Saturday, January 26, 2008

tt4t_022 Word processing file types, can we all get along?

It’s Saturday, January 26, 2008 and welcome to Episode 22 of Tech Talk 4 Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. It has been a little over a year now since Microsoft Office 2007 was released and we are beginning to see more and more files created in the Office 2007 format. The problem is that most of the world is still running on Office 2003 or older versions of Microsoft Office and there are compatibility problems between the new program versions and the older ones. This is true anytime that there is a major update in a software program. Today I will share some basic tips on how to handle this situation if you find yourself in it. First of all this is nothing new, if you use Word Perfect you know that others may have trouble opening files you created in the Word Perfect format unless the other users that you share files with also have Word Perfect. The same is true for the Microsoft Works program that often come preinstalled on many new computers. Files created natively in Word Perfect and Microsoft Works cannot be opened using Microsoft Word.






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This is a problem if you type an assignment on your home computer that uses Microsoft Works and then save it to a flash drive to bring to school where we use Microsoft Word. The simplest solution is to buy Microsoft Word so that you will be compatible between home and school, but that costs money, something that students are often in short supply of. Here is an alternative that will work whether you are using Word Perfect, Microsoft Works, or any other word processor program format that Microsoft Word will not open. When you go to save your word processing file in your word processor of choice use the Save As command and in the box below the filename that displays the file type select the pull down menu and select the rtf option. RTF stands for rich text format and is a format that has been around for years and will save your word processing file in a generic format the other word processing programs can understand. Rich Text Format also saves all of the formatting that you may have used such as bolds, underlines, centers, and font choices. This is not always 100% accurate in that some advanced features like table layouts and headers and footers may not save properly in this generic format but it will at least let you be able to open your work from one word processing program to another.

Here is another problem that we are running into more and more now that many students with new computers are saving documents in the Office 2007 format and then trying to open the files at school using Office 2003. You could use the same rtf file saving method formerly described but there is a better solution. Microsoft has created a free Office Compatibility Pack that allows users of Office 2003 to open Office 2007 documents. This compatibility pack is loaded on all the computers in the ITC so if you are an Office 2007 users at home you will be able to bring your Office 2007 documents and open and edit them using Office 2003 at the ITC. There are still some potential problems that you may find because there are some features in Office 2007 that Office 2003 does not support because of differences between the new and older versions. Think of it this way, when color television came along it was a major upgrade to the older black & white televisions that preceded it. If you bought a new color TV back in the day you could still watch black & white movies on your new TV set but you could not watch color television on your black & white set. There is the problem, when new features are added you can maintain backward compatibility but by the very nature of the upgrade the older product cannot support the new advances. If you think about the new version of Office 2007 the same logic applies. You can open Office 2003 documents in Office 2007 (backward compatible) but you cannot open Office 2007 documents in Office 2003. That is unless you know about the Office 2007 compatibility pack.


Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week

My Technology pick of the week this week is the Microsoft Office 2007 Compatibility Pack that offers a stop gap measure if you find yourself having to open Office 2007 documents from friends or co-workers but you have not yet upgraded your Office 2003 programs to Office 2007. A link is provided in the show notes for the download of the compatibility pack. If a friend or co-worker shares a file with you in Office 2007 format you will be able to open it in Office 2003 if you download and install this compatibility pack. This does not support all the features in Office 2007 but it does allow users of older versions to open and edit documents using features that are common to both versions.

Microsoft Office 2007 Compatibility Pack
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

Of course the easiest way to deal with file incompatibility is to make sure that you are using the same version of the software that others you share files with use and then you would not need to worry at all about any work arounds. Checkout Episode 3 of TechTalk4Teachers for a link to a special promotion for students to purchase Office 2007 at a substantially reduced cost.

Show notes for this weeks show are available on the web at techtalk4teachers.blogspot.com that’s techtalk the number 4 teachers.blogspot.com That wraps it up for this episode 21 of TechTalk4Teachers so until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

1 comment:

OfficeRocker said...

also the FCP is going out on Office sp3 automatic download on Microsoft Update so if you are recieving patches automatically you will get this from Feb 27th. this should ease the issue of Office 2003 pcs opening 2007 docs.
cheers,
Darren