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Taking Control of Your Documents

Mar 25, 2009, 14:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Rob Weir)

"Step 1: Take control of the default format
The older versions of Microsoft Office, Office 97-Office 2003), by default save documents in a family of binary formats with the extensions DOC (Word), XLS (Excel) and PPT (PowerPoint). Although these formats are proprietary Microsoft formats, over the past decade 3rd party applications have developed the capability to read and write these formats.

"However, starting in Office 2007 Microsoft suddenly switched the default format to something called Office Open XML (OOXML). This format is not widely supported outside of Office 2007. So if you save a document in the OOXML format you make it harder for anyone else to read your document unless they are also using Microsoft Office 2007. In almost all cases, the same document, if saved in the legacy DOC format will be more interoperable. Staying with the default choice, OOXML, only restricts your choices and make you more dependent on Microsoft Office. Of course, that is why Microsoft made OOXML the default format.

"The first step to liberate yourself from Microsoft Office dependency is to change the default format in Microsoft Office 2007 away from OOXML and back to the early binary formats supported by Office 97-2003, which are widely supported by 3rd party applications. This is a neutral step that preserves the status quo. By making these changes you will still be able to read and edit any OOXML documents that are sent to you, but all new documents you create will be saved in the more widely supported DOC/XLS/PPT formats."

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