Use the Open XML formats today with Office XP & Office 2003

A coworker of mine, just reminded me that for those folks interested in using the new Open XML formats but don't want to upgrade to Office 2007 Beta 2, we also released a public preview of the compatibility packs (thanks Jon!).

This is one of the other really important points I've tried to get across over the past year. These new formats aren't just for people who have Office 2007. You don't need to upgrade in order to use them. You can use these compatibility packs with your existing copies of Office, and you'll be able to read and write the Open XML formats.


Comments (15)
  1. Mike says:

    You did say the converters would be made available for Office 2000, XP and 2003. Doing that you already left in the dust the millions upon millions of Office 97 users.

    Now, there is no mention of Office 2000 in the webpage above. It says Office XP and Office 2003 are required. Care to clarify for us? Sounds like you were lying.

  2. BrianJones says:

    Hey Mike, nothing has changed there.

    We’re still definitely going to provide compatibility for the Office 2000 users, and that will be made available when we release the Office 2007 products.

    The Beta 2 compatibility pack does not support Office 2000, but as I said we do plan to eventually provide that functionality as well.

    Sorry for any confusion.


  3. orcmid says:

    Great, just great.  Like my life is not full with the possibilities of test-driving the Office 2007 beta2 bits, now you let me play with Office Open XML formats right away. Keep this up and I’ll have to be installing the WinFX bits and kit too.  And it’s only Wednesday!

    I am delighted to see this.  It gives the EMCA TC45 draft work tangible meaning and  presence.  Congratulations, you sly devil!

    I’ll give a bigger hooray after I’ve gone into admin, installed the compatibility pack, and seen it run.

  4. Molly C says:


    Your post is yet another example of how the internet makes people brave enough to make accusations (i.e. "lying") that they wouldn’t have the guts to make in person.

  5. Mike says:

    Molly C,

    I am fact-checking him.

  6. BrianJones says:

    Mike, I do agree with Molly that the wording of your original post was a bit aggressive. Simply asking for clarification rather than the "Sounds like you were lying" statement probably would have been better. No big deal though, I’m over it. 🙂


  7. Mike says:

    I’m sorry if that’s the case. The seemingly unfulfilled promise (of a converter supporting Office 2000/XP/2003) made me jump over it. The download page could have avoided it altogether. Now that it’s clarified, let’s move on.

  8. orcmid says:

    HOORAY (as promised).

    What I like about the integration of these formats is that if you open a document in these formats, it becomes the default for saving the document (as is done with some other formats too).

    I noticed the decrease in performance when switching a small Excel spreadsheets to the format.  I figure the Compatibility Pack bits are mostly of interest to people who want to test the formats at this point, and that will be great.

    Not expecting it to work, late last night I instructed Word to Open the 4000-page TC45 working draft 1.3 .docx version.  Heh.  I went to bed with the converter still running at 49% in task manager (I think my hyperthreader is responsible for it not being 99%).  The amount of memory it required was slowly increasing every second.  Word must have died some time after 6:30 am but it had managed to create an Autorecovery file at about that time.  Word wedges on re-opening the 2.2MB autorecovery though I see the title page and that I am at page 1/130.

    I figure this is too course of an experiment to report (I need to figure out where to do that though), but I figure not bad for the first beta of these bits.

  9. orcmid says:

    Oh, can we use the little yay-nay system-tray emoticons to comment about our experience with the Compatibility Pack too?

  10. BrianJones says:

    I can imagine your experience with the Ecma spec would have resulted in a frown… 🙂

    I actually don’t think that the SAS (send a smile) works with the compat packs. I think it’s only for the actual Office 2007 client. I’ll check though.


  11. orcmid says:

    Nah, no frowns.  I figured for beta 2 (really beta 1 for these?) you need function first, performance second.  I recalled that you weren’t all that certain about opening the spec. in Office 2007 beta 2 itself, so I wasn’t expecting too much.  This is about as daring as I get though.  (Well, I’ve got an estimated 7 hours to go on a download of the Vista bits DVD image, but I will take my time figuring out when and on what to install them.)

    I noticed some little things about the Compatibility Pack that I wanted to report is all.

  12. Bob F says:

    Brian, do you know if an Open XML converter will be provided for WordPad users?  WordPad has always been able to handle simple Word docs in the past and it would be nice to see that continue, especially since Open XML is the format Microsoft wants everyone to start using.  If a WordPad Open XML converter will be provided will it handle opening and saving, or just opening?  Thanks!

  13. Brian, that is great news! Am I glad I was just testing Outlook 2007’s feed reader on your blog :-).

    What about availability? If an ISV develops his software/service to generate Open XML documents, when would customers with Office 2000, XP or 2003 be able to open the documents (especially Excel and Word). Is there a different timeline for these three versions?

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