If you haven't noticed this problem yet, it will probably affect you when a church volunteer sends you a Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document created with the latest version of Microsoft Office for Windows -- Office 2007.
The new file formats are not compatible with Office 2003 or earlier versions of Microsoft Office (more to follow on this).
These formats are also not compatible with the current version of Microsoft Office for Mac OS X or the current OpenOffice or NeoOffice programs (more to follow on this).
Here's the details on the new file format from Wikipedia:
"Microsoft Office uses a new file format, called Office OpenXML, as the default file format. It is based on XML and uses the ZIP file container. According to Microsoft, documents created in this format are up to 75% smaller than the same documents saved with previous Microsoft Office file formats, owing to data compression.If you're using Microsoft Office 2003, Office 2002, or Office 2000; your best option is to download the "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats."
Word documents without macro extensions are now saved using a .docx extension rather than the traditional .doc extension. Files containing macros are saved with the extension .docm. You can save your 2007 Word documents in the old format so that they will still be usable in previous versions of Word. If not, you will have to download a free converter from Microsoft for older versions of Word to be able to open documents created in the new format."
According to Wikipedia, the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac OS X (Office 2008) will be file-compatible with the Windows Office 2007 version and should be available in the second half 0f 2007. I cannot find any information on the requirements for Office 2008.
Microsoft has released a beta version of the XML filter for Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac OS X. This filter only converts Office 2007 Word documents (.docx, .docm). Here are the requirements for this conversion filter:
- Microsoft Office 2004 11.3.4 or later
- Office v. X 10.1.9 or later
- Mac OS X 10.4.8 (Tiger) or a later version of Mac OS
If you're using Microsoft Office 2003/2002/2000, you should install Microsoft's compatibility filter.
If you're a Mac OS X user who is using OS X 10.4.8 or later and Microsoft Office, you can install the Microsoft Word compatibility filter for using Office 2007 word documents. You will still need to have the people you work with save their Excel and PowerPoint documents in the older formats (Excel .xls and PowerPoint .ppt).
If you're an OpenOffice user on any platform or using a Mac OS X version 10.4.7 or earlier, you will need to ask the person who sent you the Office 2007 document to save the document in the earlier Microsoft Office formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt).
If this file format issue seems confusing, you can thank Microsoft for creating this confusion for you, your congregation, and everyone else.