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January 3, 2008

Office 2003 SP3 Blocks Older Office Files From Opening

Microsoft has added a "feature" to Office 2003 SP3.  It blocks files from older versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from opening or saving.  The service pack also blocks files from Lotus, Quattro, and Corel Draw.  These formats are a security threat according to Knowledge Base article 938810.

The article suggests a few work arounds.  The easiest is to find an unpatched copy of Office 2003 and work away in unsecured bliss.  The second is to modify the registry to unblock the file formats.  The steps, though detailed, are not for the squeamish when it comes to potentially crippling the operating system.  The third method not mentioned is to use an Office competitor that still opens these file formats.  They include Open Office, Star Office (this one costs), Star Office via Google Pack (this one doesn't), and IBM Lotus Symphony, among others.

The Open Office Writer page notes that "WRITER can of course read all your old Microsoft Word documents, or save your work in Microsoft Word format for sending to people who are still locked into Microsoft products."  That is, assuming the compatible formats aren't blocked by Service Pack 3.  I don't suppose that Microsoft's motive is to lock out files these programs might create that interoperate with MS Office.  Still, these suites offer a way of getting to the content of archived files without destroying your computer in the process.

January 3, 2008 | Permalink

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