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Microsoft Office 2006 File Formats

Big changes are coming in the next version of . Office 12, due in the second half of this year, will have new XML-based file formats for Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. The OpenXML format will be the default for any file you create, with x's appended to the end of the current suffixes. So unless you choose to revert to the old binary formats, you'll save files as .docx for Word, .xlsx for Excel, and .pptx for PowerPoint.

The move could create some compatibility headaches. What happens if someone e-mails you, say, a .docx Word file, and you're using Office 2003? "You'll be prompted to download a converter," says Chris Capossela, a Microsoft VP. He also points to advantages the new formats will offer. Files will be saved in compressed form, including the underlying XML, he notes, and that will make documents smaller and could improve error recovery.

"These are going to be open formats with royalty-free licenses," he adds. "So someone doing an application, say, over at Intuit, could very easily include an Excel-formatted component."

Read full story - Flipping File Formats