back to article MPs lost for Word over creaking Microsoft packages

MPs have logged a massive support call with Microsoft after they ended up at the wrong end of the tech world's fitful migration to Office 2007. Meanwhile Westminster’s hapless Web 2.0 foray continued this week with politicians lobbying to place clips of themselves in the House of Commons on YouTube. Microsoft is working with …


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  1. Joel

    Of course....

    ...if they installed Open Office 3.0, then they would be able to open the Office 2007 documents.

  2. JS Greenwood
    Paris Hilton

    The Office Compatibility Pack...

    ... has been out for over a year.


    Paris, because her orifice is compatible.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean

    That Parliament's IT department can't figure out how to download and install an update from the Microsoft website? Hell, maybe even go all out and add it to a GPO.

    Maybe they should be taught about the wonders of Google?

  4. Adam


    I hear openoffice can open docx files these days, I'm sure it's the first solution Microsoft brought to the table.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a Microsoft fan, but ...

    Not a Microsoft fan, but anything which slows down the movement of business through parliament must be a good thing.

    I still think it would be better if they expected MPs to have a day job, and only sat in the evenings.

  6. Kevin Bailey


    May be the MP's will understand our real concerns over proprietary formats at last!

    They should standardise on anyway to stop wasting tax payers money on poor quality Microsoft products

  7. Wize

    The logged a support call?

    I know what the answer will be.

    Either save as the old version in Word 2007, or install the 2003 plug in to read the newer files.

    Log closed.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Call me stupid...

    ... but surely someone realised this before carrying out the upgrade which left the MPs "behind" sitting on Office 2003?

    So what was the technical argument for upgrading people to 2007?

    Of course we know backwards compatibility is something that Microsoft ignored because its only by forcing people to upgrade that they get any income.

    Time to slap some wrists and find out just how much this mess is costing the tax payer - but its probably "Confidential" or "Commercial in Confidence" i.e. "They well and truly ripped us off but we don't want to admit it".

    Mines the one with a copy of Open Office in the pocket.

  9. Martin Gregorie

    One word....


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Poetic justice.

    Feckers. Now maybe they understand why accepting inducements from uncle Bill to help him bury a proper document standard might be a bad idea. Instant Karma's gonna getcha, baby.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Office 2007 :(

    "MPs have logged a massive support call with Microsoft after they ended up at the wrong end of the tech world's fitful migration to Office 2007."

    Yes I can imagine this will be driving them barking mad. The first step of learning is to understand that not everyone has Office 2007. So the saving of any Word document should be done in save as - Word 2007-2003 otherwise 80% of your documents will be bounced back at you with a WTF??? Half the people I send this to think i'm on a friggen MAC.

    The next problems they will be faced with are fairly obvious ones, Where is? Where is? Where is? Where is??? Where is??? Save/undo/format/kill/die/f*ck/hate/this/sh*t

    Why did they take a perfectly good format, one people have gotten used to using for a decade, and change it?


  12. Nick Palmer


    PICT can just install the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack - ?

  13. jscott
    Thumb Down

    2007/2003 Compatibility

    What's the problem with the Office migration then? Their IT staff needs some training in how to RTFM.

  14. Anonymous John


    Microsoft has a free Office Compatibility Pack that will do that.

  15. andy gibson

    Like the Government

    We also had the same problems opening .DOCX rubbish that were also “resolved in conjunction with Microsoft”.

    It meant downloading and installing the compatibility pack.

  16. Joseph Haig

    Word 2007 documents

    Simple solution; Tell everyone not to save documents in docx format.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Yet another example of the "Special Relationship"

    Yes, indeed. The government jumps into bed with the Merkans, then we get shafted. Not much change there.

  18. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    "will be resolved in conjunction with Microsoft"

    Who will doubtless flog them a zillion more copies of Office 2007, rather than the free reader or a conversion tool...

    Given the lack of money for everyone who isn't a bank, perhaps now would be a good time for the Civil Service to switch to Open Office.

  19. The BigYin
    Thumb Down


    Try the MS Office reader.

    Or ask for them in the older format.

