“They trusted us with their data? Will the fools never learn?”
The Service Pack 3 update to Office 2003 blocks over a dozen old file formats, effectively rendering the data inaccessible. Unless you are adept at the registry editing Microsoft cautions you against.

And they don’t warn you that you won’t be able to access the old files. Whee!

Check out my ZDnet article for the gory details. It isn’t pretty.

Update: While the SP3 does block opening a number of old file formats, the formats in question are older: all Word pre-6.0; PowerPoint pre-97; Excel 4.0 charts; dBASE II .dbf; Lotus and Quattro files; Corel Draw .cdr. See my mea culpa. End update.

Clueless droids?
How does the world’s largest software company make this kind of wrong-on-so-many-levels decision? Is there ANY adult supervision in Redmond?

The decision bespeaks a corporate culture that is painfully clueless about its customers. Gee, why would anyone want to access 5 year old Word documents?

Medical products marketing
Redmond’s blindness echoes that of Detroit’s for the last 50 years. “Safety doesn’t sell.” “Bigger is better.” “Good enough quality is good enough.” “Americans will never buy Japanese cars.”

Microsoft clearly doesn’t get the fact that their products are an intimate part of consumer’s lives, much as medicines are. When 8 bottles of Tylenol capsules were poisoned with cyanide in 1982, Johnson & Johnson quickly recalled 31 million bottles and spent on the order of $100 million dollars to restore consumer confidence in the Tylenol brand.

Would Microsoft spend a nickel to protect and reassure consumers? I give it a qualified “maybe.”

The StorageMojo take
In case anyone thought that archiving documents in proprietary formats was acceptable, this is your wake-up call. ASCII text and probably PDFs are OK. Everything else, including RTF – which Microsoft controls – is suspect.

With the growing focus on e-discovery, there should be a market for a high-speed “any format to .txt or .pdf” appliance. Producing unreadable softcopies won’t cut much ice in Federal courts.

Comments welcome, as always.