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Compatibility mode in the 2007 Office system

Updated: May 26, 2011

Applies To: Office Resource Kit

Updated: 2011-05-26

In this article:

The 2007 Microsoft Office system contains a new feature, compatibility mode, to offset compatibility issues between the 2007 Office system and previous versions of Office. Compatibility mode ensures that content created in the 2007 Office system can be converted or downgraded to a form that can be used by previous versions of Office. For example, when a user selects "Insert SmartArt" in compatibility mode in Microsoft Office Word 2007, the diagramming tool from Office 2003 appears. This ensures that the diagram added to the file can be fully edited in Word 2003. When not in compatibility mode, the new SmartArt diagramming tool for the 2007 Office system appears, and the object that is created will not be fully editable in Word 2003.

Compatibility mode helps users collaborate with those using previous versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. A file created in previous versions of Office, such as .doc, .xls, and .ppt, are fully functional in compatibility mode in the 2007 Office system. Compatibility mode ensures that the 2007 Office system can open and save files in from previous versions of Office without converting them to the new file formats in the 2007 Office system.

In compatibility mode, some features of the 2007 Office system are limited in order to be consistent with the features in previous versions of Office.

Compatibility in Word 2007, Excel 2007, and PowerPoint 2007

Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, and Office PowerPoint 2007 use compatibility mode to control the exchange of content between each program and its earlier version. This ensures maximum quality for sharing content between different versions. The following sections explain the purpose of compatibility mode for each application, and which criteria are important for defining how exchanges take place.

Excel

In Office Excel 2007, compatibility mode prevents new features in Office Excel 2007 from being saved to a file that will be edited in a previous version of Excel. For example, previous versions of Excel support a maximum of 65,536 rows in a worksheet. Office Excel 2007 removes this limitation. Upon opening a worksheet with 100,000 rows of data, previous versions of Excel must truncate rows beyond 65,536. To minimize disruption to users who are collaborating between different versions of Excel, new features like this in Office Excel 2007 are limited in compatibility mode. In this case, while working in compatibility mode, users cannot add more than 65,536 rows to an Excel workbook.

While working in Office Excel 2007, if a user attempts to paste content that is not supported by previous versions (for example, a chart or diagram created in Office Excel 2007), compatibility mode downgrades the content to a form that is recognizable by previous versions. If edited in a previous version, the image is “flattened” into a single object, instead of multiple objects. In addition, some colors might render differently in previous versions.

PowerPoint

In Office PowerPoint 2007, compatibility mode disables functionality that cannot be rendered with an adequate level of visual fidelity or editability in previous versions of PowerPoint. This ensures a consistent presentation experience across different versions of PowerPoint.

Office PowerPoint 2007 can add many new effects and attributes to content that are not supported in previous releases. For example, Office PowerPoint 2007 provides text effects for shadows, reflections, bevels, and other effects. Because previous versions of PowerPoint cannot render this content, Office PowerPoint 2007 represents these effects as images in compatibility mode. If edited in a previous version, the image is “flattened” into a single object, instead of multiple objects. In addition, some colors might render differently in previous versions. With the new feature refresh technology in 2007 Office system, even though these effects are saved as images in compatibility mode, they are once again treated as the original text effects when re-opened in Office PowerPoint 2007. For more information, Feature Refresh later in this topic.

Word

In Office Word 2007, compatibility mode primarily ensures visual fidelity between different versions. Some features in Office Word 2007 are grayed out and not available in compatibility mode, to prevent the addition of content that is not compatible with previous versions of Word.

While working in Office Word 2007, if a user attempts to paste content that is not supported by previous versions (for example, a chart, diagram, equation, or citation created in Office Word 2007), compatibility mode downgrades the content to a form that is recognizable by previous versions. If edited in a previous version, the image is “flattened” into a single object, instead of multiple objects. In addition, some colors might render differently in previous versions.

Enabling and disabling compatibility mode

Compatibility mode is enabled in the following situations:

Action in the 2007 Office release Excel 2007 PowerPoint 2007 Word 2007

Open a file saved in file formats used by previous versions.

