Open .docx with Office 2004

Since the release of Office ’08 I have been getting a lot of files with the .docx extension (the new standard for Word). Unfortunately, Office ’04 does not natively support the .docx extension, but Microsoft has released a patch that lets you both open and save files in the open XML format.

If you have installed the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.0 Update and the Open XML File Format Converter for Mac, you can use Office 2004 applications to open and save files in the Open XML Formats that were introduced in the 2007 Microsoft Office system for Windows and in Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac.

To open files in the XML Format in Office 2004:

  1. Download and install the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.0 Update Package
  2. Download and install the Open XML File Format Converter for Mac package
  3. Once both items are installed restart your computer just to be safe. You should now be able to open .docx with Word 2004 and other Open XML files

Note: I have not tried the following technique myself, but have been told it works. Please post results in the comments.

Another option to open Open XML Formats on a computer without Office 2008 is to convert the file down to the older format. To down convert an Open XML file:

  1. Navigate to: Zamzar
  2. Click “Browse” to browse your local computer to find the file you would like to convert
  3. Select the format you would like to convert to
  4. Enter your email address so Zamzar can send you download link for the file.
  5. Wait…sometimes it takes a little while, but eventually you will get a download link for your freshly converted file.

Microsoft Updates Office 2008 For Mac To 12.1.2, Office 2004 for Mac to 11.5.1

The fine folks in Redmond have released Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.2 update which includes stability and performance enhancements for Office 2008, Office 2008 Home and Student Edition, Office 2008 Special Media Edition, Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008, and Entourage 2008. In addition, this fixes several vulnerabilities, some of which may allow an attacker to run code on your machine if you open malicious document. The download is 160MB and is available at the aforementioned URL (English direct download here) or via the Microsoft AutoUpdate agent.

Microsoft has stated that you should have installed the 12.1.1 Update prior to installing 12.1.2.

In similar fashion, Office 2004 has been updated to 11.5.1 which also has security, stability and performance fixes for Office 2004 Standard Edition, Office 2004 Student and Teacher Edition, Office 2004 Professional Edition, Word 2004, Excel 2004, PowerPoint 2004 and Entourage 2004. The 15MB download (English direct) is available via similar channels as the Office 2008 update.

Microsoft has stated that you should have installed the 11.5.0 Update prior to installing 11.5.1.

For what it’s worth: no problems on my end for Office 12.1.2, but I have not had an opportunity to do extensive testing. Since these updates do include security fixes (have I mentioned just how annoying it is when vendors mix security patches with other fixes?) you should install this immediately (after testing, if you’re in a more formal/larger production/working environment).

AutoUpdate should engage at some point today (it has not been populated as of this writing) and the direct links to the info-pages have not percolated to all of Microsoft’s web farm yet.

Let TAB readers know your post-update praises or woes in the comments!

Sun Posts StarOffice 9 Beta For OS X

Sun Microsystems posted a beta version of StarOffice 9 today (based on OpenOffice). The 183MB download gives you a disk image that contains an application you just copy into your Applications folder (no icky/cumbersome installer). Upon first launch, it prompts you to read the license agreement and asks for some basic user information. Unfortunately, it also stalled on me and required a Force Quit and relaunch before I could start testing it out.

All-in-all, there are some pretty neat enhancements, including:

  • support for Microsoft Office 2007 OOXML files
  • a much improved presenter interface (for slideshows)
  • the ability to import and edit PDF files (via an extension)
  • PDF/A export support along with PDF encryption options
  • much better integration with MySQL databases
  • a calendar extension (requires Thunderbird), finally providing StarOffice with the beginnings of an Outlook competitor
  • a blogging & wiki publishing components (additional extensions)
  • charting and “Solver” additions to Calc
  • a new extension framework (allowing you to roll your own)

I had time to try the Microsoft document support and enhanced PDF import & export and was greatly impressed. You edit PDF files in Draw (kinda makes sense) and can do minor manipulations very easily (though the formatting may not always carry over 100% in the beta). I wanted to try the weblog publisher, but it kept hanging StarOffice each time I tried loading the extension (I can, as a result, report that document recovery works perfectly!).

