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WHY are file formats changing and never compatible???

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posted on May, 4 2008 @ 07:54 PM
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I have a question for all you out there (1) why are file formats constantly changing and (2) why cant they be compatible?
Here is an example of what im trying to ask..
Recently I was typing a file on a computer at school, I noticed that they has just updated to the most recent Microsoft office programs, but i didn't think much of it because it was still the same porgram M$ office Word. However, to my horror this file does not work and isn't compatible with my personal computer's office 2004 or something close. Looking into the new file format i realized they had updated word to use a new .docx rather than the old .doc so i wasn't able to convert it and wasn't able to turn in the homework i had worked on.

So my question is why did they change the word format? and why would you need to? I realize for larger files and data transfer its essential to improve formats, but for a simple text document why would you ever need to change? Secondly to the compatibility question, why cant files as simple as text files be compatible? This can be mainly seen through word perfect Apples pages and other smaller word processors. WHy cant files have some sort of standard or universal format so everything is compatible? Maybe this is just a dumb question but i know for many this hastle of compatibility can be a huge headach.




posted on May, 4 2008 @ 08:04 PM
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M$ does this because they want you to buy the newest Microsoft office. They also try to limit compatibility so you’ll be locked into Microsoft office. Its all about money and nothing more.



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 09:00 PM
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It's because programmers can't predict the future. A modern word processor has more features than an older one. That means that they have to store different information in the files, which means they need a newer filetype. A new office program will run old documents just fine, but the opposite isn't true. Just get the people you're working with to save files in older formats. It's compatible with everything that came before it.

And note: a word processor format ISN'T a simple text format. If you want that, use .txt, which hasn't changed in decades. A word processor document holds far, far more information, about fonts, and highlighting and bold and pictures, and formatting and headers and colors and all kinds of other things you may or may not ever use. There are plenty of simple text formats that you can transfer back and forth between computers today and something running windows 3.1 from like 1991. Microsoft office, for instance, can save files as plain text (.txt) or rich text format, which should work on anything. It can also save files as office 97-2003 format, so you can use it with your old computer. You should be thankful that they didn't pull this crap between EVERY incarnation of Microsoft office.


You probably don't use any of the new features, but some people do. Office 2008 has a funky annotation feature so you can give files to your peers and have them place comments and corrections out in the sides, with a list of changes and stuff. Not useful at all to me, but very useful for some people. If you were foolish enough to buy a hundred plus dollar new program to do the exact same job as a ten year old one, then that's your problem. You can still save in old formats if you want to forgo all the fancy new features. Sounds to me like you're too lazy to hit the "save as" button instead of the regular "save" button.

They don't limit the compatibility at all. You just fail at using the program.

The fact that it's an obtuse, irritating and over featured piece of crap is entirely tangential.



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 09:41 PM
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They change to adapt with the times, the needs of the users and the abilities of the software. As mentioned - there are many new features added to the newest Office program - and many people won't even touch them. Software needs to grow and expand as they release subsequent versions. Even though you may not need those features, somebody certainly does.

If you are just doing simple text documents... just use the "save as" feature and save as an older, cross-software format.

If it weren't for formats changing... instead of .mp3s or .flacs we may still have .wavs. Rather than dealing with large, uncompressed .avi files, we now have quicktime with the streamlined h.264 codec. And give those a few years and even better formats will be available.



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 10:19 PM
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reply to post by bgaty
 


if your upset with billy gates money grabbing techniques of instituting new half assed programs why not change over to open office.org for free ,why continue to feed this mans crap partial programs which continue to use up your memory uploading quick fixes as the original program was never fully finished-fre ware and linux is the only way to go .


apc

posted on May, 4 2008 @ 10:42 PM
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It's just planned obsolescence but I thought all new releases of Word should be backwards compatible with older .doc formats? Although I haven't bought a copy of Office since 2000 so I don't really know what hijinx they're up to today.

I agree with just switching to something like Open Office. Document formats are always in competition for dominance (as it should be) so you want a word processor that doesn't have a vested interest in only being compatible with one or two formats, rather benefits from being compatible with as many formats as possible.