X

X

X

Convert a file from 2007 Office system to a previous version using Save As.

X

X

X

Set the application default to save using the file formats from previous versions of Office.

X

X

X

Create a new document based on a .dot template (available in previous versions of Office).

X

To disable or exit compatibility mode, users must convert files to the 2007 Office system format. Users can perform a conversion by clicking the Microsoft Office Button, and then clicking Convert.

Compatibility checker

Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, and Office PowerPoint 2007 contain a compatibility checker to detect any features that are not recognized by previous versions. This helps users who need to share documents between different versions of Office. For example, if a user attempts to save an Office Excel 2007 file that contains 800,000 rows to the .xls format, the compatibility checker will prompt the user with a warning that data will be lost.

The compatibility checker displays a list of any content in the document that may not appear the same or be fully editable when the current new file format (for example, .pptx) is saved to a previous file (in this case, .ppt). The compatibility checker is launched either when a user downgrades a file by saving one of the new file formats to a previous file format, or when the user clicks Compatibility Checker on the Office Button Finish menu.

Feature refresh

The feature refresh technology in the 2007 Office system provides the next step in compatibility between the 2007 Office system and previous versions of Office. It allows features that have been altered by compatibility mode to be made available again when a file is re-opened in Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, or Office PowerPoint 2007. For example, a chart that was created in Office Word 2007 and that is altered by compatibility mode to be an uneditable image in a previous version of Word will be fully editable again when re-opened in Office Word 2007.

ImportantImportant:

Not all content can be refreshed in the 2007 Office system after it has been downgraded to a previous version.

For a list of features that are affected by compatibility mode, with notes on those that can be refreshed when re-opened in the 2007 Office system, see Features impacted by compatibility mode, below.

Features impacted by compatibility mode

The following tables show the features in Office Word 2007, Office Excel 2007, and Office PowerPoint 2007 that are impacted by compatibility mode.

Word 2007

Name Description Compatibility Mode Behavior

Math

Equation building is new to Office Word 2007.

Equations are represented as non-editable images. These images are refreshed when the document is converted. The Equations UI is disabled in compatibility mode.

Themes

Themes are new to Office Word 2007.

Themes are permanently converted to styles. The Themes UI is disabled in compatibility mode.

Colors (Theme Chunk)

Themes are new to Office Word 2007.

Themes are permanently converted to styles. The Themes UI is disabled in compatibility mode.

Font (Theme Chunk)

Themes are new to Office Word 2007.

Themes are permanently converted to styles. The Themes UI is disabled in compatibility mode.

Effects (Theme Chunk)

Themes are new to Office Word 2007.

Themes are permanently converted to styles. The Themes UI is disabled in compatibility mode.

Content Controls

Content controls are new to Office Word 2007.

Content controls are permanently converted to static text. The Content Controls UI is disabled in compatibility mode.

Tracked Moves

Tracked moves are new to Office Word 2007.

Tracked moves are permanently converted to "Insert" and "Delete."

Major/Minor Fonts

Major/minor fonts are new to Office Word 2007.

Major and minor fonts are permanently converted to static formatting.

Relative Text Boxes

The ability to set the position of a text box relative to some part of a document. Relative text boxes are new to Office Word 2007.

Relative positioning of text boxes is permanently converted to absolute positioning.

Margin Tabs

Margin tabs are new to Office Word 2007.

Margin tabs are permanently converted to absolutely defined tabs.

Bibliography

New to Office Word 2007.

Bibiliographies are permanently converted to static text.

Citations

New to Office Word 2007.

Citations are permanently converted to static text.

Placeholder text

New to Office Word 2007..

Placeholder text is permanently converted to static text.

Office Art 2007

Office Art engine is improved upon in the 2007 Office system.

All Office Art 2007 objects are converted to Office 97–2003 objects. These objects are refreshed when the document is converted. When a user selects SmartArt in Office Word 2007, the Diagram Gallery from Word 2003 appears.

SmartArt Diagram

Some diagrams are new to the 2007 Office system.

