back to article Office update disables MS files

Microsoft's Service Pack 3 for Office 2003 blocks you from opening certain file formats the software giant deems less secure - including its own. The service pack will block access to files including some Office Excel 2003, MS Office PowerPoint 2003 and MS Office Word 2003, it has emerged, as well as Corel Draw formats. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    What?? you are not using Office 2007?

    This is nothing more than a nudge by M$ to increase the uptake of 2007.

  2. Greg

    I beg your bloody pardon??

    More of Microsoft thinking it knows better than me how I should be using my PC. If I want to open a file, I'll bloody well open a file! Sounds like the "Vista Paradigm" encroaching on XP.

    I applaud the turning off of product activation, but blocking file formats they think are bad? Who's betting that OpenOffice formats are on there...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Office 2003 is less secure...

    So you'd better "upgrade", if not we will take away access. Unbeleivable.

  4. Joskyn Jones
    Thumb Down


    ...BIG effing twats...!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The best way to keep the machine safe from harm is to remove the power cable, encase it in concrete, and bury deep under the ground.

  6. Mark
    Thumb Down

    What's wrong with a warning?

    I can understand that they want to deprecate these file formats due to such concerns, but I would've thought a simple warning that the files are not regarded as secure on load/saving such a file would've been enough.

  7. Red Bren
    Gates Horns

    Self appointed guardian of the 3 letter file extension?

    Who made M$ the final arbiter of which 3 letter extensions we can use? Do we have to get clearance from them for every bespoke application we write?

  8. John Macintyre

    hmm that's it

    was just about to post that it was actually the office 2003 update, not the xp update when i realised the title had indeed been corrected...

    anyway, it's anything before 2003, and only applies to the office 2003 update, so most people won't be using older versions anyway. More than likely it's actually saying that it's downgraders that convert older versions of office files is buggy so it would rather you upgraded than they fixed it...

  9. Anonymous Coward

    does the same restriction apply to...


    2008. The year the IT department finally notices that MS have lost the plot (when the CEO's PA can't get at their documents any more...).

  10. Cameron Colley

    But it's easy to use!

    Will you please stop moaning about how Windows is bad -- just look at how easy it is to use for the average user!

  11. Alistair

    Executable content in documents?

    No thanks. I'd like to disable all MS-Office based formats but can't quite, yet.

    Soon the red dragon of mond will be slain and freedom shall be ours once more!

  12. Test Man


    ... not too much bother as you can batch-convert your old documents to newer formats anyway.

    At the end of the day, if the older formats (not just Office ones) are unsafe, then might as well deny access. You can reverse it yourself by adding new registry items anyway (which is a one-time thing so it may be irrirating but definitely not worth the typical "OMFG M$ idiots!!1!!!!onetwothree!" reaction.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Thank God for Open/PortableOffice then...

    Office 97 is still the best of the lot, although it's going out the window soon for a copy of OpenOffice.

  14. Bruce Robinson

    iWorks 8

    ...and they wonder why the Mac sales have been drifting steadily North since the introduction of Vista and Office 2007.

  15. DrunkenMessiah
    Thumb Down

    @ Cameron Colley

    Erm... no, bad user, bad!

    You seem to have missed the point completely. By performing little "updates" like this, MS are actually making it harder for the general user to use their product.

    Mind you, we all know that said user would just click the OK button to any warning box so why not?

  16. Steven


    .txt files still work perfectly ;)

  17. Mark Allen
    Gates Horns

    So - what about Office 2007?

    If this patch to stop "bad" file types from being opened is being applied to Office 2003. Does that imply that Office 2007 already refuses to work with these files?

    Or have we got more ConsistentConfusion™ from M$?

    What I would like to know is... anyone got a copy of OpenOffice and Office 2003? What's the betting that the file types blocked include those saved by OpenOffice?

    Also - why a messy registry hack to turn this off? Why can't they just bury this in the Options? The average dumb user doesn't know what the "Options" are for anyway... so wouldn't mess with it. (Just like in Outlook Express and it's handling of attachments. The "idiot switch" is on by default to stop dumb users opening any old attachment... but it does mean that more "intelligent" users can at least turn the filter off.... (though why any "intelligent" user is using OE... that's another matter!!))

  18. Morely Dotes

    @ John Macintyre

    "most people won't be using older versions anyway."