Since it’s beta, Sun would appreciate feedback you can post your experiences/problems to:

  • General Discussions for feedback about all findings around StarOffice 9 Beta
  • Installation for feedback about StarOffice 9 Beta Installation issues, and
  • Extensions for feedback about StarOffice 9 Beta Extensions

StarOffice 8 is currently listing for $69.95USD, so we can probably expect version 9 to be around that price (which is substantially cheaper than Microsoft Office).

If any TAB readers are heavy Calc users or manage to try out the new Impress or blogging/wiki/Outlook features, drop a note in the comments! TAB should have a full review of the finished product once it’s released.

Microsoft Delivers Goodies For Older Office Users, Too

Along with Office 2008 updates and announced Macintosh Business Unit hiring, Microsoft has also bestowed blessings upon older Office users (2004) with the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.0 Update and version 1.0 of their Open XML File Format Converter for Mac.

The Office 2004 update adds enhanced compatibility for documents that are in Open XML Format and fixes an issue where installer was not properly ignoring backup copies of Office that were created by the Time Machine backup tool. Word 2004 has stability improvements and there are fixes for table display and “Page Setup” dialog functionality. Excel has four groups of fixes and improves compatibility when running 2008 and 2004 side-by-side (and copying/pasting data between applications). Running both is not uncommon as the older version of Office still provides VBA support unlike its newer, shinier cousin. PowerPoint has two improvement areas and will be a welcome update for those with large presentations. You can grab the 59 MB update directly from Microsoft.

The Open XML Converter allows you to convert Open XML files that were created in Office 2008 for Mac or Office 2007 for Windows so that you can open, edit, and save them in earlier versions of Office for Mac. Open XML Converter can convert Word documents, Excel workbooks, and PowerPoint presentations that are in the Open XML Format so that you can open and edit the files in Office 2004 for Mac and Office v. X for Mac.

If you experience problems opening the converter application after you install it, make sure that /Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office Converter Support is installed on the startup volume. If it is missing, or if any of the files listed above are missing, try installing the converter application again.

If Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac is installed on your computer, you will also find the new fonts installed to either /Library/Fonts/Microsoft or /User/username/Library/Fonts/Microsoft (new fonts include: Cambria, Calibri, Consolas, Constantia, Corbel & Candara). Consolas makes a fairly decent Terminal font, btw.

Drop a note in the comments if you make use of either the update or the tool.

Microsoft Stabilizes Office 2008 & Is Taking Names

On June 24th, Microsoft released Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.1 Update which included numerous fixes to stability & performance. This is almost a mandatory update as it addresses significant bugs in almost all Office components. Users experiencing crashes in all Office applications will be glad to know that this has been fixed across the board and Microsoft has also fixed a date issue in charts displayed in Word & PowerPoint.

Six issue areas were corrected or improved in Word 2008 specifically, many of which are conversion-related (between various Word versions) and one involved a macro-glitch may have had a nasty impact in a multi-platform shop (as it lay waste to VBA macros in some circumstances).

Eight groups of issues in Excel 2008 have been addressed including a formula bug that you may not have even noticed (formulas were not executed properly under a few scenarios). PowerPoint 2008 is not nearly as sluggish as it has been and you can more confidently sleep/wake your Mac with Entourage 2008 running.

The Microsoft Office 2008 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Update (12.1.0) must be installed on the computer before you install the Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.1 Update. The 153 MB installer is available now from Microsoft via direct download or through their local software update service (that is installed with Office 2008).

I have downloaded and installed the update with no ill after effects and can confirm that PowerPoint is noticeably speedier.

