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Doug's Mailbag: .DOCX Games, More

Microsoft is trying to push users of older browsers to IE 8, but as Andy found out, that's easier said than done:

We are currently using IE 7 because our accounting software, made by Microsoft, doesn't support IE 8. The software doesn't support .NET 3.5 SP1, either.

Maybe Microsoft should get all of its own software compliant before it worries about helping others.

The recent ruling against Microsoft to block Word sales in the U.S. led Doug to a discussion about .DOC vs. .DOCX. Readers share which side they fall on in the document format battle:

.DOC! I save in .DOC for compatibility among my PCs and others that I have to work with on projects, etc.

.DOCX is smaller, but I still prefer .DOC as it is more universal. I still use 2003 (we talked about the hated ribbon last week, didn't we?), so I run the compatibility pack. I do not see any logical reason to change.

.DOCX saves space over .DOC. Just one of those things.

I love the new format; it is smaller and works well. .DOC is a fine format, but the same could be said of the old Lotus 1-2-3 formats that have gone by the wayside. Move on and use the new formats.

I hate Word 2007 -- both the .DOCX format and the fact that there's no drop-down menu like in 2003.

Most of the people in my company are still using Office 2003 so I stay with .DOC. It works, so why change and confuse everyone?

The .DOC format is universal. Not sure what the value of an XML-based format is to non-programmers. Microsoft loves to make things more complicated for its users. Look how much more difficult it is to manage a SQL 2008 system than a SQL 2000 system.

But a couple of readers are curious about the dispute's broader implications:

.DOCX is smaller but is it better? Dunno. My question is: How does this judicial decision affect the business users of Word? Or did the judge simply ignore business/economics as is typical of the judiciary? Is this gonna cause a major headache for IT shops? Be nice to get a heads up on that.

The bigger issue here is not .DOCX. It's that the court did not invalidate the patent for a company that is trying to patent the use of XML for a specific purpose, in this case representation of a document. It's the equivalent of requiring that all document formats must either be proprietary, or you'll have to pay a licensing fee to the first company to patent the use of the standard format. It's absurd!

More letters coming on Friday! Meanwhile, share your own thoughts by commenting below or sending an e-mail to

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/19/2009 at 1:17 PM


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