    In point of fact, John, most people *never* buy a newer version of MS Office, once they have any version installed. The installed user base for "prior to Office 2003" is roughly ten times the size of the combined 2003 and 2007 user base.

    So it's going to affect anyone who receives files from 9 out of 10 users outside their own office, and who is using Office 2003.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read the KB Article

    The blocked file types are saved in Office 5/95 or older file formats along with some file formats that Office 2003 can read and write but Office 2007 can't/won't.

    That said, I'd love to see how anyone could load malicious content into a DIF file.

  20. whitespacephil
    Gates Horns

    They did this before

    Office something--or--other service pack 1 disabled "certain" file types in Outlook. With no way of turning them back on again.

    Stop it. At once.

  21. Colin Wilson

    Malicious content in a DIF file

    Hell, why not, they managed to completely phuck up JPG handling to make them potentially dangerous...

  22. BoldMan

    Office 2000 for me and its good enough!

    Don't feel the slightest need to upgrade - Office 2000 has everything... in fact more... than I ever need to use.

    Mind you my favourite version of Word was Word 6 for the Mac back in the early 90s. I was working as a tech author then and was able to make it jump through all the hoops I wanted without it making ME jump through hoops like the current (ie Word 2000) version does.

  23. Nexox Enigma


    To hell with notepad, you can use vim in Windows. Well, gvim anyway, which is close enough. Not only is it far more useful as a text editor... but you don't have any of those tedious problems with the wrong style of line endings.

    But in principal, I agree, text editers are far more useful than Word, especially if you know a bit about LaTeX.

  24. Ed

    Gone off the deep end.

    Microsoft has clearly gone off the deep end and should be medicated for its own good.

  25. brandon
    Jobs Horns

    @Bruce Robinson

    As an proud and happy apple owner, I have to warn everyone that iWorks '08 is the biggest bundle of sh!t they ever let off the line, they should rename it to iDontWorkWithAnythingButiWorks '08, as the default file format for pages is .pages (no converter for windows, no free viewer for mac or pc), and the only way to get a word doc out the other end is to export (not very user friendly at that). Not that I am condoning MS actions here, just lets call a spade a spade and a pile of sh!t a pile of sh!t, iWorks it does not.

    Anon FTW

  26. J

    Re: Well...

    "... not too much bother as you can batch-convert your old documents to newer formats anyway."

    Great idea! I just don't know why then people keep moaning they cannot switch to OpenOffice, because they would have to convert their humongous amount of files...

    Because, you know, MS Word itself cannot correctly open its own old formats, as I've seen many times with stuff I created 10 or 12 years ago. Lots of damn little square on the screen... (and it's not a font problem, btw)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why MS is doomed despite global domination.

    MS always takes the bass ackwardest approach - Don't fix the problem in the app, impose problems on the user. These files being insecure is a load of bull, they can only do what the app opening them allows. They're simultaneously conceding a flaw in the product and refusing to fix it while removing the functionality paid for.

  28. Tom

    File types are not unsafe

    Office is, it's not like it is active X it's just a data file...

    It's just easier to kill off an old file format then to fix the buffer overflow or whatever hole is in the Office2003 file import code.

  29. Steven Hewittt
    Gates Halo

    Realistically speaking though

    This is a fairly minor issue that won't affect many organizations in the real world that cares about business and not religious ideas about freedom etc. Microsoft is still provably superior in technology, integration and ease of use period. Once again they show that they're serious about security.

    And all you linux nuts can go back compiling your kernels.

  30. Matt Hawkins

    M$ Office. So 2007.

    People are still using Micro$oft Office? How quaint.

  31. captainslog

    A Microsoft Tangent

    As an aside.....

    Outlook Express under XP linked painlessly to a Hotmail account.

    The Mail program shipped with Vista doesn't.

    Time for the guys at Redmond to start listening to the user instead of dictating terms. Imagine an car salesman who told you where and when you were permitted to use a vehicle he sold to you?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Garbage in ...

    No need to blame document content. Hire application engineers who are able to validate input instead.

    Is MS on a suicide mission? First their obvious attempt to corrupt standards. Then disabling old document-formats while there is increasing focus on loss of data due to unsupported obsolete closed file-formats.

  33. BitTwister


    These file types are presumably considered unsafe because they're using 'features' which at the time, were touted as 'innovative' and 'user-friendly'.

    It's quite revealing that even when used with the latest shiny versions of the OS and applications they're *still* considered unsafe.

