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Opening legacy docs in MS Word
Authored by: Pierre Igot on Jan 03, '12 11:56:57AM

I am afraid this "hint" is simply incorrect. I have old Word 3/4 documents from 1988/1989 that Word 2011 (or Word 2008 for that matter) is simply unable to open, no matter which option I choose. When I try to open them, Word throws a "Convert File" dialog box asking me to choose a file format to convert from, but "Word 3 document" and "Word 4 document" are not listed as options and "Rich Text Format" does not work.

There is also an option called "Recover text from any file" (which is apparently a file format in MS's parlance) but it fails to preserve accented characters, so even that option is useless. For such files, my only option is to force-open them in TextEdit, which at least preserves the accents. (Take that, Microsoft.)

Word 2011 is indeed able to open Word 5 documents, but not via double-click or drag-and-drop. You are obliged to go through the Open File dialog box for each file. If you make sure that the file name includes ".doc", you don't have to use any special options to open them. (Be aware, however, that some Word 5 documents will cause Word 2011 to crash or freeze, presumably because of the nature of some of their contents, so you have no guarantee here either.)

Microsoft's inability to support its own older file formats is scandalous, but we are used to such disregard for usability and data integrity from the world's biggest software developers, I am afraid.

In light of these shortcomings in Word 2011 and Lion's lack of support for older versions of Word, I made sure to convert all my older Word documents before upgrading to Lion:

"Getting ready for Lion: Converting old files"
http://www.betalogue.com/2011/07/14/lion-oldfiles/

Pierre

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Pierre Igot
LATEXT - Literature, Music & Visuals @ www.latext.com
BETALOGUE - Weblog at www.betalogue.com


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