Looking For A Few Good Macophiles

Microsoft is also expanding its commitment to Mac products and is on a hiring frenzy. They are in search of candidates for multiple roles including Program Managers, Developers, Testers, User Experience, and Marketing, primarily in Redmond and Silicon Valley. You can send your resume to [email protected] if you are interested.

This is your chance to make a difference if you are a fit for any of the open positions.

If you have loaded the update, let us know your experience in the comments and if you successfully land a job, definitely drop us a note!

Watercooler Clips: The Great Office War

Need a quick break from the grind? WWD sister site NewTeeVee Station brings you Watercooler Clips, a selection from our collection of what’s good, interesting and/or of note in the online video world — whatever the web is talking about at the virtual watercooler.

Today, it’s a look at the harsh realities of office politics — what happens when the tension between IT and sales departments explodes into an all-out battle? Runaway Box’s The Great Office War brings that conflict to life. With Nerf guns.

And if you’ve got more procrastinating left in you, come by and check out what else we’re watching at the Station!

RedLasso: No Ceasing and Desisting for Us, Thanks

RedLasso, the television clipping service, today responded to cease-and-desist letters sent by NBC, CBS and FOX last week, saying it would “continue to make its site available for use by bloggers providing social commentary on newsworthy events as it continues to work towards cooperative, mutually beneficial arrangements with those and other content providers.”

“We believe what we’re doing is legal otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it,” RedLasso COO Al McGowan told NewTeeVee. The company said in a release that, “Clip usage by bloggers is an exercise of first amendment rights to provide social commentary on newsworthy events.”

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Question of the Day: What R Your Pre-Launch Priorities?

I spent yesterday afternoon in an hours-long strategy session with some former Y Combinator grads. The team is in the final week of preparing their startup for its Beta launch, and they were having difficulty yesterday deciding what the ultimate hierarchy of the pre-launch tasks should be. I’m sure all founders struggle with this, so it forms our Question of the Day, below.

Their service is cool, and promises to make a very painful business task — document sharing between parties — much easer. (Google Docs is fine, but these guys can make it slick to share documents even across multiple software platforms. I’ll tell you more about it when they come out of stealth.)

Sexy Features

The founders were eager to add one last feature to their product — so they could promote it at launch for its compatibility to some existing big names in the market (like Google Docs). Great marketing value in that for sure, and it shows the founders recognize they’ll need traction immediately to survive in a crowded space. A headline-grabbing feature would help.

But one of their investors grew concerned that this risked jamming to much stuff into the launch. Read More about Question of the Day: What R Your Pre-Launch Priorities?

Wanted: Virtualization Engineer, Referee Exp. Pref.

The virtualization of systems allows for efficient use of server resources and is clearly a trend that many enterprises are embracing. Systems engineers see virtualization as the next generation of tools that can help scale their servers, while network engineers see the virtualization trend headed in their direction as well. Unfortunately, it seems that server virtualization also helps foster trench warfare between the two.

I found myself witness to one small skirmish in this battle today, when I met with a startup looking for funding. The startup is building enterprise services, and for its next generation plans to make heavy use of XenSource’s XenMotion functionality to manage virtual machines on about 50 physical servers. This functionality, which is similar to that of VMware’s VMotion, promises to seamlessly move a virtual machine from one physical server to another. The startup’s service product could be running in one virtual machine on a server and if the server receives too much load or has a failure, the XenMotion functionality could move the virtual machine to another server without resulting in any downtime. For an enterprise services startup, avoiding downtime is a good idea.

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Microsoft Stays Competitive for Small Business, Updates Office Live

Office Live logoMicrosoft has updated it’s Office Live service, now called Office Live Small Business.  Originally launched about two years ago, Office Live offered business an easy way to get set up with an online office suite, including a free domain name, a basic website, and hosted email service.  Since then it has garnered around 600,000 users.  The online suite was heavily marketed at small business who have a) little or no IT staff and b) little understanding of how to set these these types of services up.

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