    Or a portable format such as PDF.

    Or upgrade.

    Or install something else that can read DOCX and/or demand that that's standard format be used instead (*cou*OpenOffice*gh*)

    (Assuming they don't use tonnes of macros and other crap)

  20. Bill Gould
    Gates Halo

    Word 07

    I blame their in house techs for not configuring the default to save in a 2000-2003 format. Can the one that was in charge of the migration. It's freaking Office for crying out loud.

  21. Steven
    IT Angle


    Office 2007 compatability pack anyone???

    Step 1: Download from Microshaft website.

    Step 2: Add to Group Policy install.

    Step 3: Cup of tea.

    Where exactly is their problem? Why are Microsoft working with them for a fix when there's been one around since just after Office 07 was released? Am I missing something???

    Paris Hilton

    Open Office

    I'm pretty sure that by now about 200 commentards will have mentioned open office.

    To all who have... STFU they're MPs. Government policy = if it costs lots of money and does not deliver on it's promises then it's what they use otherwise no deal. IMHO It's the reason they have PRINCE2.

    Paris because it's been a long week and I need someone to make me smile. Bill G doesn't.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Try - but fail!

    There are loads of company's out their broadcasting local councils and central government on the web and are the two best know but typically as with office 2003/2007 problem which can be sorted with a Microsoft add-on you can't fix all councils that use Real and Windows Media player because that don't want it "reused" so if they are going to embrace web 2.0, Drop the DRM go Flash so (so we don't have to install glorified spyware (Realplayer), Share and embrace it.

  24. Peter Jones

    Why not...

    just make the compatibility pack for 2000, 2002 and 2003 an update available through AU? It seems stupid that the first time most people know it exists is when they run into this problem.

  25. Steven Raith

    Office 2007 on 2003

    I'm not sure what the problem is - all you need to do is GPO or SMS the Office 2007 compatibility pack for Office 2003 out to all machines in the relevant OU.

    I was planning to do this to about 1000PCs some months ago before changing jobs and not having to worry about it - so I admit I haven't done it.

    But unless I have missed something here, it doesn't look like that much work - why the fuss?

    Steven R

  26. Avi

    Well, that'd be a first...

    "the lack of compatibility “will be resolved in conjunction with Microsoft”"

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    MPs want their yea's and nays (and snoring) putting onto YouTube?

    Did they steal the idea from Presidential Candidate Paris Hilton?

  28. Ted Treen


    Your footnote says "Free Paper - A Practical Guide To Disaster Recovery Planning"

    Could I ask if the Disaster refers to MS, MPs or both?

  29. Andrew Barr

    There is a free download

    Why don't they just download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack?

    Just in case there are any PICT employees reading the register instead of working on the problem here is the link to the free download:

    Darn, maybe I should have rang them up as a contractor, and charged them millions, only to go over budget and taken as long as it take for the next version of office to come out!!

    Mines the one with the software assurance license in my pocket

  30. Anonymous Coward

    "MPs lost for Word"

    Marvellous! :-)

  31. Nano nano

    I should be so lucky ...

    "Web 2.0-stylie" - another of the Minogue sisters ?

  32. Natalie Gritpants
    Thumb Up

    Good job Microsoft

    Please make it so that our leaders are stuck, unable to make things worse for as long as possible.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Long running support ticket?

    Step 1) Install the following:

    Step 2) ... errrr there isn't a step two.

    How these people justify their salaries is beyond me, this shouldn't even be on the news because it should have been fixed before we heard about it.

  34. Nic Brough
    Paris Hilton


    Why aren't they using an open standard?

    FFS, I'm not anti-MS, but there is no excuse for a government to be using proprietary standards - they are supposed to be running my country on my behalf, so that data is mine, and I want a guarantee that it will be readable without resorting to proprietary software to read it. Even if it's secured, confidential, or hidden for whatever reason (there's a long debate to be had there!), it shouldn't be inaccessible just because it's held in wubble-46 format and someone lost the last machine that could read it. </rant>

    Tux, cos he's Open Source and I can't be bothered comparing MPs to Paris, her decision making is so much better than theirs.