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 11:07 PM
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reply to post by mdiinican
 


Thanks for the good reply. You do make a lot of sense, i didn't really think of the different add-ons they throw in there to justify buying another 150$ pack lol. I know someone mentioned a .org word processor, but is there one out there that is compatible with just about everything? as far as reading doc's?



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 11:13 PM
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Originally posted by bgaty
(1) why are file formats constantly changing

Because they update them to make them work better with new technology.


Originally posted by bgaty
and (2) why cant they be compatible?

Well a file format is the way data is saved, basically. A program needs to know how to read it properly.

As for Microsoft, you can save files so that they're compatible with older versions. I think you can see it in the save as box.


Originally posted by bgaty
Looking into the new file format i realized they had updated word to use a new .docx rather than the old .doc so i wasn't able to convert it and wasn't able to turn in the homework i had worked on.

So save it in an older format next time. it should let you.


Originally posted by bgatyI realize for larger files and data transfer its essential to improve formats, but for a simple text document why would you ever need to change?

Formatting. Fonts, paragraph, etc.


Originally posted by bgaty
Secondly to the compatibility question, why cant files as simple as text files be compatible?

It's called .txt .


Originally posted by bgaty
WHy cant files have some sort of standard or universal format so everything is compatible?

Because companies develop the formats and I think they have a patent for them for a period of time. I'm not sure of the specifics. But mainly a company decides to use a specific format because it works best with how they want their program to work.



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 11:34 PM
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It's good business. Changsing the formats few times in a decade makes huge $$$ for the companies.



posted on May, 4 2008 @ 11:40 PM
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Originally posted by apc
It's just planned obsolescence but I thought all new releases of Word should be backwards compatible with older .doc formats? Although I haven't bought a copy of Office since 2000 so I don't really know what hijinx they're up to today.

I agree with just switching to something like Open Office. Document formats are always in competition for dominance (as it should be) so you want a word processor that doesn't have a vested interest in only being compatible with one or two formats, rather benefits from being compatible with as many formats as possible.


Open office can't use that many formats because they're all the property of various companies. I find it's user interface unintuitive, but I also find word 2007 unintuitive too. It's fine if you just want to write stuff and print it, I guess, but everybody else has some version of MS or corel office, so if you can't be buggered to figure out how to simply save a MS office document in a compatible format, you're sure as hell never going to get any file transfered from your open office to anything else.

You can save it as a .doc format compatible with any Microsoft word version since 97. It's not money-grubbing (not entirely anyway, and no more than any other company releasing a new version of anything).

You just have to hit

File -> Save as -> Word 97-2003 file.



posted on May, 5 2008 @ 03:05 PM
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you do realize that you can just go to the microsoft website and download a free import filter to allow you to open your newer word 2007 docx file in your older 2003 or whatever version program, right? no? well now you do.

if you knew much about computers, you'd know that a doc file is not just text, its text, formatting, pictures and whatever else you embed in your document. want something compatible across systems? yeah like it was said before. try basic .txt



posted on May, 5 2008 @ 05:16 PM
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Well, you're certainly not the only one who feels its not fair when you have to pay money just to keep up to date. In fact, the whole open source movement is a sign of our disgruntledness. As a linux user since the previous millennium, I dare to say that we are gaining understanding and popularity, as well as compatibility.
You see, the more people that join the Open Source movement, the more eyes will be looking over code to see if it does what it is supposed to do, or to add more functionality - and the better the software, the more people join. So this almost can't go wrong.

Almost - except precisely where the opponents of OS come in to play. The big corporations. No way that they're 'giving away' their hard work! This is very understandable.. From their point of perspective. But you shouldnt have to pay a dime these days to do some simple text formatting (that includes fonts, layouts, images, etc..).

I'm not sure what documents you typically use, but OpenOffice(.org) reads all the .doc's i've ever had. The OpenOffice 'native' document type is .odt which stands for 'Open Document Type', instead of Micro$oft claiming the '.document' extension and later asking money.. ok I'm ranting here, but I see so many people paying money for essentially nothing they can't get free! Furthermore, OpenOffice is really easy to setup, so if you have a little bandwidth a diskspace, just try it. Of course you can download some conversion tool Microsoft made, but there is no need for those kind of shenannigans - there's this concept called 'backwards compatible' and it means that whatever feature you add, you dont have to change the format.