Diagrams in the 2007 Office system are converted to non-editable images. When the document is converted, these images are refreshed to 2007 Office system again. When a user selects SmartArt in Office Word 2007, the Diagram Gallery from Word 2003 appears.

Custom XML Data store

New to the Open XML Formats, custom-defined XML information can be stored as a separate component within the Open XML Formats, to help organizations include content from their own data sources, using their own languages.

The XML data store is removed during conversion, and XML data and content within XML bindings are permanently converted to text.

Vertical Text Box Alignment

Vertical text box alignment of center or bottom are new to Office Word 2007.

Vertical text box alignment of center or bottom is permanently converted to top vertical text box alignment.

Office Charts

Charts can now exist as native objects in Office Word 2007.

Office charts are converted to Excel OLE objects. These objects are refreshed when the document is converted back to 2007 full functionality mode. When a user selects Charts in Office Word 2007, the Diagram Gallery from Word 2003 appears.

ActiveX

Active X controls can be added to Word documents to deliver enhanced functionality.

Disabled ActiveX controls are converted to their image representation when saved to a downlevel file type or opened in a downlevel application verison through the converter.

Excel 2007

Name Description Compatibility Mode Behavior

Sheet exceeds limit for cross-sheet array formulas.

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 65,472 cross-sheet array formulas. Excel 2007 removes this limitation.

Formulas over the Excel 2000–2003 limit return #VALUE.

Cell with a formula that exceeds internal length limit

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 1800 bytes in BIFF8 internal representation. Excel 2007 allows up to 16,384 bytes.

Formulas over the Excel 2000–2003 limit return #VALUE.

Cell with a formula that exceeds nesting level limit

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 7 levels of nesting. Excel 2007 allows up to 255 levels of nesting.

Formulas over the Excel 2000–2003 limit return #VALUE.

Cell with a formula that exceeds limit for arguments in a function

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 30 arguments. Excel 2007 allows up to 255 arguments.

Formulas over the Excel 2000–2003 limit return #VALUE.

Cell formula contains more than 40 operands.

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 40 operands. Excel 2007 allows up to 1024 operands.

Formulas over the Excel 2000–2003 limit return #VALUE.

PivotTable with only intermediate levels hidden

Excel 2000–2003 hides levels all the way up to the top.

Excel 2007 allows hiding just an intermediate level.

Pivot saved as static data.

Workbook contains cells with data outside 256 x 65,536.

Excel 2000–2003 grid size is 256 x 65,536. Excel 2007 grid size is 18,278 x 1,048,576.

Data outside the Excel 2000–2003 grid size is truncated.

Cell with more than 3 conditional formats

Excel 2000–2003 allows 3 conditions per cell. Excel 2007 allows 20 conditions per cell.

Conditions exceeding the Excel 2000–2003 limit are not displayed.

Cell with a data bar, color scale, or icon set condition type.

Excel 2000–2003 has no data bar, color scale, or icon set conditions. Excel 2007 has these conditions.

Unsupported conditions are not displayed.

Cell with a condition where StopIfTrue=False

Excel 2000–2003 always stops after a condition is true. Excel 2007 does not stop when StopIfTrue = False.

Stop after first true condition.

Cell with a conditional expression that references another sheet

Excel 2000–2003 does not allow cross-sheet cell references in conditional expressions. Excel 2007 allows this.

Condition is not evaluated.

Cell with a Top10 or AboveAverage rule where CalcFor =! AllValues

Excel 2000–2003 has no option to perform multiple calculations per Pivot “block.” Excel 2007 offers these options.

Condition is evaluated as if CalcFor = AllValues.

Workbook contains more than 4050 unique cell formats.

Note: This check looks at the whole workbook, not just the formats used in the 256 x 65,536 range.

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 4050 unique cell formats/styles. Excel 2007 allows up to 64k unique cell formats/styles.

Unique formats exceeding the Excel 2000–2003 limit are not persisted.

List contains a Total Row with a custom formula.

Excel 2000–2003 Total Rows must contain one of a list of predefined functions. Excel 2007 Total Rows allow user-defined formulas.

List saved as static data.

PivotTable field contains more than 32,500 unique items.

