Google Apps drops download support for old Office formats

The change may drive users of old Office versions to install Microsoft's compatibility software upgrade

Google Apps will not support the downloading of documents in older Microsoft Office formats starting on Monday, the company said on Wednesday.

The change will affect ".doc," ".xls," and ".ppt" documents created in Office versions 1997-2003, Google wrote on its blog. It affects Google Apps, Google Apps for Business, Government and Education.

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The change could make it cumbersome for someone who uses an old version of Office and receives, for example, a XML-based ".docx" Word document from a Google Apps user, although Microsoft has long offered a software upgrade to allow older Office suites to open the newer file formats.

It appears users will still be able to upload ".doc," ".xls," and ".ppt" file types. Google Apps supports a range of other non-Office file formats for downloading, including the OpenDocument specifications, PDFs and plain text (.txt).

Microsoft began using XML-based file formats starting with Office 2007 although it maintains compatibility with its older formats.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com.

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