Google Docs dumping some older Microsoft Office formats

If you are a user of Google Docs but prefer to use some older Microsoft Office-based document formats, you might want to make some preparations to change those plans. Google has announced that a number of older Microsoft Office document formats won't be supported for its Google Docs service very soon.

A post on the Google Apps page states that, starting on October 1st, Google Docs users won't be able to download documents in the .doc, .xls, and .ppt formats, which were used by Microsoft Office from 1997 to 2003.

As TheNextWeb.com points out, there are still a lot of businesses and consumers that might still have the older versions of Microsoft Office installed on their PCs. This change, which was announced only a few days before it is supposed to go into effect, will likely cause businesses that still use the older versions of Office some some problems. There's no word on why Google made this sudden change.

Microsoft has, of course, launched its own online document software suite in Office 365. A new version is scheduled to be launched sometime in early 2013, alongside the launch of the stand alone Office 2013 software productivity product.

Source: Google Apps | Image via Google

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Windows flaw found; bug hunters paid bounty by Google

Next Story

Intel calls Windows 8 "not ready" remarks "unsubstantiated"

63 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Interesting to see a huge discussion on the decision of a proprietary provider to cease supporting another proprietary providers document format. What this discussion does highlight is that many many people have failed backup 101 and have stored their data in proprietary formats and are only now beginning to realise that proprietary data formats are a very bad idea.

Sadly they blame everyone but themselves for storing their data in said proprietary formats. Wake up and smell the coffee. There are "open" formats available. Even Microsoft are going to support ODF properly, or so they say.

Store your data in an open format, or simply toss the media it is stored on into the trash. Storing proprietary data formats also requires that you store the application that created the data, or face the almost certain problem of reading the data when the time comes.

Google are to be congratulated, and I would hope their next move is to prevent the writing of non open format files. Read Docx but not write it. That would be the truly ethical approach for the format nightmare that Microsoft in particular have created.

The only issue here is that you won't be able to read them in Google Docs. That's it.

You can still upload and store them in .doc format.

My god you people make a mountain out of a molehill.

hmm, shame, hard for a lot of universities as well now I'd imagine.

i'd expect it would start a lot more use of open formats where there are plugins or native support.

also @ john Callaham "Office some some problems" might want to fix that.

I thought .docx was experimental. Well its ok for me. even in school the professors were ok with docx. It will just be a pain to convert all the old files i have.

moloko said,
I thought .docx was experimental.
Any idea what gave you that impression? It's been the default in Office since 2007.

Anyone trusting their content to Google should be slapped up side the head. They flat out state they use information from Google Docs in their 'data mining' even if they don't open your content specifically.

(People used to call this 'spying' and 'insider trading', but today is the awesome Google way.)

Riva said,
Google Docs is so nice for our company. Now lets open that legal document from 1999... oups

You will still be able to open import, just not export it back out.

I'm a bit confused, it sounds like you will be still be able to upload Office 97-2003 format ?

Also Office 2013 will be Open Document Format 1.2 compliant. The situation where open office / libreoffice files don't open correctly in Office 2010 is only supports Open Document Format version 1.1

To hell with google docs. Old job used it and it was horrible. PLENTY of people still use the old formats just like plenty of people still use XP. Everyone should upgrade but good luck getting everyone to do so.

Microsoft Web Apps use the new formats too.

Nothing new here folks, some people will continue using Windos/Office XP till they die.

Ehm, hello? You won't be able to export your documents to .doc, .xls or whatever. Why should you be? You can still import them, and if you really want to keep them editable for someone who doesn't have a modern productivity suite installed then just send them the link to the Google Docs edit thing.
It's a good thing someone is dropping support for 2003 and older. There is absolutely no reason to keep using it, and if you really do still use it you can at least install the free compatibility pack.

RIP google docs. honestly It was a very good service when I was using it. now with the new version of Skydrive and all those sexy features, sneaky google's privacy policy and this lack of 2003-2007 format support I have to say goodbye to google docs or drive or whatever and dive into skydrive service.

I still find it annoying when people send other people Doc or Docx files assuming they have word. Why not just save them out as a PDF more people have adobe acrobat than they do microsoft word viewer.

warwagon said,
I still find it annoying when people send other people Doc or Docx files assuming they have word. Why not just save them out as a PDF more people have adobe acrobat than they do microsoft word viewer.

