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Thursday, 03 January, 2008

Office 2003 Downgraded With Service Pack 3

What software company takes features away in a service pack? Microsoft does: Microsoft's planned obsolescence smacks Office 2003.

If you need to access old Microsoft file formats for early versions of Word, Excel, or Powerpoint -- but you've suddenly and dramatically found yourself unable to do so -- there's an intentional reason from Microsoft behind that conundrum, according to a bulletin put out by Microsoft last month.

The reason for the unexpected incompatibility is that, by default, the SP3 update, which became available in mid-September, blocks the file formats used by these older desktop productivity tools from Microsoft.

Moreover, the same also holds true for the file formats used in older versions of products that just so happen to compete with some of Microsoft's software offerings, such as the multiplatform Lotus Notes and Corel's Quattro spreadsheet and Draw software.

Why?

The excuse given in Microsoft's online document is that the earlier file formats from Microsoft and its rivals are "less secure" than the formats in Office 2003 and 2007.

Specifically, if you install the service pack, Excel 2003 will no longer be able to open the following file formats: .wk1, .wk4, .wj3, wk1 FMT, .wks, .wk3, wk3 FM3, .wj2, .wq1, .fm3, .wj1, .dif, and .slk.

This will affect companies that have been using these old file formats for years, without a problem. And now, all of a sudden, they are security risks because they've installed a bug fix.

Microsoft, however, is kind enough to tell you how to edit your registry to get the lost functionality back. See Information about certain file formats that are blocked after you install Office 2003 Service Pack 3.


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