How to Read .DOCX Files

As much as I like Vista, I dislike Microsoft Office in all it’s incarnations. I don’t have Microsoft Office on my computer and I suspect it’s one of the reasons why my system is so stable. Office is just way to invasive and complex for my liking. Alas, there are those out there that insist on sending me documents in .DOC format or more lately .DOCX formats. .DOCX is the newer Office 2007 format. There are various online and desktop converters that will convert these new .DOCX formats into .DOC formats (Yuck!). Some of the online converters like Zamzar will convert to other more portable formats like PDF. But there’s an easier way. Microsoft makes free “Viewers” for all their Office programs.

The Word Viewer 2007 appears to be some kind of a hybrid. When I downloaded and ran the installer, it said it was installing Word Viewer 2003. At first I thought I downloaded the wrong program. After double-checking, I carried on. When I tried to open the .DOCX files the Word Viewer opened and offered to download a compatibility pack for the newer formats. Ok, another download and another install.

Finally, 15 minutes and 50 megabytes later I can now open .DOCX files. What a pain and all because Microsoft’s own operating system can’t open their own document formats natively. Next time you distribute a document from Office, think about a more portable format like PDF. From what I understand, Word 2007 can export directly to PDF. I hear there’s this format called HTML that’s also relatively portable.

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