Friday, July 17, 2009

Office Open XML confusion

Office Open XML is the Microsoft specification for Office 2007 files that was adopted as an ISO/IEC Standard in 2008. Among the benefits touted for Office Open XML is that one can open, edit and generate these files without needing to buy Microsoft Office 2007. To date, however, there are no practical alternatives to using Microsoft Office to work with these files.

Recently, a client of ours was baffled by the challenge of opening Open XML documents sent to him by Federal procurement officers. Our client received zip files which he logically unzipped. That left him with a relatively large number of xml files which he could open in a browser, but which were nonsense.

What to do? The answer is simple but HARD TO FIND on the web.

  1. Don't unzip the zip files. Rename them, changing the extension of each from .zip to .docx (assuming it is a Word document).
  2. Download and install the Microsoft Office File Compatibility Pack (if you are using Office 2003).
  3. Double-click on each of the .docx files, and it should open properly in Word.

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