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Backward compatibility

From: Word 2010 New Features

Video: Backward compatibility

So, you're using Word 2010, but some of your colleagues and clients still use Word 2007, or perhaps an even earlier version of Word. Let's see how the new features in Word 2010 documents behave when you open those documents in Word 2007 or 2003. Word 2007 and Word 2010 share a file format. Files created with these versions of Microsoft Word use the file extension .X. You can open Word 2010 files in Word 2007; however, Word 2007 then has to do something with document elements that are new in Word 2010: each Word 2010-only feature will either be converted in some way or removed temporarily or permanently by Word 2007.

Backward compatibility

So, you're using Word 2010, but some of your colleagues and clients still use Word 2007, or perhaps an even earlier version of Word. Let's see how the new features in Word 2010 documents behave when you open those documents in Word 2007 or 2003. Word 2007 and Word 2010 share a file format. Files created with these versions of Microsoft Word use the file extension .X. You can open Word 2010 files in Word 2007; however, Word 2007 then has to do something with document elements that are new in Word 2010: each Word 2010-only feature will either be converted in some way or removed temporarily or permanently by Word 2007.

Let's look at the converted features. Word 2010 supports fixed digit numbering formats, 001 or 0001, for example, the kind of formats you'd use for invoices. Those numbers will be converted to the number 1, 2, 3 and so on in Word 2007. There are new shapes and text boxes in Word 2010, but more importantly, you can assign new effects to those shapes and text boxes. Any effects that are not available in Word 2007 will be converted when you open that document in Word 2007.

There are new content controls in Word 2010, for example, a new check box that we'll look at. Those content controls are converted to static text if that control doesn't exist in Word 2007. Text effects will either be converted or removed; it depends on how you applied them in Word 2010. For example, if you have a text effect that you apply as a custom style, it will be hidden in Word 2007, and you'll see it again when you open the document again in 2010.

If we take that same text effect and don't apply it as a style, it will be removed. Let's go take a look at the features that are converted when we open a Word 2010 document in Word 2007. Here's our Word 2010 document, and we've used that new fixed digit numbering format. We've used two new shapes, an equals and not equals sign and applied a glow effect to the equals sign and an inner shadow to the not equals sign. We have a new text box, which is called an Austin pull quote, but more importantly, we've applied an effect to the text in that text box.

We have a new content control. It works just like we'd like it to work in 2010. I click it. It turns on. I click it again. It turns off. Then finally, I have a text effect. I know this was applied as a custom style, because there's a style in my Styles gallery that shows it: Heading1Reflect. Let's now open this same document in Word 2007, and see how Word handled it. In Word 2007, my 001 was changed to a 1 and so on.

Notice no glow, no inner shadow, because those effects aren't available in Word 2007, and notice that there's no effect on the text in my new text box, also not supported. My content control, that check box looks good. But if I click it, nothing happens. It's been converted to a static text box. Finally, my text effect that was applied as a custom style is actually still here, even though I can't see it. When I click on this text, it refers me back to a style.

Let's take a look now at what happens with the effects from Word 2010 that are removed. As I noted before, any text effect applied manually, that's not reflected in the style, will be permanently removed when the document is opened in Word 2007 - yet another great reason to use Styles. Alternative text on tables is removed. OpenType features are removed, because they are not supported in Word 2007. The new WordArt effects, if you've used them, are removed. And finally, any blocking that you applied to a shared document to disallow editing of particular sections is removed.

Let's go take a look at these features in Word 2010. The first feature is alternative text on a table. This is, again, a new 2010 feature that when I look at the properties of a table, I have the ability to add alternate text. This alternative text would be used by, for example, a screen reader. It can also be used by a web search engine, if we were to publish this particular document as a web page. When I see this same table in Word 2007, this alternative text will be removed because Word 2007 has no place to store it.

Here's our text formatted with OpenType, some Gabriola text that uses the stylistic set number 6. So, it's a very decorative piece of text. Finally, here's our WordArt, formatted with a number of different text effects. So, we have a glow applied to this. We also have a gradient fill for this text. We have a reflection out in front, a lot of different effects that make this a particularly nice looking piece of text. Take a look at how these features are reflected when we open the same document in 2007.

First, as I noted when we take a look at the properties of this table, there is no tab to store this information on, so Word has simply removed the alternative text we entered. In terms of the OpenType features, not as fancy as it was before, because Word doesn't support OpenType. So, this is what the Gabriola font looks like with no stylistic set or OpenType features applied - no ligatures, for example. And here's our WordArt, a nice piece of WordArt, but without any of the text effects that we saw that's available in Word 2010.

We have a pretty plain-looking piece of WordArt here compared to how it looked in 2010. All of the changes that you see here, the table, the OpenType, and the text effects, these are permanent changes. When I open this document in 2010 again, I would expect to see, for example, my custom styles come back. I will not see these things reappear. What happens if I open my Word 2010 document in an even older version of the software, like 2003? Well, any feature that wasn't supported in 2003 now disappears, even if it was a Word 2007 format.

Themes are permanently converted to styles. Rather than having a heading and a body font, I have simply two fonts, because heading and body fonts were embedded in themes. So, rather than having a Heading font 1, it's converted to Arial or Times New Roman, or whatever the font name is. Rather than having tracked moves, I have text that I moved, tracked as an insertion and a separate deletion. SmartArt graphics, all of them are converted to a single uneditable, not-SmartArt graphics.

Charts and diagrams will be converted to images if the chart type or diagram type didn't exist in the Chart gallery or the Diagram gallery in Word 2003. Relative text boxes are permanently converted to an absolute position. All OpenXML, all of those content controls are permanently converted to static text. Bibliographies and citations, which rely on sources in Word 2007 and 2010, are permanently converted to static text in Word 2003.

So, if you change the source, neither the bibliography nor the citation will change. Word 2010 has a lot to offer, a lot of fabulous new features. When you use 2010 in a mixed environment though, it's helpful to know how each of these features will be interpreted and either converted, hidden or permanently deleted by earlier versions of Word.

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Word 2010 New Features

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Gini Courter
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