New Formats … Old Software

If you create word processing documents, spreadsheets or presentations, chances are you do so using the most popular office productivity suite on the planet — Microsoft Office. Whether or not Microsoft is able to maintain that dominance is a topic for another time, but if you use these tools in the process of completing your day-to-day work, it’s likely you’ll continue to do so into the near future.

Why do I bring this up? Well, just in case you weren’t already aware, Microsoft is getting ready to release a new version of Office, appropriately named, Office 2007. While the official release won’t occur until early 2007, many have been using alpha, beta and release candidate versions for many months. I, personally, have been testing releases for some time now and find that I really like the new interface, but there’s one problem … the default file formats are new and not compatible with previous versions of Office or anything else out on the market today.

The good news is you can easily save to other document formats, including earlier versions of Office documents, but you have to remember to go through this extra step. Since I use the pre-release version of Office 2007 on some PCs and the current release of Office 2003 on others, I was finding the incompatibility issue to be a bit of a pain. Thankfully Microsoft anticipated this little headache and has released the “Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats”, which is currently released as Beta 2 Technical Refresh. Even if you’re not using the new version of Office yourself, I would still recommend installing the Compatibility Pack so you won’t run into problems when your friends or colleagues send you documents in the new formats.

If you want to try out the new version of Office for yourself, cruise on over to The Microsoft Office Homepage and follow the links to download the latest release candidate.