Get the Office 2007 Compatibity Pack

With the right preparation the Office 2007 compatibility pack works well.

Last week we expressed some concerns about the Office 2007 compatibility pack which didn’t appear to work properly for Excel or PowerPoint documents. We’re delighted to say the problems are solved and we’re happy to recommend the pack to all Office users.

The compatibility pack lets users of Office 2003, Office XP and Office 2000 read and write to the new XML document formats used by default in Office 2007.

Understandably, Microsoft contacted us to investigate the problem.

We’re obliged to Simon Jones from PC Pro magazine in the UK who gave us the clue, later confirmed by Microsoft support.

In the requirements for the Compatibility Pack it says:

please install all High-Priority updates from Microsoft Update before downloading the Compatibility Pack

That’s a fairly standard wording but in this case Microsoft really means it.

As we’ve discovered, unless you have a fully up to date version of Office with all the service packs and security packs to date – the Compatibility Pack may not work fully. In our tests it worked for Word but not Excel or Powerpoint, add the Office patches (however minor and irrelevant they might seem) and all is well.

So update your copy of Office with service packs and security updates then install the Compatibility Pack from here.

Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, at some time you’ll probably get an Office 2007 document (.docx, .xlsx or .pptx etc). Better to be prepared.

Microsoft also reminds us that, in rare cases, documents created with Office 2007 betas might not be read by the compatibility pack. The document formats for Office 2007 were being tweaked all through the beta so it’s possible that some change or bug in the beta software will render a document unreadable. While that’s possible, our tests of beta-created Office 2007 files (even from beta 1) haven’t struck any problems, so don’t be too concerned.