Export (0) Print
Expand All

Plan for using compatibility mode in Office 2010

 

Applies to: Office 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-08-05

Although standardizing on the Microsoft Open XML file format is the best way to minimize compatibility issues, this goal can be difficult to achieve for organizations that plan to deploy Microsoft Office 2010 over a period of months or years. Even after the migration is complete, users might continue to collaborate with partners, customers, and other organizations that use earlier versions of Office. To help users maintain productivity during all phases of an Office 2010 migration, you can let users continue to work in the 97-2003 binary file format (*.doc, *.xls, and *.ppt) and use the compatibility features that are included with Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, and Microsoft Word 2010.

In this article:

When planning a migration to Office 2010, you face the challenge of not only determining which versions of Office documents are being used in your organization, but also assessing how those documents will function when users open and save them by using different versions of Office. Your task can be even more challenging if you are performing this assessment for millions of documents of varying complexity, age, and history.

Nevertheless, in the middle of planning an Office migration, it is easy to forget that converting Office 2003 and earlier binary files to the Open XML format is not a strict requirement of Office 2010 migration. Organizations that do not have a strong business requirement to convert binary files to the Open XML format can skip the bulk conversion process completely. They can let users edit binary files in compatibility mode, which is enabled automatically when a user opens a binary file in Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, or Word 2010. Compatibility mode disables certain features that are exclusive to these applications in Office 2010 so that the binary files remain compatible with previous versions of Office.

The disadvantage of using compatibility mode is that Office 2010 users cannot use the full feature set of Office 2010. Users who need full Office 2010 functionality can create new Office documents in Open XML format, or convert existing binary files to Open XML while they edit them. To edit Open XML files after the files are created or converted to the Open XML format, users of Office 2003 or earlier versions of Office must have the Compatibility Pack installed. More details about the Compatibility Pack are provided in Preparing Office 2010 users for using compatibility features, later in this article.

Reviewing a simple list of document management characteristics can help you decide whether using compatibility features in Office 2010 is sufficient for your organization. For example, if your organization does not use extensive document management policies or systems, you may not have to spend time identifying Office documents to convert and you may not need to perform a conversion. You might also find that business groups in your organization have different requirements, some of which can only be met by conversion, and other requirements that can be satisfied by using the compatibility features.

The following considerations will help you decide whether to pursue compatibility, conversion, or both.

Compatibility is the better strategy if your organization or business group:

  • Relies on end-users to troubleshoot issues with their own Office documents.

  • Does not have business justification for converting binary files to Open XML format.

  • Is not adversely affected by feature differences that occur when compatibility mode is used.

Conversion is the better strategy if your organization or business group:

  • Uses document management products and understands the location and kind of Office documents that are managed by those products.

  • Manages documents by using retention, compliance, information rights management, or auditing policies.

  • Needs conversion to Open XML format as a business justification for migrating to Office 2010.

  • Supports Office documents through a Help Desk or IT department.

The instructions in the remainder of this article will help you prepare to work in compatibility mode. However, if your organization chooses conversion as its strategy, you can conduct the assessment and conversion of binary Office files by using the Office 2010 Migration Planning Manager (OMPM), which is available on the Microsoft Download Center. For more information, see Plan for document conversion in Office 2010 and Office Migration Planning Manager overview for Office 2010

If you need guidance on assessing the compatibility of Office add-ins and applications, see Office 2010 application compatibility guide.

As part of your overall Office 2010 training plan, you should provide guidance to users on how to use compatibility mode. Topics to cover include the features that are disabled in compatibility mode, the visual clues that indicate that compatibility mode is being used, and, if using Open XML is supported by their business group, how to exit compatibility mode by converting files to Open XML format.

The following table provides links to information that you can use to prepare users for working in compatibility mode.