There is no need to change the format, unless
1. they forgot to make the format modular in the first place, unacceptable from a big programming corporation
2. they want to make more money by selling more software, expected from a big programming corporation.

Either way, you don't have to play their game! Opt out at download.openoffice.org...!



posted on May, 5 2008 @ 05:57 PM
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Originally posted by scraze
Well, you're certainly not the only one who feels its not fair when you have to pay money just to keep up to date. In fact, the whole open source movement is a sign of our disgruntledness. As a linux user since the previous millennium, I dare to say that we are gaining understanding and popularity, as well as compatibility.
You see, the more people that join the Open Source movement, the more eyes will be looking over code to see if it does what it is supposed to do, or to add more functionality - and the better the software, the more people join. So this almost can't go wrong.

Almost - except precisely where the opponents of OS come in to play. The big corporations. No way that they're 'giving away' their hard work! This is very understandable.. From their point of perspective. But you shouldnt have to pay a dime these days to do some simple text formatting (that includes fonts, layouts, images, etc..).

I'm not sure what documents you typically use, but OpenOffice(.org) reads all the .doc's i've ever had. The OpenOffice 'native' document type is .odt which stands for 'Open Document Type', instead of Micro$oft claiming the '.document' extension and later asking money.. ok I'm ranting here, but I see so many people paying money for essentially nothing they can't get free! Furthermore, OpenOffice is really easy to setup, so if you have a little bandwidth a diskspace, just try it. Of course you can download some conversion tool Microsoft made, but there is no need for those kind of shenannigans - there's this concept called 'backwards compatible' and it means that whatever feature you add, you dont have to change the format.

There is no need to change the format, unless
1. they forgot to make the format modular in the first place, unacceptable from a big programming corporation
2. they want to make more money by selling more software, expected from a big programming corporation.

Either way, you don't have to play their game! Opt out at download.openoffice.org...!


No. First, software is made by people's hard work. Open source is cool because they're giving their work out for free And for the most part, it's good enough for most people, but I guess they just don't know about it. But to EXPECT that is unrealistic. Software companies have every right to charge you to keep up to date. They paid their employees to add features that *YOU* might want, and if you want them, you have to pay for it.

If you don't want the new features, DON'T UPGRADE. It's not like your old software becomes worse when there's something better out. It's exactly the same. And all the new software is backwards compatible, you have the definition wrong. It means that it can use files from all older systems without issues. Old software isn't necessarily FORWARDS compatible, meaning it can use future file types, and it's unrealistic to expect that. I for one am surprised Microsoft released a tool to allow that, given their track record of douchebaugery.

There are all kinds of reasons to change filetypes. The .doc format is at least ELEVEN YEARS OLD. Things change.

The opponents of open source OSes aren't big corporations- it doesn't really cut into their marketshare in a meaningful way. You'll notice that microsoft doesn't even bother attacking Apple, which itself has far more users than open source OSes. It's regular people who can't be bothered to get off their butts and learn how to use it. That will change as it improves, and it's certainly better now than it was even five years ago, but face it, given a Linux desktop, 90% of average computer users will hate it.



posted on May, 5 2008 @ 06:18 PM
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I will try to keep this short, as I suspect the OP did not intend to turn this thread into a discussion about the essence of open source or whom its opponents are.

You got the right words, but the emphasis seems askew. Software companies charge us for features that we MIGHT want. That's ok, and that's what I meant with 'expected' - a company is EXPECTED to make money. Guess you thought I meant something else there.

Yes, things change, but I'll have to see the day where a new OpenOffice-document cannot be opened on a old version of the program. And even if that happens, you can immediately download a new version - something you cannot do with Word. In fact, you say your program stays exactly the same - but can you say the same of its functionality, when you cannot open the documents you made at work or school? I think the OP did not perceive the program as fulfilling its purpose!

Finally, Microsoft actually is concerned about the Open Source movement. And so should every software company. I'm not sure whether it's good for the economy, but I'm sure as hell not complaining. Microsoft is, however - you said it wouldnt even bother Apple, but please realise that Apple is not Open Source. The largest threat there is for software companies is free software, not other commercial software.

