Google Apps saves Microsoft Office formats from the chop - for now

Having said that Google Docs would no longer export to pre-2003 Office formats such as .doc after September, the web giant has extended support to January.

Google has given a reprieve to people who want to export Google Docs files to older Microsoft Office formats.

In September, the company said it would end support in Google Apps for .doc, .xls and .ppt on 1 October. But on Wednesday, Google moved the deadline to 31 January, 2013, after realising that some of its customers wanted more time.

"Surprised how many of you want to stay on Office 2003 and use Docs to interoperate. We are extending support for export .doc files till Jan to help this transition," Amit Singh, vice president of Google Enterprise, said in a post to Google+.

However, after January, Google will focus on supporting exports to Microsoft Office formats, which rely on open standards (.docx, xlsx, .pptx), the company said in a blog post.

The change of deadline only postpones the pain for Google Apps customers who need to share their documents with people who use pre-2003 Microsoft Office file formats. One workaround is for those recipients to download Microsoft's compatibility pack for Office, which lets them open documents created in newer versions of Word.