by Ed Hardy - 12/6/2006
Microsoft has begun the process of rolling out Office 2007. This will be one of the most significant upgrades in this suite of applications in close to a decade, and the file formats used will change greatly.
One of the unfortunate side effects of this is that no current Windows Mobile device will work with files that have been saved in the new Office 2007 formats. However, Microsoft is not abandoning users of these handhelds and smartphones.
A company spokesperson promised today that an update for Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PCs will be released that will bring Office 2007 support to these devices.
In addition, this new version of Office Mobile will include some additional functionality, though the spokesperson declined to give any details on what this will be. He did say, though, that it will essentially be the version of Office Mobile that will ship with the next version of Windows Mobile, code-named Crossbow.
A semi-closed beta of this software will be out during the first three months of next year, and a public beta will be available during the second quarter of 2007.
Office 2007 itself is expected to be available to the general public in the first month or so of next year.
No Love for Windows Mobile 2003
Although today's announcement is good news for Windows Mobile 5.0 users, the situation is less pleasant for those with older models. Microsoft says there will be no upgrade for the Pocket Office suite on Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition devices, nor for any earlier version of this operating system.
Still, that still leaves open the possibility that developers of third-party software will step into the gap, and bring support for the Office 2007 file formats to older models.
A Short-term Solution
Until the Office upgrade for Windows Mobile 5.0 is available, users of Office 2007 who want to access their files on a mobile device will have little option besides saving their files in formats supported by Office 2003.
However, the the months just after the release of this updated suite of application, people who want to share their documents would be wise to do this anyway, as it will be quite some time before it can be assumed to a majority of users have Office 2007.
PC users, though, will have an option that handheld and smartphone users won't: Microsoft is going to distribute a free reader that will allow anyone to open files in Office 2007. However, that doesn't mean that Office 2003 will be able to open these documents; they'll have to be opened in the separate viewer.