Microsoft delivers delayed Mac Office file converters

Also ships standalone Open XML conversion tool for Office 2004 and Office v. X

After several delays, Microsoft on Tuesday released finished Open XML file converters for Office 2004 for Mac as part of a general update to the suite, giving users a way to handle documents generated by the newer Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 for Mac.

A month ago, Microsoft promised it would deliver the translators before the end of June.

The translators for Microsoft's Word word processor, Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation maker are integrated into Office 2004, and let users open and save XML-based documents and templates. Both Office 2007 on Windows and Office 2008 on Mac OS X default to the Open XML formats.

In February, Microsoft pushed back the release date by at least three months, saying it needed to focus on an Office 2008 security and stability update, which appeared several weeks later.

More than a year ago, Microsoft missed earlier deadlines for beta versions of the file converters, then delayed the tools when it postponed Office 2008 itself. The company never did issue a beta converter for Excel.

But while the translators are in place, Microsoft has noted more than 72 "known issues" that users may encounter. The problems, which are listed in a document on Microsoft's support site, range from improperly displayed formatting in Word to a glitch in PowerPoint 2004 that adds multiple file name extensions to Open XML documents.

Microsoft has also issued a standalone file converter today that translates Open XML files to formats usable by Office 2004 for Mac and 2001's Office v. X for Mac. The utility converts files one at a time or in batches, and can be downloaded from Microsoft's site.

The integrated Open XML converters were included as part of a wider refresh that also featured updated stability and reliability improvements in the 59MB update to version 11.5.0.

The Redmond developer also issued a much larger update for the newer Office 2008 for Mac today. Weighing in at 153MB, the 12.1.1 update fixed several stability bugs, said Microsoft.

The 11.5.0 and 12.1.1 updates can be downloaded from Microsoft's site or retrieved using the Check for Updates feature built into the 2004 and 2008 suites.

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