Mac Office compatibility: When 'no comment' just isn't good enough

Summary:Reports are cropping up all over that Office 2004 for Mac users cannot exchange documents created with the new Microsoft Office 2007 suite for Windows, due to file-format incompatibilities. Microsoft is continuing to decline to comment on when it plans to fix the problem.

Reports are cropping up all over that users of older versions of Microsoft's Office for Mac suite cannot exchange documents created with the new Microsoft Office 2007 suite for Windows, due to file-format incompatibilities.

The Mac Business Unit has promised that it will provide converters -- that sound similar to the compatibility pack that Microsoft already has made available for Office 2003 users, enabling them to read documents in the new Office 2007 file formats. But, the Mac BU folks are declining to provide any kind of information on when these converters will arrive.

(Update: Microsoft released its converter timetable at the end of day on December 5. The Office for Mac file-format converters will be released in late March/early April 2007, according to the company.)

APC Magazine quotes a Microsoft Mac BU spokeswoman as saying "Unfortunately it is still to early for us to say when the converters will be available."

Sometimes, a no comment is just not acceptable. In my opinion, this is one of those times.

Microsoft made the Office 2007 bits available to business customers on November 30. That means, as of last week, there is a subset of Microsoft customers who are creating, saving and sharing documents using the new "Open XML" file formats that are now the default in Office 2007.

I put in a query to the Office for Windows team to see if they might be a little more forthcoming regarding the Mac-Office converter timing. That team sent my request back to the Mac BU PR team.

There also is no new information on the Microsoft Mac BU blog on Microsoft's plans to remedy the situation.

One thing we do know: Microsoft has said it expects to ship the next version of Mac Office six to eight months after Office 2007. Based on how Microsoft is counting, that could mean any time starting in May 2007. Hopefully, Mac Office users won't have to wait until then for the promised file converters.

Topics: Microsoft


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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