Wordpad is compatible with both formats and ships free with Windows

warwagon said,
I still find it annoying when people send other people Doc or Docx files assuming they have word. Why not just save them out as a PDF more people have adobe acrobat than they do microsoft word viewer.
If I'm expecting you to edit the document, I'm not going to send it in PDF format. You are more likely to have Word or a compatible editor, than Acrobat.

warwagon said,
I still find it annoying when people send other people Doc or Docx files assuming they have word. Why not just save them out as a PDF more people have adobe acrobat than they do microsoft word viewer.

I often face complex review processes with about 10 people providing Word review comments and track changes. PDF is the norm for finalised stuff which goes out - e.g. invoices, letters, etc. I'd agree with you though that people tend to put Word files on a web site for example whereas PDF would be the better choice to ensure accessibility.

warwagon said,
I still find it annoying when people send other people Doc or Docx files assuming they have word. Why not just save them out as a PDF more people have adobe acrobat than they do microsoft word viewer.

You are clueless... stop commenting.

warwagon said,
I still find it annoying when people send other people Doc or Docx files assuming they have word. Why not just save them out as a PDF more people have adobe acrobat than they do microsoft word viewer.

Less people have a PDF reader than a DOC reader. Additionally, PDF are notoriously far less secure of a way to send content than a doc.

(Word for many years have locked any scripted operations from running, and Acrobat and even Apple's PDF variations have just recently started including security checking.)

Also there is the technical aspect that PDF is a horrible technology. From the way it handles fonts, to its inability to handle graphics properly (which means everyone rasterizes vector content to huge file sizes.)

Go look at XPS and XAML technology, and why more high end printing and publishing companies are using it for internal projects. Just the fact it can handle highly complex vector graphics that PDF cannot is a big advantage.

Cute James said,
This is a rather surprising move - I wonder why they would remove support for these popular formats?

Because they're dead and there's no reason anybody should be saving files in them anymore?

TCLN Ryster said,

Because they're dead and there's no reason anybody should be saving files in them anymore?

Try joining the real world. These formats are alive and well.

TCLN Ryster said,

Because they're dead and there's no reason anybody should be saving files in them anymore?

You do realize there are people STILL using Word 97, right? You also realize there are several 'competitive' products that do not support the newer docx format, right?

jwil1 said,
1997-2003? More like since Office's inception in 1992...

The file extension maybe, but the format of the content of the files changed in the 97 release. That's why when you do "Save As" in Word and choose the format, it says 97-2003 .doc in the list.

Lord Method Man said,

That it's time to stop providing life support to dead formats used by people who refuse to ever upgrade anything.

Dead formats? Good luck forcing Jane and Joe to upgrade their office infrastructure, home computer and working habits just so that they can use Google Docs. Reality check time.

Lord Method Man said,

That it's time to stop providing life support to dead formats used by people who refuse to ever upgrade anything.

They don't even need to upgrade. There's absolutely NO EXCUSE for demanding files be saved in the old formats. If you absolutely must stick with Office 2003, then install the free compatibility pack. Link above.

TCLN Ryster said,

They don't even need to upgrade. There's absolutely NO EXCUSE for demanding files be saved in the old formats. If you absolutely must stick with Office 2003, then install the free compatibility pack. Link above.

I'll be sure to tell that to my government customers next time they ask me what the heck I sent them.

Lord Method Man said,

That it's time to stop providing life support to dead formats used by people who refuse to ever upgrade anything.


BRB just forming a group to abolish the .TXT format and make sure it's replaced by new .msn (MaSiveNotes) which have a minimum file saving size of 50MB per file so that there's no fragmentation!

Lord Method Man said,

That it's time to stop providing life support to dead formats used by people who refuse to ever upgrade anything.


As a matter of fact, these dead formats that you're referring to is supported by upcoming office 2013 along with enable pdf and open format document editing. I think is just google doc or drive's that should go away not any format. In your logic for instance .gif file is an old format so imaging softwares should drop support opening it?

TCLN Ryster said,

They don't even need to upgrade. There's absolutely NO EXCUSE for demanding files be saved in the old formats. If you absolutely must stick with Office 2003, then install the free compatibility pack. Link above.

Doesn't the compatibility pack only allow for opening of these formats, not saving?

Lord Method Man said,

That it's time to stop providing life support to dead formats used by people who refuse to ever upgrade anything.

Yes, in a way they are dated formats, but there are a lot of people that still count on these formats.

