Software

Office 2003 formats no longer supported by Google Apps

Poll: Is the fact that Office 2003 formats are no longer supported by Google Apps a big deal?

On October 1, 2012, Google Apps will no longer have the ability to export Google Docs format files in Office 1997-2003 formats. The announcement doesn't specify it, but apparently users will still be able to export Google Docs format files to Microsoft Office formats associated with Office 2007, 2010, and 2013.

Is this a significant development?

I am not sure how significant this will be to businesses. I am sure there are still a substantial number of businesses using Office 2003, but I am uncertain how many spend a great deal of time moving documents from Google Apps to Office and then back again.

I can see this being a minor annoyance requiring some changes in procedures for some, but I cannot see how this could be a major problem for most businesses. But then again, I have been wrong more than once today, so perhaps we should ask TechRepublic members what they think.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

53 comments
brian
brian

Expecting bidirectional interoperability between very old, EOL formats, and very new cutting-edge technology does not make sense. Making a decision to avoid migrating to a format that is obviously replacing an older format, for nearly a decade, should have been a decision with easily foreseeable future consequences. The future consequence is you may finally have to install the '.docx' import plugin for those ancient copies of Office 2003. Take it as an opportunity to make a PowerPoint about how much money was saved by installing the free import plugin, vs. cost of new licenses. Alternative: continue doing business as you have been, ignoring new technologies as you have been doing. Full interoperability between cloud tech and old, replaced file formats is not a safe thing to assume will happen. If lack of full, native, bidirectional interoperability between legacy 'doc' / 'xls' formats is having enough of an impact on anyone's business that it's "a very big deal", someone is doing something wrong.

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

I've been using MS Word since the early DOS days (was never able to remember the 40+ key combinations of WP!). Vista has given me more than my share of problems with Word XP. Only "suggestion" each time Word crashes: get something newer ;-( I need this version (or 2003) for professional reasons. Besides, an extensive user on a daily basis, I keep discovering features I was unaware of (recently a way to clean up styles by quantities: useful if someone opened your file in OOo or Libre Office and at any time you want to clean up some of the ballast present in your file - WP did shine in that respect). Furthermore there are very few so called "new" features that are useful to me in Word 2010. On the contrary, the dawn Ribbon thing slows me down when working (just one basic example : 4 clicks through several menus to open a "new" document, while, on the "older" version, one just had to click a little icon which was always in sight ). I did consider Google Docs, but this ends it...

inertman
inertman

i dont know anyone who uses google docs. this will simply mean that fewer ever will until the older office suites are totally out of sync w/ the rest of the world.

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

So... It just occurred to me... Doesn't Microsoft Office Online support the old doc format just fine? I know I upload Office 97 Word documents all the time to my SkyDrive and they open just fine in the online viewer/editor provided with Skydrive. Does this signal an exodus from Google Docs to Microsoft's solution?

dutch2005nl
dutch2005nl

it should not be a problem, since there is always still the office 2007 compability package's plus for instance docx files are mostly smaller in size then their .doc counterparts....

acer516
acer516

I don't like the term Libre Office what is this program one that can be monitored by our fraud government

lsangree
lsangree

We tried to stay current and upgraded everybody to Office 2007 several years back. Too late we discovered Microsoft made a major change in the way it handles links/link updating between versions. MS engineers have confirmed this was a deliberate change. The Microsoft suggested workaround is just to save all our documents in the Office 2003 format. We lose some feature functionality, but less than if we lost our link functionality when we copy/move documents to new folders. We could buy LinkFixer and run it all the time on files in the new format, but that seems to be an unnecessary expense for now. When 2003 is no longer supported....

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

When the idiots removed the chart wizards from Excel. I don't need the wizard, but I know dozens of people who aren't experts who use the wizards all the time.

mckinnej
mckinnej

This move has eliminated any (admittedly slim) chance Google had at making inroads into my organization. Our document archive is filled with thousands of old .doc, .xls, .ppt, etc. files. Obviously no one has the resources to go through and convert something like that. Any product that does not support them will not even make the first list of candidates. That's just at work. Most of my files at home are in the old formats too, so this means I can't use Google Docs there either. Hmmm...the more I think about it, the dumber this move sounds.

n2iph
n2iph

As the poll shows 40% of respondants are still using Office 2003. There must be a reason. Else why would 40% be hangin on to 10 year old software. Maybe its the crappy UI that came with 2007 and continued in 2010. I know that's why I have not upgraded my home computers. At work (5000+ seats) we are still using Office 2003, IT is slow to adopt new versions of anything. Acrobat Reader 9 is still our offical PDF viewer distributed as part of new desktop machine configurations. Heck we are doing desktop refreshes with XP Pro in place of the current version of Windows.