 

Functionality Excel 2010 PowerPoint 2010 Word 2010

Enabling compatibility mode

Work in compatibility mode in Excel 2010 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196420)

Features are lost when you open a presentation created in an earlier version of PowerPoint(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=207536&clcid=0x409)

Use Word 2010 to open documents created in earlier versions of Word (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196421)

Create a document to be used by previous versions of Word (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196422)

Feature differences when compatibility mode is used

Excel 2010 features that are not supported in earlier versions of Excel (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196436)

Features are lost when you open a presentation created in an earlier version of PowerPoint(http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=207536&clcid=0x409)

Feature availability in each mode (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196437)

Converting files to Office 2010 format (exiting compatibility mode)

Convert a workbook to the Excel 2010 file format (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196423)

Convert a PowerPoint presentation from a previous version to PowerPoint 2010 (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196424)

Convert a document to the Word 2010 mode (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196425)

Office 2010 users who create or edit files in the Open XML format can convert the files to binary format by using the Save As command and selecting the appropriate 97-2003 format ( .doc, .ppt, or .xls). Compatibility Checker will alert the users to any content in the file that is not supported by earlier versions of the application. If you expect this to be a common scenario, you can also provide guidance on how to use Compatibility Checker. See the articles listed in the following table:

 

Functionality Excel 2010 PowerPoint 2010 Word 2010

Running Compatibility checker

Check an Excel 2010 workbook for compatibility with earlier versions of Excel (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=196429)

Determine whether a PowerPoint 2010 presentation is compatible with PowerPoint 2003 or earlier (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196430)

Compatibility Checker (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196431)

Compatibility changes between versions (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=196432)

If your Office 2010 users will be creating new files in the Open XML format, you must deploy the Compatibility Pack to users who will use Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003 to edit files. The Compatibility Pack is not required for the 2007 Office system with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or later versions. To download the Compatibility Pack, visit the Microsoft Download Center (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=191166).

For links to additional reference topics about compatibility features, see Document compatibility reference for Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, and Word 2010.

By using the Office Customization Tool (OCT) and Group Policy, you can configure Office to save new Office documents in binary (97-2003) format instead of Open XML, the default file format. Changing the default file format is useful if you have business reasons that require users to continue to create new files in binary format. In addition to settings for default file format, there are also settings to configure how Word 2010 saves Open XML files to make them compatible with Word 2007 and Word 2003.

The following table describes the location of some file format options in the Group Policy Administrative Template files (ADM, ADMX, ADML) and the OCT for Office 2010. You can find a full list of settings related to file formats in Group Policy and Office Customization Tool settings in Office 2010 for OpenDocument and Office Open XML formats.

 

Setting Application Location in OCT and Group Policy Default setting Compatibility setting

Default file format

Excel 2010

Microsoft Excel 2010\Excel Options\Save

Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)

Excel 97-2003 Workbook (*.xls)

PowerPoint 2010

Microsoft PowerPoint 2010\PowerPoint Options\Save

PowerPoint Presentation (*.pptx)

PowerPoint 97-2003 Presentation (*.ppt)

Word 2010

Microsoft Word 2010\Word Options\Save

Word Document (*.docx)

Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)

Set default compatibility mode on file creation

Word 2010

Microsoft Word 2010\Word Options\Save

Full functionality mode

Word 2007 mode or Word 2003 mode

Save As Open XML in compatibility mode

Word 2010

Microsoft Word 2010\Word Options\Save

Disabled; users can decide whether a converted file is compatible with previous versions of Word

Enabled; converted files are always compatible with previous versions of Word

To download the OCT, the Group Policy Administrative Templates, and a workbook that provides information about Office 2010 Group Policy settings and OCT settings, see Office 2010 Administrative Template files (ADM, ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkID=189316).

The following sections provide more details about these settings.

Although we recommend leaving the default set to Open XML, you can change the default to binary format if there are business reasons that require users to continue to work in binary files. For example, if you are performing a phased migration of Office 2010 and have not yet deployed the Compatibility Pack, you will want Office 2010 users to continue to create and work in binary files so that users of Office 2003 or earlier can edit the files. When your deployment is complete, we recommend changing back to the default so that all newly created files use the Open XML format.

This policy setting lets you specify the versions of Word (2003, 2007, or 2010) that you want new Word documents in Open XML format to be compatible with. Three configurations options are available for this setting:

  • Word 2003: This mode disables features in Word that are incompatible with Word 2003.

  • Word 2007: This mode disables features in Word that are incompatible with Word 2007.