There are TONS of historical data saved in these formats, whether you like it or not. So your rant can be a fun crusade, but in REALITY, you not going to get every archived document changed to a newer version just because it is more modern.

BTW The file format issue is WHY Microsoft pushed for XML/HTML storage and display technology for Office 2000, and why up until the final RC, it saved using a native HTML/XML based format.

It was the monopoly investigation and objections by ranking 'web' members like Sun that deterred Microsoft from using XML as their standard document format. Sun and others portrayed the Word/Excel XML document format as a way Microsoft was trying to take over the web, because it would be too easy for people to post Word documents instead of hand created HTML content.

This is also why when Sun told the standards group that Microsoft's format was immature, they KNEW they were lying. Especially after the initial 2002 meetings when Microsoft offered to give the OpenDocument group all their XML storage technology for free and adhere to the standards built from them. Which Sun vetoed and Microsoft subsequently walked out of the meetings.

I hate technology politics, especially when companies like Sun and IBM literally retarded the Internet technologies for nearly a decade in their ****ing match with Microsoft.

As for why Google is doing this, it makes no sense, as they have no advantage in limiting the formats they support. Other than getting lazy or fearing some patent infringement.

TCLN Ryster said,

They don't even need to upgrade. There's absolutely NO EXCUSE for demanding files be saved in the old formats. If you absolutely must stick with Office 2003, then install the free compatibility pack. Link above.

Most corporate users have no control over what is installed on their computers, lots of them are stuff with 2003 and no pack....deal with it

n_K said,

BRB just forming a group to abolish the .TXT format and make sure it's replaced by new .msn (MaSiveNotes) which have a minimum file saving size of 50MB per file so that there's no fragmentation!

You know why this is funny?

Because

Wait for it

OK yes I'm being annoying

.doc doesn't have any compression! .docx does!

Lord Method Man said,

In Amish country.

No my friend, it's still quite common out there, this is coming from someone that works in the industry.

Lord Method Man said,

In Amish country.


Most of our customers are still using those formats and they happen to be quite big. As big as you probably have one of their products at home

togermano said,
Big mistake.... Alot of people still use .doc and many of my professors ask if you save thing as a .doc instead of .docx

Only because they're too lazy to install the totally free Office Compatibility Pack from Microsoft. There's absolutely no need to require saving in the old format just to pamper to the people that are too cheap to upgrade their 5+ year old version of Office to a later version. Install this and it doesn't matter if somebody sends you a .xlsx or .docx file.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3

TCLN Ryster said,

Only because they're too lazy to install the totally free Office Compatibility Pack from Microsoft. There's absolutely no need to require saving in the old format just to pamper to the people that are too cheap to upgrade their 5+ year old version of Office to a later version. Install this and it doesn't matter if somebody sends you a .xlsx or .docx file.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3

if ms did something like this they would be sued into the ground. its not like its a format that doesn't get used ever.

togermano said,
Big mistake.... Alot of people still use .doc and many of my professors ask if you save thing as a .doc instead of .docx

I remember when my professors would ask us to use .doc - they stopped doing it around 2009...

Colin McGregor said,

if ms did something like this they would be sued into the ground. its not like its a format that doesn't get used ever.

Sued for what exactly?

Colin McGregor said,

if ms did something like this they would be sued into the ground. its not like its a format that doesn't get used ever.

I'm having a hard time linking your reply up with what I wrote... help me out here.

TCLN Ryster said,

Only because they're too lazy to install the totally free Office Compatibility Pack from Microsoft. There's absolutely no need to require saving in the old format just to pamper to the people that are too cheap to upgrade their 5+ year old version of Office to a later version. Install this and it doesn't matter if somebody sends you a .xlsx or .docx file.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3

Unless your using the file in a third party program that wasn't built when they introduced the new file formats. Installing the pack has no effect in that case.

togermano said,
Big mistake.... Alot of people still use .doc and many of my professors ask if you save thing as a .doc instead of .docx

My first thought, I work IT and I see so many Office 2003 out there that it's a must have feature. This would work in favor of Microsoft I bet.

TCLN Ryster said,

Only because they're too lazy to install the totally free Office Compatibility Pack from Microsoft. There's absolutely no need to require saving in the old format just to pamper to the people that are too cheap to upgrade their 5+ year old version of Office to a later version. Install this and it doesn't matter if somebody sends you a .xlsx or .docx file.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3


You are missing the point. Google sells Docs as an alternative to office