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What is the difference between using an Office Viewer and using the Office Compatibility Pack ? Then what is Office Compatibility Mode?

Simply put - Office Viewers can be downloaded to open, view and print Office 2000/XP/2003 files.  So if you are working on a document and decide to email a copy of it to someone who does not have Office at all?  The answer for them is an Office Viewer. 

But what if you are working in the latest Office 2007 release and decide to share your document with another colleague who hasn’t set up their box with the newest version yet?  They are still working in an older release.  What to do?   Well, there are two options:

You can use Save As to save the document to a 97-2003 version. On first save, Compatibility Mode will alert you of any items that won’t render properly in earlier versions, if any, and block incompatible functions in the future.


You can have the person working in XP/2003 download the free Office Compatibility pack in order to  open, edit and save the file.

Office Compatibility Mode automatically starts when you use Office 2007 and open a document created in a previous version of Office.

The Office Compatibility Pack contains viewers and converters so that people working in Office XP/2003 can open, edit and save files in the Office 2007 file formats.

A few things to note are the enhanced features that might not operate the same in Office 2007 when opened in an earlier version. Check out some of those features for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

For a detailed list of features impacted by compatibility mode, check out the following article:

Comments (3)

  1. The Office Compatibility Pack is for Office XP and 2003 to allow opening, editing, and saving files in Office 2007 file formats. This article was updated to make it more clear. Thank you for your comment–everyone’s comments help us to make our content better!

  2. Sam Moreira says:

    Is the Office Compatibility Pack to be installed on the source or target machine?

    I was under the impression that users who didn’t have Office 2007, could install the pack and automatically open Office 2007 documents.

    Your comment on the fourth paragraph about OCP wizard kicking in when saving the document leads me to think otherwise.

    If OCP targets Office 2007, is there any other pack/tool that’s to be installed on Office XP/2003?


  3. Pravin Patel says:

    each time i open office2007. i get the message windows configuring.

    How can I fix this issue.


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