Here is 'proof' that Microsoft is either scared or just angry:money.cnn.com...

And they're definitely trying to influence people's attitudes:
www.microsoft.com...

If there's anything I'd really like to say, it would be: you're free to believe what you want. That includes believing free software will never make the grade, but let me tell you; my aging mother is using Linux. Says it's easier than Vista.





[edit on 5-5-2008 by scraze]

[edit on 5-5-2008 by scraze]



posted on May, 7 2008 @ 10:12 PM
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Originally posted by CoffinFeeder
you do realize that you can just go to the microsoft website and download a free import filter to allow you to open your newer word 2007 docx file in your older 2003 or whatever version program, right? no? well now you do.

if you knew much about computers, you'd know that a doc file is not just text, its text, formatting, pictures and whatever else you embed in your document. want something compatible across systems? yeah like it was said before. try basic .txt


I do realize that. The problem i ran into was my girlfriend typed her paper on the new MS office, but she needed to finish it up on my computer. But I have a mac, however that hasn't stopped me from being able to open the old .doc. Little did i know they changed it to .dox and seeing that my crappy mac word processor pages coudn't upload it i was sol. It took a while to find a converter but i found one.



posted on May, 7 2008 @ 10:15 PM
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reply to post by scraze
 


Great way to sum it up. Thanks for getting the thread back on track lol. It wasn't really me who had the file format problem, but more so my girlfirend who is computer illiterate. So any computer problem she has basically becomes my own.



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 10:45 AM
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If you wanted to know, new formats appear because of all the reasons they already mentioned, plus remember that Microsoft is a company that wants to tackle a broad software market (word processors, e-mail services, operating systems, virtual drives, webpages, multimedia, networking, software development, etc) and in order to make that successful all of their products need to be compatible, so new formats have to appear as their product selection expands.

To name an example, in MS Word 2008 you can paste an Excel sheet or diagram and edit it in Word as if you were using Excel, and the Cells are perfectly lined up and everything, while in previous versions pasting an Excel table or a graph could distort it unless you made it as a picture. Another one, not form Microsoft, is Dreamweaver, where you can add multimedia content from Flash, Fireworks, and others, completely integrating all of Adobe products. In order to do do all that, you need new formats that make the software compatible.

Plus, they need to be compatible with other popular products not from the company. Matlab is an example that integrates its awesome system with Texas Instruments DSPs and C code to develop greater scale projects. Else, Matlab would be just an experimenting tool and the company would lose profits. And I insist, it has to create new formats and make the software more complex and expensive in order to achieve that.

[edit on 8-5-2008 by Halicarnassus]



posted on May, 8 2008 @ 04:42 PM
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Originally posted by Halicarnassus
If you wanted to know, new formats appear because of all the reasons they already mentioned, plus remember that Microsoft is a company that wants to tackle a broad software market (word processors, e-mail services, operating systems, virtual drives, webpages, multimedia, networking, software development, etc) and in order to make that successful all of their products need to be compatible, so new formats have to appear as their product selection expands.

To name an example, in MS Word 2008 you can paste an Excel sheet or diagram and edit it in Word as if you were using Excel, and the Cells are perfectly lined up and everything, while in previous versions pasting an Excel table or a graph could distort it unless you made it as a picture. Another one, not form Microsoft, is Dreamweaver, where you can add multimedia content from Flash, Fireworks, and others, completely integrating all of Adobe products. In order to do do all that, you need new formats that make the software compatible.

Plus, they need to be compatible with other popular products not from the company. Matlab is an example that integrates its awesome system with Texas Instruments DSPs and C code to develop greater scale projects. Else, Matlab would be just an experimenting tool and the company would lose profits. And I insist, it has to create new formats and make the software more complex and expensive in order to achieve that.

[edit on 8-5-2008 by Halicarnassus]


Oh yeah, I was greatly impressed by the fact that you can copy and paste back and forth from matlab to excel perfectly. Statistics would be a real pain in the ass if you couldn't. Now if only they'd use the same histogram binning system.



posted on May, 9 2008 @ 10:43 AM
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Work in notepad (txt) which is close to the plain ASCII character set
and nothing else.

Its not word processing.

But might be a usable save and input file in any word processor program.



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