Any user who needs to transfer documents created using Microsoft Office 2007 to a computer with Microsoft Office 2003 would have faced what is called a compatibility issue. This problem arises due to the difference in file formats between these two versions of MS Office. While Microsoft Office 2007 offers support for MS Office 2003 file formats, the reverse is not true. This article talks about compatibility issues in detail and provides online Microsoft Office Support resources to help solve such issues.

Software versions can be either upward or downward compatible. When an older version of specific software is able to run files from a newer version, the software is termed upward compatible. Similarly if the newer version runs older files seamlessly, the software is downward compatible. In this case, MS Office 2007 is downward compatible, whereas, MS Office 2003 is not upward compatible by itself.


Files created on MS Office 2003 are saved either in .doc or .xls or .ppt formats, depending on the document type whereas, those created on MS Office 2007 are saved in .docx or .xlsx or .pptx formats.  The ‘x’ represents the new format based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML). When a .doc file is opened on Word 2007, the software automatically runs on a Compatibility Mode which is also activated when a new document is saved in .doc format. Alternatively, this can also be manually configured. When running on compatibility mode, newer features of the software, for instance, the SmartArt diagramming tool would not be available for use.

A .doc file can be created on Word 2007 by clicking the Office button at the top left of the panel and selecting the ‘Word 97-2003 document’ option under the ‘Save As’ tab.

Certain features on Word 2007 would then be disabled and such a document can then be opened using Word 2003 as well.

Although Word 2003 does not support XML format based documents independently, installing the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack can solve this problem. Instead it is possible to check whether a newer version file can be run on the older version without any compatibility issues. On a few occasions, compatibility issues can be resolved by installing the latest Office suite Service Pack (SP).

Since Microsoft Office 2007 introduces many new and useful features which are not available with older versions, it is advisable to go for a system upgrade to the 2007 or 2010 suite. While offering complete compatibility with older document formats, their enhanced user interface and available add-ons make file creation, editing, reviewing and converting so much easier. On MS Office 2007, it is possible to install several add-ons which were not available for MS Office 2003, whereas, MS Office 2010 comes pre-loaded with these features. MS Office 2007 comes in eight different versions; each version targeting a specific group of consumers from small businesses to students and professionals. Users would benefit from online Microsoft Office Support services which can help upgrade Microsoft Office to the latest version or revamp existing versions for optimal performance.

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