    Doesn't say very much for the alleged improvements in Microsoft's OS and applications, does it...

  34. Anonymous Coward

    For some bizarre reason

    XP won't search in certain file types when looking for a file containing a given string (e.g. asp files).

    I realise I can use other tools to do it, but I shouldn't have to.

    I'm still using Office 2000 and it does everything I need it to. I can only assume they are trying to force Office 2003 users to upgrade by knackering their existing installation.

  35. Dave


    uhh.. I think Cameron Colley's comment may have been a smidgen tounge-in-cheek

    So here's an idea, everyone just use open office?! Don't you have to PAY for the MS not-quite-equivalent? And oo opens ms files as well as its own. Plus oo is free.. so everyone can have it, on any computer, without paying. Does this mean oo is going to be more compatible with ms-office than ms-office is?

    <*snip* *snip*, post cut down to size, try not to ramble>

  36. David Walker

    Incredible selflessness

    Locking out unsafe formats? They invented the binary format used in these files didn't they? MS keeps trying to convince everyone that they are focused on security and I applaud them for their efforts this surely demonstrates their commitment as they clearly are willing to take aim at themselves when necessary to protect my files. Hopefully in the near future they will block pc's from booting XP because of its unsafe operating system structure so that we can all be saved by Vista and Office 2007! Hooray for MS - I'm glad I have a Mac.

  37. Rob Sked

    Erm, hang on a sec . . .

    . . . . If I'm reading this and the KB article correctly, it's saying that if you use Office 2003, and patch it to SP3 . . . . you get locked out of it's own files.


    I bloody well hope that when SP3 for XP comes out, you don't re-boot and get told "This OS has been deemed unsafe, and therefore locked. Please install Linux"

    I think the bods at Microsoft have been over indulging on the Brandy & Sherry this xmas.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Lotus and Quattro too

    It's notable from the Microsoft article that Lotus and Quattro files are blocked as well (I assume from older versions). This seems a bit mean.

  39. Rogan Paneer

    When I was a lad ...

    37 posts so far, without anyone rolling out the "it's all been downhill after Word 5.1 for Mac" meme. Is this a record?

  40. Sandra Greer
    Dead Vulture

    So what else is new?

    The last version of Access that could read and write FoxPro files was Access 97, a fine product. That version of FoxPro could also be read in Excel. Then MS acquired FoxPro. Now we have an improved FoxPro that nothing in Office can read or write.

    M$ is trying to kill off good products so they can sell whatever is the latest -- we used to call that "planned obsolescence".

  41. Anonymous Coward

    various responses

    > just look at how easy it is to use for the average user!

    Yes, but not all of us are average users.

    > Office 97 is still the best of the lot

    Oh, yes, I agree. Especially with the free bookshelf reference included. Too bad Access 97 was total lemon (trust me, I have had numerous funny problems with it - for some reason a lot of my larger databases would cause Access to throw up out-of-memory errors repetitively to the point that I need to reboot my PC with the reset button after being open for a while (shutdown? would, but the start button turned into an unclickable white box along with various other parts of the screen!).

    Ditched it for PostgreSQL and been happy ever since.

  42. Starace
    Thumb Down

    @Steven Hewittt

    I would suggest this could be a major issue, it just depends if your business consists purely of chucking out new stuff all the time or if you have to occasionally go back to the archive to either support or update something you did a few years before. Or if you just value the knowledge that has been accumulated over the years.

    And it really isn't difficult to manage 'security' by validating the file contents as you go. It just takes some extra thought in the implementation; unfortunately it frequently appears that most people don't go through any 'what if' cycle in their code design but they just bang out the first thing that works with a properly formatted file and leave it at that.


    Lets say, for example, that 10 years ago I generated some documentation for a product/project. I followed all the rules and stored it away in the retrieval system along with all the drawings, code etc. etc. Any paper copies that existed may have been archived, but have probably just had the signature sheet scanned and stored (in the retrieval system) and have been shredded to save on storage.

    Then the customer returns, wanting an update to their system and/or a replacement for the hardware someone flew into the ground.