  35. Vince

    Another trivial issue that EDS or similar can charge £m's for....

    Install the compatibility pack, go back to sleep? Just how hard is it for the gov monkeys to do that?

    Oh wait, stupid question.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I won't make the obvious comment about Open Office currently supporting the new formats, and just say that Microsoft have had a free download to add the compatibility to Office 2003 since at least the middle of 2007

  37. Anonymous Coward

    MPs on YouTube?

    They already have their own TV channel on the Beeb which is dull enough.

  38. Neil Greatorex


    The question that should be asked is why are they using windows/office anyway? Why are they spending taxpayers money supporting Microsoft?.

    Somewhere (possibly here) I read that Microsoft hoovers over 2 billion squids a year, directly out of the British economy, from licence fees for Windows/Office alone.

    Before you start SHOUTING, this is nothing to do with how many people are employed supporting/selling/stitching people up with this crap, that's a separate issue entirely.

    Stop it, stop it now I tell you.

  39. Nano nano

    Office 97

    Still works - what's wrong with it ?

  40. Anton Geijsendorpher
    Gates Horns


    Microsoft's only interest in compatibility is their hand in our pockets.

    Why is it impossible for the biggest (and richest) software company in the world to make their software versions backwards compatible?

    (not to mention the problems I have opening up the documents my wife creates on her mac running Office X)

    Why do we need to be forced to use a 2nd standard which is blatantly inferior to the existing one?


  41. Tom

    About time people realised

    that for people who work in offices Office software is the last thing they should use.

  42. Nanki Poo
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft Crapability Pack

    Those pointing out the ease of installing the compatibility pack are missing an essential element... how contracting may work.

    My guess is that this would count as a software upgrade/installation. The in-house techs probably do not have the authorisation/permissions to do software upgrades (though the DBAs are free to cram as much data as humanly possible onto a CD and frisbee it out of the window)

    So they have to pass it to some element of CapitaRipoffAndersenPrice for the installation. Of course as we all know these 'consultants' do very little. "ooo, a software upgrade... could we get sued if it goes wrong? Better call MS, we'll charge their costs plus ours back, and they have the liability exposure!"

    A slightly different scenario but recently I worked in the production department for a large local newspaper network. On print night, around 10pm we would always come across some docx format advert to be set. No admin rights to install comp pack, IT never installed it, no IT at night, luckily I used my brain and found an online converter.

    Yeah, the sales person could have saved in a different format. we even asked her to. But for reasons best known to her...

    Bill, cos salespeople suck.


  43. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Time for an upgrade

    MP's on YouTube? No thanks, I've had enough of the windbags to last me a half-lifetime (thanks to the recent by-election). Confine them to the odd news/current-affairs item and the dedicated "Parliment" channel.

    Office 2007 issues? Quick someone - dive in and offer them a global license for OpenOffice 3.0 for a good fee! It's certainly a heck of lot less confusing than 'real' Office 2007 - what cretinous deci-wit in MS came up with the idea of shipping a completely new UI with no chance to revert to the old one, (which worked fine - imho). I'm with the "Office 2007 :(" poster on this one ...

    Windows ad line: "What do you want to do today?"

    Office ad line: "where have we hidden what you want to do today?" (suggested)

    Oh, and OO is cross platform, cheaper (isn't it?) and probably faster. >-(

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To everyone posting about open standards

    OOXML IS an open standard. It just happened to be developed by Microsoft.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    There really are some idiots posting here

    Install Open Office? Two points, the first is the reason they are having the problem is due to them being too slow in rolling out 2007. Some people have it some dont hence the problem. Why go to the bother of installing a different application on everyones PC when they only have to finish installing 2007 on PC's they havent done yet. And as most of these rollouts are done after hours the open office route would cost the tax payer even more money.

