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Opening legacy docs in MS Word
Authored by: Keir-thomas on Jan 05, '12 08:10:37AM

Here's a potential solution.

You can download the last DOS version of Microsoft Word free of charge. Here's the link: http://download.microsoft.com/download/word97win/Wd55_be/97/WIN98/EN-US/Wd55_ben.exe

This will probably understand the old file types, and you might be able to output them as something like Rich Text files, which all modern word processors understand.

You can run this in DosBox, a DOS emulator, for which a version is available for Macs:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/dosbox/files/dosbox/0.74/DOSBox-0.74_Universal.dmg/download

Here's some old instructions I wrote for a book a few years ago for doing all this using Ubuntu and DOSBox. The instructions can be adapted for Mac:

1. The first thing to do is create a virtual hard disk for DOSBox by creating an empty folder in your /home folder—you can call it any- thing, but drive_c is a good a name as any.

2. Download the old DOS version of Microsoft Word. It’s freeware nowadays and is just over 3MB in size.

3. Copy the downloaded file into your virtual hard disk folder. Then start DOSBox and connect to the virtual hard disk you created earlier by typing mount C foldername, replacing 'foldername' with the name of the folder. Then switch to the new hard drive by typing C:.

4. Still in the DOSBox window, type Wd55_ben.exe to uncompress the installer. You’ll see a few errors about files that already exist. Just ignore the errors—overwrite or don’t overwrite. It’s up to you.

5. Once the decompression has finished, type setup.exe to run the installer. Work through the installation options. Don’t let Word alter your system settings or add a new mouse driver—DOSBox takes care of all that for you.

6. Once installation has finished, type word.exe to run Word. Then open and then save your files in a new format.

If you liked this, consider taking a look at my new book: Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks hints and hacks for OS X Lion: http://pragprog.com/book/ktmack/mac-kung-fu

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