    I go back to the system, and pull all the files. I can still read and use the dxf, vhdl, C and other files are still fine. But for some reason I can't get at any of the documentation, even though it was saved in Word, and I'm trying to import it back into the latest flavour of Word... (replace Word with old/new software of your choice, this is just an example)

    Obviously you could argue that it's worth storing documents in plain text, or in multiple formats, but then you end up with all kinds of formatting and layout problems, missing content (e.g. diagrams) and other glitches. Plus they aren't the document that was signed off. Or you could scan the document and store it all as TIFs, only downsides being you can't edit the document any more and the storage requirements are usually bigger.

    (Obviously anything *really* special will be supported by the original machines for the service life of the program: it's not a problem using special files when you still have the original gear they were created on 20 years before!)

    I've had to do this sort of thing a few times and while updating the documents to the latest template can be a pain, at least I can read them, usually without having to dig out some obsolete hardware and a few old install disks from around the place.


    The other issue to consider is that depending on how update cycles are managed you might find you've gone from horribly obsolete to the latest flavour in a couple of weeks. Imagine how f*cked you'd be if documents you created a couple of months previously on your old system were suddenly unreadable.


    So in the real world formats becoming obsolete, especially in a relatively short time can be a problem. Obviously it can be managed but that is something that potentially takes a lot of thought.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    anon? do you mean...

  44. tony trolle


    loved it, only used Office 2000 cuz I picked out of a skip (2002), used publisher 98 and and mmmmm oh open/star office. Always had word 97 about until mid 2005 never had to load it again after openoffice took over.Had some free corel stuff on some systems once cuz they were free from a magazine CD's BUT word 97 alway got put on after a few uses.

  45. davcefai

    Re Steven Hewitt's Comment

    If this is typical MS fanboy logic then no wonder MS are getting away with whatever they want to.

    I have documents extending way back to 1981, the year I got my first (CP/M) computer. Guess what? Some machinery installed then is still operational. Some data gathered then can still be relevant to future projects. Some correspondence may still need to be looked up.

    I can survive MS's user-violent policies because my chaotic archiving system includes isos of the installation media. No doubt the average user who finds Windows so easy to use doesn't keep any old files. After all Joe Average formats his hard disc every 6 months as part of his virus and spyware control regime and only uses a CD writer to burn MP3s.

  46. Mat

    Has anyone picked up.

    ..that 'auto-correct' (as you type) does not work in Office SP3? - For a retard like me that is a real pain in the arse!

  47. david Silver badge

    Still lets through Word files

    Only blocks up to Word For Windows 2 files by default. -- And that was a version so few people used that they called the next version 6 to make it look like they'd been in business for a while. They don't want to block Word files - people would just reject it. Email becomes pointless if you can't use it.

    I've been following this for years, because they blocked MS Access files years ago, and without warning. Most of you don't care, but MS Access files were central to our business. The justification was pathetic - there never has been a wild MS Access virus - but what made it ridiculous was that at the time Word Macro Viruses were common, so you could see that they were just saying that as customers Access users didn't matter as much as Word users.

    That first filter was really broken - you had to be a system admin with very good MS Exchange skills to change the file settings -- but it eventually got a little easier to set. This is much better: clearly documented from the start: but I have to wonder about the usefulness of it: who would want to change the blocking level to permit Word97 and prevent Word95? That doesn't seem like a useful distinction.

    Of course MS would like you to stop using WFW 2.0, and that's the same thing we thought about Access: There were people in the company who wanted to kill the product. But that's a terrible way to run a company: I've never really forgiven them.

  48. John Chadwick

    What about our archives!

    Aside from the fact, as has been said, home users buy one version and use it for years. I can think of many companies, government departments, solicitors and so on who hold documents in old formats. You can't upgrade these documents, either because upgrading would have legal significance, or because it would cost a fortune to do it. I can think of many sorts of document that might be written, but then not looked at again for years, when something goes wrong.

    You can't actually tell, just by looking at file extentions and files dates which documents are supported and which aren't. I've written over 100 separate office documents in the last year, probably less than many, but my personal archives contain several thousands of documents in Word formats alone, I dread to think how long it would take to go through them all. Oh, and yes many document over 10 years old would still be significant today.

    Perhaps the answer is for Microsoft to produce a document reader that can only read document text and then convert if required. Why they could sell it for £500 a pop as Word Archive Pro 2008.

  49. spegru
    Gates Horns

    Missing the point?

    Msft are saying that these file are insecure and correct that these files are insecure and "They may pose a risk to you".

    Fair enough at one level you might think (especially if you dont care about future accessibility).

    But consider this: An MS file doesn't actually do anything - it needs MSOffice.