Jono.W
Jono.W

I run PCs for my SOHO (2 x freelancers). Still on XP with Office 2000. Works for us, why change? Find myself increasingly using Open Office (opens docx emailed to us) & will probably migrate to Linux when change is forced on us. Whilst we aren't "the enterprise", small businesses are a not insignificant sector. And Google Apps is relevant to us.

dennis.m.jackson
dennis.m.jackson

Although we use the latest Office version internally, we still use the Office 97 - 2003 doc formats to transfer files to external organizations and provide read/edit/write accessibility to mobile devices that are running Office-compatible applications. By far, the large number of Office-compatible applications being used by people every day DO NOT have Office 2007 - 2010 support that is well-implemented. While, in an ideal world, all Office-compatible products would instantly support new Microsoft Office formats when Microsoft releases them in a product, in the real world, it's just not so.

Mad Mole
Mad Mole

Stops me having to worry about Google being involved in my future considerations. In manufacturing there's precious little IT resource and especially in fixing things that "ain't broke". We've nigh-on 200k xls docs covering all manner of the hundreds of parts we make and business processes we run. The MS converters are useless for half of those as they fail to handle the significant changes in text boxes and multiple cell formats between xls and xlsx. While we are shifting from an Office 2k base to 2010 there's no way to justify installing 2010 on half of the PC fleet as it 7+ yrs old. Oh and while they work ... well you can guess the rest. I can understand Google's decision but they've pulled the trigger too soon for us. Of course I suspect they had too. Office 2013 is coming fast and they need to build market share while 2010 and 365 are in their current state. With Win8 MS look to be considerably more focused than they have in years and there's no reason to suspect they'll anything other for their productivity suite. Google needs make hay fast.

Atharton_CB
Atharton_CB

I always thought this would happen. With the growing user base its for sure that these firms does not want their users to keep shifting from one tool to other. But the best part about spreadsheet usage is that, the number of options available today. Be it with new one such as GRID and COLLATEBOX or even the previous ones such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice. It just gives users to make the choice of their own.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

This is just like when support for '95 - '98 ceased, it happens.......there's just too much "future" to look forward to.....to be concerned about the "past". I mean do we use those ginormous floppy disk things they used in the '70's?...NO....because progress dictates that technology must evolve and move FORWARD! The same could be said for HDD......when they first arrived a 10GB hard drive was considered HUGE....at the time....but compared to the 1TB hard drives we have today it's worthless......and the list goes on & on.....CD's are eventually going to go the way of floppy disks...(remember the "A" drive?...LoL!) Pretty soon all media will come on some sort of Flash/drive device......the only thing that MIGHT remain for a little wile longer is DVD's...as some .iso files are larger than the 750MB / 800MB size of standard CD's.....eventually even "spinning" drives will die off.....as SSD drives which are faster....have NO moving parts.....can absorb shock better and have a very small chance of failing are coming up...there's a lot to be said for a company "dropping" off support for a Microsoft product, this just shows how dedicated Google is in embracing the future.....at least.....that's MY $0.02 on the matter!

Gisabun
Gisabun

Just love how Google decides to drop these little bombshells on people with little warning. With other companies they will give 6 months, a year or so. Microsoft tells you up front. It is on their web site. Google, on the other hand, seems to invent policies. I know plenty of people and companies still using Office 2003. They can't wait under a couple of years? They already have the code included in Docs? So why the cut off? I wonder how many know that Google is dropping support for IE8 for their web based apps within the next month or so. Win XP users [and there are many] are still using it. I suspect this is another ploy by Google to increase Chrome usage. Think of it. Using Gmail [for example] and IE8? Switch over to Google Chrome.

gwservices
gwservices

We use Office 2003 with the file converson software furnished from Microsoft. It works with 2007 and 2010 files.

info
info

Dear Mr Kaelin, you should have asked for Office 2000 or later to obtain a more realistic result. In my experience, only very few folks still use Office 1997 or Office 1995 and they are not the kind of customers going for Google apps. Most business relations I am working with do not consider to abandon their running Office systems once Microsoft comes up with new versions. None of them is anything but happy if new hardware comes with new software forcing them to work with newer Microsoft stuff - they consider the three year cycle for new Office versions as some kind of strange rip-off solely for the benefit of the software industry and act accordingly. For Office versions from before 2007, Microsoft has published a conversion tool allowing to use more modern file versions and will seriously damage its own business when giving up downward compatibility for its products. Nobody interested in a sensible market share will nowadays impose on customers what happened when IBM shelved its proprietary word processor more than 20 years ago forcing customers to convert their then rather small electronic archives to a format the replacing software would support. I have strange experiences with MS Word files with word processors they were not mad with in the first place - in particular when several people where editing them before they came to me. We therefore have a policy not to use Office formats for files sent to third parties for further processing, but to use RTF instead. Up until today, that has never caused any problems regardless of the word processor in use and if RTF eventually does not support a specific Word feature, this is not the end of the world and can be dealt with in another way.

