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New Office file formats could cause headaches

Microsoft says Windows Mobile, Office for Mac won't be compatible with XML formats until next year.

Microsoft has pledged to make its new Office 2007 file formats accessible within the company's other products, but the timeline for that support varies widely.

Although the company already has converters available for older PC versions of Office, the Mac translation tools are still in development. Microsoft now doesn't expect to have the tools available until late March or April, the company said Tuesday.

"We realize this will be an inconvenience for some of you," Microsoft acknowledged in its Macmojo blog. Folks in the Mac software unit at Microsoft say they have experienced the pain firsthand, now that a good percentage of Microsoft employees are using Office 2007.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Windows Mobile unit said in an e-mail on Tuesday that its PocketPC and Smartphone devices won't be able to read and edit the new formats until the middle of next year.

Microsoft released the final version of Office 2007 to businesses last week, with consumers slated to get their hands on the product in January.

The Mac unit had pledged in August that it would have free converters to allow the Mac version of Office to read and write to Office 2007's new formats.

Although this may not be the official Redmond company line, the Mac unit is suggesting companies put off moving to the new Office XML file formats and stick with the older, more compatible ones. "For now, we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a 'Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document' (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms," Microsoft said on the Macmojo blog.