    So the 'risk' is actually from Office 2003, and what we have here is Msft cheap-skating their way out of fixing bugs!

  50. Cameron Colley


    My comment was, indeed, a little tongue-in-cheek. Can we have a sarcasm icon please, El Reg?

    As for creating documents, when I were a lad it were done like this:

    c:\text>copy con mydoc.txt






    I discovered Linux later in life, unfortunately.

  51. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    but someone is missing the point.

    90% of the world is M$ windows (or some silly high %), therefore 90% of the worlds IT software flaws can be tracked to M$ products. Linux doesn't have a need for anti virus, or mac for that matter. They exist but there isn't that much out there.

    Apple doesn't have a day a week / month set aside for updates it knows it has to make because they were so pants in the first place as to write dodgy code for a dodgy OS. A decent code on a decent platform means you don't need to then have steps like this.

    So anyone surprised by this, couple it with the need to have people upgrade (fat chance) and the fact the list of 47 extensions banned for outlook 2003 came out in SP1 and you can see the way M$ are thinking. (including Access files)

    Everyone knows about the annoying messages in outlook because they want you, the end user to decide if something is using the email instead of figuring it out.

    Pass off the problem to the end user, let them take the fall. We already have their money so "Ha ha ha ha" all the way to the bank,

    Why are people shocked with this controlling of a monopoly. The fact they are trying noce again to cover their ass and control the way the world of IT works by setting the IT standards. (.docx it's the way forwards because soon .doc won't be working)

    Use thunderbird, firefox, and OO it does the same thing. I am not a linux fanboy as I can't play the games I want but those products just work.

    I wonder if M$ people read these comments. (Apart from stephen hewitt who sounds like staff) Wonder if it enters into them that people don't actually like them as much as they believe.

  52. Tom Hawkins

    Sorry Rogan...

    ...I was on holiday.

    It's all been downhill since Word 5.1 for the Mac, you know!

  53. Bill Coleman
    Dead Vulture

    @spegru - Spot on, @El Reg - Bad hack, bad!!!

    The potential danger comes from the office execution of these files - so the problem should be solved there, not by blocking the file types, 99.99999% of which are completely valid files.

    But I will say to el reg - Bad Reg. The article is poorly disguised flame bait. Deliberately misleading naive readers to provoke the usual stream of "M$ = el diablo" responses. The article ignores the fact the execution of this security can be mitigated easily by the sys admin or by doing a quick regedit... and the MS has KB articles explaining all of this and giving clear instructions. Also that the file types blocked are largely depreciated anyway, that they are easily batch converted to newer types and that they probably should be. This is pretty irresponsible journalism there guys.

  54. N Watson
    Gates Horns

    Marketing anyone?

    Doesn't this look a little like another Microsoft way of pushing people toward Office 2007? Or should I say, away of people pushing their friends to upgrade saying 'Ooowww that software your still using isn't safe.'

  55. Aidan Thornton
    Gates Horns

    Hotmail WebDAV access

    captainslog: the feature that allowed you to access your Hotmail account from Outlook Express has been disabled for all new Hotmail accounts (and all the old ones that never used it) for years now. The official reason was that it was being used for spam. Unofficially, I think it was because it was a bit too open for Microsoft's liking; it was based on WebDAV and some third parties managed to figure out how to add support to their own mail clients and websites.

    (Some of the M$ developers had an odd liking for WebDAV at one point; IIRC, there's an e-mail from Bill out there somewhere complaining about it. Apparently, they should've been using some proprietary solution of their own devising.)

  56. Rich

    Why release the service pack then?

    Surely the point of a service pack is to close the security loopholes. Looks like MS are finally running out of money and cant afford to patch things any more so bombard us with propaganda to buy new versions. Now I know why Bill Gates is leaving. MS has a complete madman at the helm. Maybe soon Apple will have to buy shares in MS to keep them afloat.

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For Pete's Sake........

    All these comments, people whining coz they have 10 year old documents that they haven't accessed for 9 3/4 years but *might* have to.......

    Is it REALLY going to make SUCH an impact to your life?!? OOOH, OUCH....... this awful update is going to cost me 10 minutes out of the next X years of my life.....BOO HOO!!!

    You've probably spent more time writing your post and reading the others than you'll spend dealing with the oh so terrible update.