    Second point, if they have to phone microsoft because downloading a simple MSI and installing that is too technical how on earth do you expect them to find Open Office. They obviously cant use google (as they would of found the solution to the 2007 problem), doesnt go to the open office website and PC World dont sell it

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @open standards

    that is probably the reason for the upgrade, noone would trust an mp to use something new like openoffice. so it probably had to be office 2007 with its nice open* file format

    *obviously not a standard definition of the word

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sic 'em

    “Members’ email boxes [sic]”

    Sorry, am I missing something here?

  48. Nick Ryan Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Compatibility pack? Why?

    Compatibility pack? Why? Couple of alternatives...

    Just use group policy - that's what its there for forbid the creation of documents in the fecking useless docx, xlsx, and other "x" formats. There is NOTHING new in Office 2007 that any normal user will appreciate or use, instead they'll just hate the inane pizza icon, the huge user interface (1024x768 is still the most common screen size), the dumb-arse hiding of commonly required functions and the utter uselessness of the "help". Still, at least there's no "paperclip" to patronise you this time. This way you'll at least remain compatible with anybody else in the world who has yet to be force-upgraded to the latest bloated version.

    The downside of this is because the utter fucktard cretins at MS have decided the MS Office (just an application) is more important than and embeds itself into, the operating system, suspend functions on a laptop will be broken unless you close every fecking Office 2007 application prior to close the lid of the laptop. The reason behind this? A pathetic nag message to tell you that it couldn't auto-save in the docx format as it was forbidden... and where's the option to tell auto-save to save in a useful format? There is none of course.

    If you must use MS Office "because nothing else works", just install Office 2000 as it doesn't have compatibity problems with everybody else and doesn't suffer from a product activation scheme. Just make sure that you have licences for OfficeBloat 2007 and should MS complain just ask them nicely to swivel.

    Alternatively, just as other posters have suggested - use OpenOffice. Compared to the shite that is Office 2007, most users love it in comparison.

  49. Sim
    Gates Horns

    uninstall office 2007

    reinstall office 2003

    I had to do this this week for one of my clients who was appalled by word 2007 but not willing to use open office

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Open orifice

    Yeah, just install OpenOffice. After, there can't be anything wrong with a reverse-engineered copy of Office 97, can there?

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Heh heh!

    Should've gone for Mac's.

    Desktop computer, laptop, iPhone with multiple email addresses all working well with mobileme, Pages instead of MSO 2007. The only think missing is a desktop phone that is as good as an iPhone and the MPs would probably be sitting a lot easier?

  52. Tom Paine

    Enforcing compatability

    "Tell them not to use Word 2007"? What, every constituent, in every constituency? Some commentards seem not to have realised that the Ways and Means Comittee doesn't yet control what software PC World bundle on their granny-and-the-kids packages... this is correspondence from the general public and all the various companies, NGOs, 419ers et al who try to talk to our parliamentary reps.

    Piracy ahoy, because - oh, who needs a reason? It's Thursday.

  53. Doug Glass

    And Some Wonder Why ....

    ... Linux is so slow to be adopted by the world+dog. The total non geeky fix here is to install the compatibility pack and then double click on the Word 2007 file. And yet this appears to be worlds beyond the "common" man.

    Is there really any doubt why Linux, with its terminal this and terminal that, is not the OS of choice? Hell, if it takes a village to install the compat pack Linux usage is not just a world away, it's in a whole 'nother reality.

  54. Robin
    Thumb Down

    Surely they could just...

    Can I be the <strike>first</strike> gazillionth person to suggest that "they can download the blah blah from blah.blahblah.blah/blah" ?

    People whining about other people not RTFM'ing should RTFC before posting another one.

    Just sayin' like!


  55. R Callan

    To RE: everyone posting about open standards

    The MSOffice 2007 file format is NOT ISO/IEC 29500! It may have started out that way but at the BRM there were more than 1000 changes made. (I will ignore the furore that the passing of this "standard" created).

    MS themselves are going to fully support ODF (ISO/IEC 25600) before supporting their own "standard". There is currently no timeline published by MS as to when, if ever, they will support ISO/IEC 29500.

  56. Vladimir

    why use M$: others are cross-compatible

    I don't get the blind rush to use M$ Office. It's version compatibility issues have been problematic in every new release.