bd1235
bd1235

People using MS Office 2003 should have been using the compatibility addon / upgrade since at least since 2008. This would give them the ability to inter-operate with the newer Office file formats. They have the chance to keep up with newer versions of Office and should do so. MS made this addon available for free. If people are left behind it is of their own ignorance or choice.

DittoHeadStL
DittoHeadStL

The enterprise does stay reasonably caught up with Office releases. However, at home, I think this would be a much bigger deal. Those who aren't technophiles will tend to keep any given platform/product running without upgrades as long as it gets the job done. Then when it comes time to share a file with friends & family, it's Google Apps to the rescue as the go-between. So the Word-Google-Open Office linkage that has been working great for sharing the PTA meeting minutes is going down the tubes. Drat!

ronbeyer67
ronbeyer67

Your Poll for which version of Office we are using should have either been check boxes or asking for percentages for each version. Since 2003 I have not worked for a single organization that is strickly on one version of Microsoft Office.

tbostwick
tbostwick

This is simply a ploy to slowly force you to use either the latest (bloated) version of Office or Google Docs, and off of perfectly fine, no issues, always runs that I need it to - versions. We will be soon crossing a point where Google will require payment for things such as Gmail, Docs, Calendar and other pieces we've take for granted so far in the "free world". Others will see it as a non-issue, but somewhere down the road - it makes moving and sharing docs online just that less easier, and will require "support" for some to figure things out.

kpdriscoll
kpdriscoll

I think they are forcing the issue figuring that folks like me who figured 2003 versions ain't broke. We dabble with Google Docs as opposed to jumping to Office 2007 or 2010. Now they're forcing me to decide cloud or local.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Though I don't understand why you would ever remove support from something, if the code is already there, leave it.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

no longer natively supports the use of Office 97 or before documents and it won't be that long before they do the same for Office 2003.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What do you think, is this change a big deal for your organization? Do you have users that depend on both Google Apps and Office 2003 or older versions of Office?

lsangree
lsangree

Just take the top 35 things you do and put the icon for each of them in your Quick Access Toolbar. I rarely need to even go into the ribbon or even the Office Button. It is still 2 clicks for a new doc but that's 50% better than 4!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

MS Office 2003 working for you: 1. Install Zorin OS Linux and run MSO 2003 in WINE. http://zorin-os.com/ 2. Install React OS and check out how MSO 2003 runs for you. The people at React are creating an OS that works EXACTLY like Win XP but much more stable. http://www.reactos.org/en/index.html Keep in mind that Microsoft is now trying to push everyone over to their Cloud version of MSO.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

they sold it to Oracle the new owners wanted to take it off in a direction that made it a lot more dependent upon various Oracle products. The open source community that had been working on Open Office for many years did not like this. When discussion about this with Oracle broke down the majority of the people involved walked away from Oracle and Open Office and started a fork of Open Office and they called in Libre Office, Libre as in free. This has now progress well past Open Office as the better people are working on it. They've also reduced the dependency on Java that Sun had been introducing into Open Office. Today, Libre Office is far superior to Open Office and also much better than Microsoft Office. The only problem you may have is if you have a LOT of VBA macros, I've not tried Libre Office with VBA macros, so I don't know how it will go.

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Believe me, for a seasoned user, 2007 and/or 2010 are in no way the "future" of Word. I will only admit that the damned ribbon can be useful for the computer illiterate newborn...

Jono.W
Jono.W

FWIW, apparently floppies are alive & well: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8646699.stm Solid state drives are clearly better, but the tech world is too focussed on the next thing & forgets about the real people who actually use the stuff to earn their crust. My two pennorth...

dogknees
dogknees

My sentiments exactly. The same people that said they would never move to Windows XP now say it's the best version ever and won't move to Windows 7. The same people that hated Office 2003 now love it and won't move. How about those that did this explain where they went wrong before making the same statements this time around. Goes for journalists as well, can those that said no one would move to Windows XP please explain the reasons for their error before making more statements of this kind. Perhaps we need a hit-list or all those that predict these things so we can check back next time they make predictions and ignore them.

dogknees
dogknees

... isn't saying it won't work, just that they won't help you if it doesn't. Same with support fr Windows or Office. The apps still work, but they don't get patched.