    ........course I'm sad enough to have read them too...... :-(

  59. andy rock
    Gates Horns

    RE: Realistically speaking though

    heh, Steven; you funny.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    @Steven Hewittt

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ..... are you that bitter you have been so defensive.

  61. George Johnson

    What's the problem?

    Dump MS Office and get OpenOffice and then you open your old format docs. Simple solution, helps FOSS and stops more money being fed to the big M.

    The one thing that bothers me is that MS have already locked people into their nasty little proprietry formats, they are now practically disowning them.

    The FSA auditors demand docs be kept for 7 years, so if you can't read 'em soft copy, you will have to print 'em out and condemn all those those trees to death, nice one!

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @For Pete's Sake........

    >All these comments, people whining coz they have 10 year old documents that they haven't accessed for 9 3/4 years but *might* have to.......

    I think the real issue is that some documents are required to be kept forever (for legal reasons) by some government departments - especially for Freedom of Information or Data Protection purposes. An example would be a document containing NHS Patient information (they are kept until the day you die and then archived), but no doubt there are many other examples which I can't be bothered to think about in case my brain implodes.

    My big beef about Office has always been that you know that at some point you just won't be able to access to documents easily any more (say in 20 years time). Using OO sorts out this problem, because (unlike the Office formats) they conform to an international standard. I mean, the reason you can still read .txt files on pretty much any personal computer is because of the ASCII standard - and that's what these standards do - make things usable forever (or until computers become based on some strange organic technology such as the Bacon Sandwich PC, or people stop using words and just go with whiny noises and bangs instead). Government departments have to think about this stuff (which is one of the main reasons why so many of them switch to Open Office).

  63. Ian Peters

    re: For Pete's Sake........

    You obviously dont work in a organisation such as goverment where documents are stored for longer than 10 years.

    If you can explain to us all the security implication of non-executable data file, we'll be all ears. This is security problem with MS Office itself and have probably coded themselves into a corner where they cannot fix the error.

    Apart from that, your post was so childish which indicates that can't think further than a 12 year old can until he/she grows up and gets experience of the world outside his/her own little world.

  64. Andrew Steer

    @For some bizarre reason

    Re: "XP won't search in certain file types when looking for a file containing a given string (e.g. asp files)."

    Yeah - XP by default will only search certain filetypes. Catches me out because my email is archived MH-Mail style (numeric filenames with no extensions) which it doesn't "see", and I think it doesn't search html files ... or at least not before they've been parsed.

    There is either a registry hack or a Windows Explorer option (I believe you have to temporarily turn on the Indexing Service to allow access to the option) to make it search all files. Sorry I can't remember all the details - it's far from obvious... as you'd expect from MS these days.

  65. Simon Jones

    Misleading Article?

    Yes, the update blocks access to files in some formats but not Office 2003 native formats. By default it blocks some foreign file formats and some OLD formats, PRE Office 97. Many commenters seem to have got the wrong end of the stick probably because the article could be read as saying Office 2003 could no longer open its own files.

    The blocking can be turned off or down either by editing the registry or by group policy and searching for the error message will lead you to instructions on how to do this. Perhaps it is a bit draconian but warning that a file "may be unsafe" and then allowing you to open it anyway might be thought a bit lax by some people. A case of "damned if you do and damned if you don't". Not everyone is an expert and Microsoft has to cater for those people too. It chose the "safety first" approach.

    Simon Jones

    Contributing Editor

    PC Pro Magazine

  66. Senor Beavis

    Discovery and Retention

    Is there any legal justification for non-disclosure along the lines of, "I'd love to be able to furnish you with the evidence relevant to your legal case, but unfortunately my computer is refusing to let me open the files to check whether you should be entitled to see them"?

    Answer: start archiving your word processing (etc.) software and ancient operating systems as virtual machine images

  67. PHUQUE
    Gates Horns

    Microsiht Slogan almost works!

  68. Steve

    Learn to archive properly

    Using proprietary formats is just bad practice. Use something open - it ain't rocket science, people.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "Office 2003 is less secure... "

    So why not go the whole hog, and give the user a free upgrade -- to the current Open Office !!!

  70. Bill Fresher

    It's a good thing

    I can't believe you're bashing Microsoft for this. If it stops people from attacking my PC by sending me Word for Windows 2.0 email attachments then it's a good thing.

  71. Snert Lee

    Oh, Catch a Grip, People...

