block and I am genuinely curious if anyone else has an experience, good or bad, that they would like to share.



  1. Mac and P.C. users that do not own Microsoft Office, or users of earlier versions of Microsoft Office that are not covered by Microsoft compatibility pack, but still want to convert, open and use Word 2007 DOCX (and keep the contents, graphics and layout of the original docx document), or Excel 2007 XLSX files on their own computer and not email the files to be converted, can use docxconverter. See:

  2. This is exactly why productivity is dead. The programs are half-baked and half-broken. Just kidding…thanks for the info. Your tip about the docx converters made me look like a computer genius today.

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