  • Full functionality mode: This mode ensures that all new features remain enabled. This is the default setting for Word.

Selecting the Word 2003 option configures Word to create new Open XML files that have Word 2007 and Word 2010 features disabled. Doing so ensures that the Open XML files do not contain content that Word 2003 users cannot edit. However, users of Office 2003 and earlier must still have the Compatibility Pack installed before they can edit Word Open XML files that are compatible with Word 2003.

If you select Full functionality mode, there is no effect on the Word 2007 users. Word 2007 can open and edit Word 2010 documents. The only difference is that new features in Word 2010 are not available in Word 2007.

When a user uses the Save As command to convert a binary file to the Open XML format, the user has the option of selecting the Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word check box. When users select this check box, the newly converted document is compatible with Word 2007. Features that are exclusive to Word 2010 are disabled. The user then edits the document in Word 2007 compatibility mode.

When you enable this policy, the Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word check box is selected and hidden, and Word 2010 will always save the file so that it is compatible with Word 2007.

Office binary files are susceptible to file format attacks that exploit the integrity of a file. These attacks occur when someone who intends to add malicious code modifies the structure of a file. The malicious code is run remotely and is used to elevate the privilege of restricted accounts on the computer. As a result, attackers could gain access to a computer that they did not previously have access to. This could enable an attacker to read sensitive information from the computer’s hard disk drive or to install malware, such as a worm or a key logging program.

Office 2010 includes new features to make viewing and editing binary files safer. Each of these features has settings that you should consider as part of your deployment planning. The following sections provide brief descriptions of these features, their planning considerations, and links to more information.

Office File Validation is a new security feature in Office 2010 that helps prevent file format attacks by scanning Office binary file formats before they are opened in Word 2010, Excel 2010, or PowerPoint 2010. To validate files, Office File Validation compares a file’s structure to a predefined file schema, which is a set of rules that determine what a readable file looks like. If Office File Validation detects that a file’s structure does not follow all rules described in the schema, the file does not pass validation.

Any files that fail validation are opened in Protected View. Users can decide to enable editing for files that fail validation but are opened in Protected View. Users are also prompted to send Office File Validation information to Microsoft. Information is collected only for files that fail validation.

Office 2010 provides several settings that let you configure how the Office File Validation feature behaves. These settings let you do the following:

  • Disable Office File Validation.

  • Specify Office file behavior when a file fails validation.

  • Prevent Office 2010 from sending Office File Validation information to Microsoft.

Although we recommend that you do not change the default settings for Office File Validation, your organization might have to configure Office File Validation settings to suit special security requirements. For more information, see Plan Office File Validation settings for Office 2010.

Protected View is a new security feature in Office 2010 that helps mitigate exploits to users’ computers by opening files in a restricted environment so they can be examined before they are opened for editing in Word 2010, Excel 2010, and PowerPoint 2010. When a file is opened in Protected View, users can view the file content but they cannot edit, save, or print the file content. Active file content, such as ActiveX controls, add-ins, database connections, hyperlinks, and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros, is not enabled. Users can copy content from the file and paste it into another file. In addition, Protected View prevents users from viewing the details of digital signatures that are used to sign a document, presentation, or workbook.

By default, Protected View is enabled in Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, and Word 2010. However, files open in Protected View only under certain conditions. In some cases, files bypass Protected View and are opened for editing. For example, files that are opened from trusted locations and files that are trusted documents bypass several security checks and are not opened in Protected View.

We recommend that you do not change the default behavior of Protected View. Protected View is an important part of the layered defense strategy in Office 2010. It works with other security features such as Office File Validation and File Block. However, we recognize that your organization might have to change Protected View settings to suit special security requirements. To that end, Office 2010 provides several settings that let you configure how the Protected View feature behaves. You can use these settings to do the following:

  • Prevent files that are downloaded from the Internet from opening in Protected View.

  • Prevent files that are stored in unsafe locations from opening in Protected View.

  • Prevent attachments opened in Microsoft Outlook 2010 from opening in Protected View.

  • Add locations to the list of unsafe locations.

For more information about how to configure Protected View, see Plan Protected View settings for Office 2010.

Show:
© 2014 Microsoft