    If you haven't yet converted over your Word 6 and Quattro Pro archives, then best get cracking on it. Yes, it's only been twelve years, and haste makes waste and so forth, but what's more important, maintaining backwards compatibility to the first clay tablets or installing the latest service pack?

    But what other problems might you have with that archive? CDs delaminated? Floppys degaussed? Can't find the cable with the edge connector that you need to wire up the 1.2MB FD you carefully mothballed all those years ago?


  72. Anonymous Coward

    RTF, people, RTF

    What? Can't read your own files?

    I always .rtf my WP work because "good" WPs always "READ THE FILE"

    yuk yuk yuk.

    OK... I'll get my coat...

  73. Chad Larson


    Scan the documentation to TIFF. OCR the files if you need to edit them. OmniScan/PaperPort do a decent job of that.

  74. Chad Larson

    @Bill Fresher

    I think you're missing the point, which is rather than blacklisting some three letter extensions, Microsoft should have fixed Office so it can't be hijacked by a corrupted file.

    "Validate your inputs" is like, programming 101. All those highly paid, big brain cased programmers they've got (those who haven't fled to Google, that is) and they still can't seem to get the clue.

  75. Mike

    @Ian Peters and AC (replies to For Pete's Sake)

    If you're having to access documents for 'big' companies after that amount of time, then you'll be paid for doing so. It's a task relating to your job. Unless you expect to earn a salary for sitting doing nothing, where's the gripe? Complain to your company/department for expecting technology to stand still when they made decisions 10 years ago....... can't wait to hear you complain that the records from 30 years ago are held on a big tape for the filing-cabiet sized machine gathering dust in a warehouse!

    Ian, I didn't give any indication that I know WHY or HOW to get around your problem.... frankly, because I'm so childish I'll stick my tongue out and say I don't care. By sheer co-incidence though, I was 12 back in '82 when I started computers, and even at that tender age didn't expect to be waiting 20 minutes to load a game from an audio cassette 10 years later........

    Next we'll hear you complaining that you can't get Leaded Petrol for your Morris Marina........

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Archivists' woes?

    Consider the effort of archivists who must retain permanently copies of documents created using older software. They are doomed to also maintain working copies of that older software that created those older documents, or finding a long-term document format standard such as PDF is, at the moment.

    If one can assume that this practice of making older document files obsolete continues, then the cost of maintaining archives of documents increases over time, making records retention ever more costly and making a truly permanent document format more and more valuable. This implies that the sooner we have support for long-term standard formats, the less cost for all.

  77. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh, Catch a Grip, People...

    Lotus Notes prefers that data be imported in wk4 format. Granted IBM should upgrade but it is still a pain in the arse for users for BS reasons.

  78. Anonymous Coward

    Just imagine if books were not readable after 10 years

    Do we really want a civilization based on Microsoft or on any closed and deviant corporate technology such as iphone, psp.

    We are all dead if we cannot transmit knowledge over generations.

    This problem is not a mere technical issue, it's a very serious concern maybe as much as for global heating.

    Normal people needs to take power back.

  79. N

    Office sucks

    Ive had enough of their bile!

  80. Andus McCoatover

    @snert lee

    <<but what's more important, maintaining backwards compatibility to the first clay tablets or installing the latest service pack>>

    I can still read clay tablets.

    In a couple of years the latest Service Pack won't be (latest or readable).

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    word 6/95

    I always (up to now) save word docs that I will be emailing as word 6/95, as

    a) every wp out there can read them (so far)


    b) It strips out the edit history (had an embarrasing issue with that once...)


  82. Snert Lee

    @Andus McCoatover

    I would readily believe that you can _see_ clay tablets, subject to all the normal conditions of visibility, etc.

    But can you _read_ them?

    A rather different matter where, for most of us, the media has long outlasted the ability to interpret the message.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Whats this got to do with XP SP3?

    The MS KB article pertains to OFFICE 2003 SP3 not XP SP3!!!! More MS bashing by the 'media'

  84. Daniel Beardsall
    Gates Horns


    It's all been downhill after Word 5.1 for Mac, you know.

    I still use Office 2003 from time to time, on computers that aren't my own. Funnily enough, I don't get much call to open crumbling documents such as the ones now locked out, but it still annoys me.

    And why in the hell would anyone want to switch to Office 2007? Worst attempt at an interface I've seen in... well, since Word 5.1 come to think of it. I took one look at 2007 and switched to OpenOffice.

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