SCS Computing
 Services and Solutions
  links to the SCS and CMU home pages Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science Carnegie Mellon University
 » How to… 
 » Accounts & passwords 
 » AFS 
 » AV help 
 » Backups & restores 
 » Calendaring 
 » E-mail 
 » Networking 
 » Printing 
 » Purchasing 
 » Resource management 
 » Security 
 » Software licensing 
 » Support charges 
 » Support lifecycle 
 » Web publishing 
 » Mac support 
 » Linux support 
 » Windows PC support 

Office 2007 — Version compatibility issues and workarounds

Office 2007 introduces significant changes in file-level data representation, and these, in turn, can lead to version-related conflicts. Microsoft's "Compatibility Pack" for Office 2007 file formats allows users of previous versions to open, edit some items in, and save Office 2007 documents.

Office 2003 and XP are "aware" of the 2007 formats. When their users open an Office 2007 document, the application will prompt them to download and install the Compatibility Pack and will direct them to Microsoft's Website. SCS Facilities encourages users to upgrade to Office 2007 at earliest convenience and recommends considering the Compatibility Pack a "last resort."

Potential compatibility problems arise when a 2007 document incorporates new Office features. If a user opens then saves the 2007 file in a previous Office version, the new features will be lost. The workaround is to have the document's originator use the "Save as" function to write the file in a compatible format. Office 2007 will warn of any functionality that will be lost and give the user a choice of how to proceed.

Thus, users of older Office applications should either request that the creator of Office 2007 documents convert them to Office 97-2003 formats or, better yet, install Office 2007.

For the Office versions covered, the Compatibility Pack supports the following behaviors:

  • Office 2003 SP1 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) — open, edit, save, create
  • Office XP SP3 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) — open, edit, save, create
  • Office 2000 SP3 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) — convert only. This version is "odd man out" in several ways, and its users will notice different behavior.

SCS Facilities will not distribute the Compatibility Pack locally. Users can obtain it from the first link below. We will, however, distribute Microsoft updates for security issues related to the Compatibility Pack (there have been several since release).

To install the Compatibility Pack and for more details on document element differences, see Microsoft's Website: