For god’s sake Microsoft, support your own file formats

The other day, a nice man at Microsoft sent me an interesting document in Microsoft Word format. I couldn’t open it, because I’m using Microsoft Word on the Mac. He’s on Office 2007, I’m on Office 2004. Office 2004 no likey Office 2007 files.

Dear Mr Microsoft, I replied. Thanks for the file. Any chance I could have it in a format that works with, er, Microsoft Office?

Now, I’m no Microsoft hater, I actually like Office:Mac – I prefer working in Word:Mac to working in any other word processor – and I appreciate that the Mac BU has its work cut out finishing off Office 2008. But Office 2007 has been out since January, the Mac BU promised to ship Mac converters in March or April, and it’s now May. Where’s my sodding .docx converters? It can’t be that difficult, because there are plenty of online converters that will take a .docx and turn it into basic RTF. So where are the official ones?

The lack of converters is really annoying, because when it comes to operating systems I swing both ways, baby. PCs are running Vista and Office 2007, among other things. Macs are running Office 2004. I frequently work on one and then transfer to the other, and even more frequently I’ll be working in 2007 and forget to save the file in the old Office format.  And then I call Microsoft very nasty names.

There are two issues here. One, if you promise to ship something on X date and then don’t, it annoys the crap out of your customers – particularly if you don’t pop up and go “hey! Sorry! Here’s what’s happening!”. And two, if you introduce a new file format, it’s a good idea to make sure all your other software actually supports it.