    WordPerfect opened Word documents (all versions) better than M$ Word opened its own older versions.

    I miss WP, but use OpenOffice rather than try to run WP in wine or an old linux package of WP6.

    OpenOffice has all the bells needed, and no compatibility issues with its own past versions...or inability (refusal) to open other vendors' proprietary nonsense.

  57. Vincent Ballard

    Who's sending the documents?

    @Nanki Poo: it may well not be a different scenario. It isn't entirely clear from the article whether the source of the docx documents is a subset of the civil service or ordinary people / businesses responding to what the government likes to call "consultations".

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @R Callan

    I said that OOXML is an open standard, which it is. ISO/IEC 29500 is "substantially supported" on Office 2007, and the link above implies that it will be fully supported come the next version of Office.

  59. michael

    compatibility pack

    dose not allways work there have been lots of docs here that do not comatibility properley

  60. NB


    This a great example of why all government agencies should be directed to use real open standards.

    Ah well, they're politicians so I don't suppose we can expect much in the way of rationality...

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well I'm in the private sector...

    ...and our IT people haven't installed the compatibility pack yet. Meaning that when someone sent me docx files the other day, my work PC couldn't handle them - meanwhile my Mac at home, without Office, opened them up just fine in TextEdit...

  62. david

    How many civil servants does it take to install the compatability pack?

    None, they have to ask FujEDSCap to mess it up for them.

    Arguing about who pays for Change Request :10,000GBP

    Getting a consultant to phrase the change request so the supplier can't wriggle out of it without doing all the work: 5,000GBP

    Impact analysis: 20,000GBP

    Adding it to AU and updating policy : 200GBP

    Testing and Acceptence: 10,000GBP

    Watching the pigs at the trough: Priceless

  63. Huw Davies


    Eh? Can we have that in English?

    We've not had any problems here with the Compatibility Pack. Is there anything specific that's causing you grief?

    Curious minds need to know :D

  64. Neil Greatorex

    @AC 09:04 - Microsoft shill

    Quote: "ISO/IEC 29500 is "substantially supported" on Office 2007"

    Is it bollocks.

    It's not now, and never will be, supported by Microsoft Office.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Standards, Dear Boy, Standards

    If all else fails the Parliamentarians - or their hapless IT outfit - could always use "a set of policies and standards to enable information to flow seamlessly across the public sector and provide citizens and businesses with better access to public services." I quote from e-GIF, of course, the mandatory Government standards: "The e-GIF first came into force when Version 1 was announced in the House of Commons in 2000." No wonder nobody knows about it.

    It's up to version 6.2 now and deals pragmatically, if not always to purists' satisfaction, with prorietary formats and the interchange of information. Thus, for WP documents, the interchange formats are (and again I quote from the Government's own standards):

    Rich Text Format as (.rtf) files

    Plain/Formatted Text as (.txt) files

    Hypertext documents as (.htm) files 01

    Acrobat (.pdf) viewer minimum version 4

    Word (.doc) viewer/reader for Windows XP, Windows 2000,, Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows NT, with minimum support for Word97 format

    Lotus Notes Web Access (.nsf)

    Multimedia Message formats (.mht), see IETF RFC 2557 for further information

    Other file formats may be used in addition to the above list, provided they meet the technical policy for document handling defined in the e-GIF.

    end quote.

    So if it's anything else, like .docx, and you haven't the tools to read it, send it back and tell the sender to conform to e-GIF. Everything else is just faff.

    .....and if you don't agree with the standards, get in touch with your Parliamentarian and lobby him, or her, to have it changed. But make sure you use a format that can be read.

    IT logo as obviously neither they nor their service provider have a clue about it.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Creaking Microsoft Packages

    Anyone seen the MI5 homepage lately? It says they are looking for skilled computer personal and network technicians to join the Security Services.. Take a long hard look at what the site's running on.. Microsoft IIS 5.0.. I don't doubt it that they need professional help, they need it fast from what I can see... Is that what you meant by Creaking Packages?

  67. Pat

    I don't want to get too technical

    ...but have they tried switching their PCs off and then on again?

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