Microsoft is to fix a glaring problem with its Office 97 package, in response to complaints from its largest customers.
The company is bringing out a service release of Office 97 in July which will address the issue of saving and reading files in different versions of Word.
"Some very important Microsoft corporate customers wanted us to change, so we did," explained Guy Swarbrick, product manager at Microsoft UK.
"It was definitely the right thing to do."
The problem lies in backward compatibility with previous versions of Office. Users of Office 97 often need to let users of older versions read their Word files. Although an option in Word 97 allows users to save their documents in a format that can be read by previous versions, documents are not saved as native Word files.
For example, when Word 97 saves a document to be read by Word 95, the program saves it in RTF (rich text format). RTF files lose some of the formatting of the original document, meaning that many of the key features of Word are rendered useless when users try to share their work with colleagues using an older version.
In the forthcoming service release, Microsoft plans to let users save Word 97 files in native binary Word 95 formats, eliminating the problem.
Microsoft Office 97 started shipping at the beginning of this year.
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