July 1, 2009
Update: April 20, 2014
The situation is now reversed--majority of the mobile
OS Office viewers do not support the legacy format. The docx, xlsx, pptx
formats have become the new norm.
US Adoption Picture (as of mid 2009)
||Consumers New Purchase
||Default choice, as pre-installed, or as available at retail for
purchase since end of 2006
||Consumers Install Base
||Still many legacy Office 2K/XP/2003 around, with new 2007 added
||Very Sm Biz - Unmanaged
||Operate like Consumers. Less incentive. More budgetary pressure due
to scaling (qty). But unable to provide logistical solutions.
||IT Managed Sm Biz
||Fully able to move forward or hold back as optimal for operational
concerns. Not-at-all dictated by vendor's schedule. Able to supply
logistical know-how and tools to implement hybrid/legacy setup as
needed. Favor simplicity and lower expenditure. Not interested in latest
||IT Managed Med Biz
||Operate like #3, but with larger budget, and more tech savvy,
appreciate new features. Greater need for advanced features, due to
||Major incentives: superior Outlook/Exchange features. In-house
developed solutions based on Word/Excel/PP 2007 feature sets. Typically
have pre-allocated funding and on-going upgrade contract in-place. Cost
is not a concern. Also benefit in major security boost.
- Office 2007
- released since end of 2006 (3 years ago)
- Office 2003
- discontinued since April 2007 (28 months of 2007-only sales).
- Mainstream support ended 4/14/2009.
- EOL 4/8/2014.
- Office 2000
- Mainstream support ended 6/30/2004
- EOL 7/14/2009
Compatibility Status & Notes
- All 4 versions: Office 97, Office 2000, Office XP (2002) and
Office 2003, use the same Office 97
file format. Only features and user interfaces are different.
- Office 2007 uses the new format by default. Can be configured to default
to old format, with reduction in functions.
- The new format has been adopted by various government agencies
world-wide as their official standard document format, as it is legally an
open standard. The old format was proprietary.
- New format is compressed and generally much smaller.
- New format supports encryption (not just password protected).
- Office 2007 is backward compatible, i.e. it can read/write old format
Strategies, Policies and Options
- Coping with the mixed format enriornment during this transition
period, which could last a decade...
- Large organizations simply update their IT infrastructure
regularly and have already naturally rendered the issue moot.
- Others (with clout) find it most optimal to officially declare & enforce
a hold-back policy, demanding compliance from internal staff and
- Majority of small buinesses have staggered (and
oft over-long) upgrade cycle within the organization, and no
clout, thus adopt hybrid mode by default.
- Users of Office 2003 may install a converter (free download from
- It is an integrated file converter add-on, not a version upgrade.
- It enables 2003 (but not earlier)
legacy users to open documents in 2007 format, but does not support any of
the new features
- transparent procedure: opening documents in new format
automatically triggers background launch of converter program,
eventually resulting in such documents opened in Office 2003, in
reduceded format all new features stripped.
- The delay incurred is very noticible. The added hardware
resource demand is also quite significant for some old systems.
- Installing this partial Office 2007 code also incurr additional
security risks, via Office 2007 vulnerabilities.
- Users of Office 2007 may configure their software in compatibility mode,
causing all newly created documents to be in legacy format by
default, and prompting for "save as 97-2003 format" conversion prompt
when editing a document in new 2007 format.
- Ad hoc per-document manual conversion. Ask coworkers or external
partners to use "save as" procedure, as a special accommodation.
- Use non-integrated file converter utility online, or locally installed