Ptorq
Ptorq

Why is this even an issue? Microsoft has a (free as in beer) patch for older versions that lets them read and write the new .tlax files in addition to their native .tla files. Unless I'm misunderstanding something, this is only a problem for people who a) are using software that is over 5 years old and b) haven't bothered to patch it in the meantime, so it's hard to feel a whole lot of sympathy.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

has a look and feel very much like MS Office 2003 while it works perfectly on all versions of MS Windows and also on Linux.

hometoy
hometoy

As Google keeps updating their applications it is just extra work to make sure it can export in 97-2003 format when the 2007+ version uses XML and is the new (and more stable) standard. This may free Google up to putting more into their product? One can hope! :)

Gisabun
Gisabun

They haven't supported Office 97 in 5 years, Office 2000 in 2 years. Office 2003 is still supported until April 2014.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Many location (including mine) are using multiple versions of Office. Whlle 2010 is our standard, I've upgraded only about 40% of my systems. We aren't pushing it yet; it's on new or re-imaged installations.

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Come on man. As far as I am concerned I never had a grudge against XP: I eagerly embraced it... after SP2. And I always loved Office XP/2003, the more I was able to exploit the plethora of features. As Vista trashed my perfectly able desktop HD (6550 CRC errors!) with a few perfectly aimed BSD's, I have to use my portable with 2010. Believe me, I can feel the difference ;-(

info
info

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that, as I have experienced myself on several occasion. The Opens Source stuff is not ok if you are confronted with MSO files full of specific features not used everyday by everybody, although it is still making good progress in such matters..

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

If you want the real look and feel of Word XP-2003, you should give the free KingSoft Office a try. It really looks like a perfect twin (some little details missing in a few submenu's. This little Chinaman offers almost perfect compatibility with .doc files (Libre and OOo do this only to an extent), stylesheets are perfectly taken care of (only are the styles not alphabetically sorted, I wonder why). And if you really want a ribbon (which I did not test), well they have one too and you can just toggle between those "skins". I was also even able to rescue some files Vista trashed (see my other comment under" again!", but here Libre and OOo, besides partly trashing my stylesheets can recover more files...). My only problem is that my professional contacts, over here, are not fluent enough in English to use it and, personally, I can't do without French and Dutch spellcheckers. KingsOffice doesn't have them. Otherwise I would even consider their Pro version, not because it has so many more to offer, but because I believe a good job deserves a reward!

sperry532
sperry532

But if you work in a larger office, say a law firm, where there's tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars tied up in various specialized programs designed to work with MS Office, and not with Libre Office... well, then you've got an entirely different can of worms.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

open, read, and close documents created in the older products. Use MS Office 2003 to open a Word 2a file and the file gets trashed, use Office 2010 to open a document created in Office 97 and the file gets trashed. Yes, you can get some add-in files that will help you to update the files to the latest version of MS Office format, but it always changes the created and changed dates and thus nullifies the legal status of the files.

rhonin
rhonin

Same here - we are a mix of Google, 2010, and 2007. But, we have many suppliers, contractors, etc, that are still on 2003. We can recommend they plate but cannot force the issue. We do have a program underway to migrate to PDF. This will mean our Goog users will have to swap to 2010.

mckinnej
mckinnej

I put the version I'm using, but I have co-workers with both older and newer versions.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Macro making capability. Nor have I tried a pivot table in it. But it does handle links OK. My main use is the creation of books and print ready PDF files and LO is superior to MS Word in doing those. I suggest you might find it worth the effort to download a copy and try out your Macros etc.

rhonin
rhonin

Pivot tables, embedded, hot links, static and dynamic links, macros, ..... Database? Hope you aren't saying ...... Access.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I'd like to know so i can check them out and how likely people are to use them. And yes, I do know that Excel is better than Calc is overall, but Calc still does what most people do in Excel before they move to a database.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

with all MS Word .doc files as part of the basic native install. However, MS Office stylesheets are another matter as MS have some odd style format codes and they also change them, so I can see where they may need fixing. Libre Office does have French and Dutch versions, and I know they have a Dutch dictionary and a French one available as a download too.

rhonin
rhonin

With our Engineering and Finance departments. Moving from MSOffice would require redoing a lot of custom work. This is something I doubt LO could handle. That makes it a no go.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

of that are so heavily integrated with MS Office? I know of many that use the MS Office produced files, but Libre Office can put them out in the MS Office formats. Also, Microsoft have changed the way MS Office works several times, so any program that's fully integrated into one version of MSO will often not work properly with a later version, so you get a major problem there.