Excel 2000–2003 allows up to 32,500 unique items in a Pivot field. Excel 2007 increases this limit to 1,048,576.

Pivot saved as static data.

PivotTable item has string length greater than 255 characters.

Excel 2000–2003 allows item string length (MDX name in OLAP) up to 255 characters. Excel 2007 increases this limit to 32,767.

Pivot saved as static data.

Refedit contains more than 255 characters.

Excel 2000–2003 refedits allow up to 255 characters. Excel 2007 refedits allow between 2k and 8k characters.

In some cases, refedit works but user cannot see whole formula. In other cases, the feature does not work.

Cell with an array formula that references an entire column

Excel 2000–2003 does not allow column references (returns #NUM). Excel 2007 allows column references.

Formulas evaluate to #NUM.

Sort state with more than 3 sort levels

Excel 2000–2003 only supports 3 sort levels. Excel 2007 supports 64 sort levels.

Sort state will be lost.

User has a custom list sort.

Excel 2000–2003 only supports one custom list filter on the first column only. Excel 2007 supports many custom list sorts on any column.

Sort state will be lost.

User has a sort state that uses formatting.

Excel 2000–2003 only allows sorting on values. Excel 2007 also allows sorting on cell background color, cell foreground color, and cell icons.

Sort state will be lost.

User has a dynamic filter applied.

Excel 2000–2003 only supports value filters. Excel 2007 supports dynamic filters for items such as “today” and “last month.”

Filters will not be viewable, but the filtered rows will remain hidden.

User has a filter that filters by formatting.

Excel 2000–2003 only supports value filters. Excel 2007 supports filtering by cell background color, cell foreground color, and cell icon.

Filters will not be viewable, but the filtered rows will remain hidden.

User selects multiple items from the autofilter listview.

Excel 2000–2003 only supports filtering by 2 conditions. Excel 2007 allows the user to check multiple items from a list view control, which creates multiple sort conditions.

Filters will not be viewable, but the filtered rows will remain hidden.

PowerPoint 

Name Description Compatibility Mode Behavior

Strikethrough, Double Strikethrough, and Text Underline

Strikethrough, Double Strikethrough text formatting

Converted to a picture. Since these features were not available in previous versions, any text containing this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for strikerthrough, double strikethrough, and text underline is disabled in compatibility mode.

Text Warping

The ability to morph the shape of a character or a run of text to a specified shape.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any text containing this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

Character Spacing

The ability to either condense or expand the space that appears between consecutive characters.

Character spacing on text will not display in Office 2003.

Columns

The ability to have text reflow into multiple columns within a single text body.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any text organized into columns is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for columns is disabled in compatibility mode.

Shadow

The ability to add a drop-shadow effect to a shape or object in the presentation.  Soft shadows create the illusion of depth.

New soft shadows will be converted into an equivalent hard-edged shadow when the presentation is opened in a prior release of PowerPoint. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode. 

Presets Gallery

See Bevel Gallery.

Bevel Gallery

The ability to add depth to a shape using 3D Effects.

Converted to a picture. The Bevel Gallery is introduced into PowerPoint for the first time with this release. Any shapes using a Bevel Effect are converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

3D Rotation

The ability to add a perspective effect that makes an object appear to be tilted or rotated in 3-dimensional space.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any object using this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

Soft Edges

The ability to add a soft edges effect that gradually fades the boundaries of a graphic outward. This is a new effect in the 2007 Office system.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any object using this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a previous version. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

Glow

The ability to add a glow effect that adds a vibrant colored edge to graphics. This is a new effect in the 2007 Office system.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any object using this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

Reflection

The ability to add a mirror reflection of an object. This is a new effect in Office 2007.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any object using this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

Text Direction

The ability to lay out characters in a language-specific configuration, such as vertically stacked.

Converted to a picture. Since this feature was not available in previous versions, any text using this type of formatting is converted into a static picture when opened in a prior release. This ensures that the file looks the same in both releases, so that no intended meaning is lost in conversion. The UI for shape styles, 3D effects, and text effects is disabled in compatibility mode.

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