In my previous post I mentioned that if you are going to use SharePoint 2007 you really should use Office 2007 with it. In this post I will try to describe differences between various versions so you can know what to expect on your implementation.

Every project is different, and you will encounter numerous combinations of Microsoft software installed. Some large corporations we work with, are still using Office 2000 and Office XP. The majority of enterprise accounts are still using Office 2003 on Windows XP. (I cannot find any hard figures on this though).

Scenario 1

Client platform: Office 2007
Server Platform: SharePoint Portal Server 2003

You might have a customer that moved to Office 2007 but who is still using SharePoint 2003. There might be a number of reasons for this. Your customer probably has a very customized SharePoint 2003 and have decided not to upgrade it because it the solution work fine.

Feature Office 2007 with SharePoint Portal Server 2003
Saving documents to SharePoint sites
Editing documents stored to a SharePoint site
(Edition only works for the Office 2003 formats. You cannot save a DOCX back to SharePoint 2003)
Check-out/in, version history
Updating properties
(it works but not as elegant as on SharePoint 2007)

You will also experience the following server limitations:

  • Inability to index new document formats
  • Problems with using Address Books

Update September 22nd 2008: Thanks to Jonah I learned that there is a fix that solves some of these issues. Check it out.

Scenario 2

Server Platform: Office SharePoint Server 2007

In most cases you will run into this scenario. Your customer decided to implement SharePoint 2007, but they will still be using Office 2003. Here are differences between Office 2003 and Office 2007 when working with data from SharePoint sites.

Application / Feature Office 2003 Office 2007
Saving and editing Office 2003 files from SharePoint sites
Viewing Office 2007 files from SharePoint sites
You must install Compatibility Pack.
Editing Office 2007 files from SharePoint sites
Check-out/in, version history
Start a workflow
Updating properties
Improved in Word 2007.
Inserting document properties for (DOC/DOCX)
(DOC file format)

(DOCX file format)
Automatically updating server properties that were inserted to document body (DOC/DOCX)
Write a blog post
Compare versions of a SharePoint document /
(Very limited)
Synchronize tasks/discussion boards to Outlook
Synchronizing calendars to Outlook /
(One-way sync only; from SharePoint to Outlook)
Synchronizing contacts to Outlook /
(One-way sync only; from SharePoint to Outlook)
Synchronize document libraries to Outlook
Publishing Excel files as web pages
Working with Slide Library

Bear in mind that some customers will note be willing to upgrade to the new platform. During your project ask what are the key features they want to use to check if these are available for their Office version.


  1. http:// Says

    You just saved me from some hours of testing, trying and documenting 🙂


  2. GT Says

    Thank you for this concise analysis! Looked all over the net and was grateful to find this blog.

  3. Jack Says

    Have you tested KnowledgeLake’s Connect? It easily lets me index Office 2003 docs and release them to a SharePoint document library.

  4. Johan Says

    Concerning scenario 1, you state “Edition only works for the Office 2003 formats. You cannot save a DOCX back to SharePoint 2003”. I don’t think this really is the case anymore – we are in that situation, and I can edit and save back docx documents in SharePoint 2003. Likewise, sharepoint 2003 can effectively index Office 2007 documents providing you install an ifilter.

    See MS article on this subject:

    The article mentions 4 problems, and gives solutions for 3 of them (only the promotion of metadata does not work, alas).

  5. Toni Says

    @Jonah: Thank you, I was not aware of that. I will update the post for other visitors.

  6. Gagan Verma Says

    Would someone be able to share some thoughts on this:

    Start a workflow in Office 2003 (Crossed) and in Office 2007 (Checked). What does this mean, does it mean that you cannot start a workflow in Office 2003 with SharePoint Server 2007.

  7. JC Says


    I am having a problem when using Project Server 2007 with documents generated in Office 2003. Right now I have Office 2003 in my PC and when I upload a document to the Project Server 2007 Share Point Area, and then try to view it thru the sharepoint (click it), an error message hangs the IE.

    Please, can someone help us?

    Thank u



  8. nadine Says


    i will ask about one point again in target of the initial blog entry:
    (Edition only works for the Office 2003 formats. You cannot save a DOCX back to SharePoint 2003)

    This is still correct or not? The KB Article 936909 do not solve this problem!!

  9. Toni Says

    @nadine: I have just tested KB 936909 on a test server and now I am able to edit DOCXs normally from Office 2007.

    The most important part is this:
    3. Modify the Htmltransinfo.xml file. To do this, follow these steps:
    a. Locate, and then copy the following line:

    b. Paste the line under the line that you copied, and then modify it so that it reads as follows:

    It will not work without this modification.

    If you can open a document from Office 2007 and but cannot save it back then you should also check the following article:

    Let me know.

  10. zoubi Says

    Something that you can add in the Excel features is that publishing lists on Sharepoint 2007 according to its Office version is totally different.
    With Excel 2003, we are able to publish a list created on Sharepoint 2007, but we cannot synchronize it: Sharepoint creates a GUID that is used to communicate between Excel and Sharpeoint, but Excel 2003 is not able to define it.
    With Excel 2007, we are able to publish and to update/synchronize data from Excel.

    In Excel 2003, in order to synchronize your list, you have to export your list previously created on Sharepoint as an external spreadsheet. Then, you can create your own VBA code to automate the process.
    Warning : if you want to import the list into an existing workbook/sheet that contains VBA Code, this code will be removed first by Excel. Too bad…

  11. Andy Godfrey Says

    I have SharePoint 2007 & Office 2003. On my document libraries I am using implicit check in/out. However with office 2003 DOC & XLS are opened without any promting. Multiple people can open the files. They are flagged as [Read Only] on the app bar but can be saveed with the original file name. Each peropson can do this meaning that the latest version is the last file saved. In office 2007 Word & Excel ask if the file should be checked out. Is this feature available only by upgrading to 2007. I am getting frustrated users who discover that their edits exist in an old version that was never deemed the latest version, therefore are lost from the live document.

  12. Toni Frankola Says

    @Andy: Even with implicit check-out Word 2003 should still inform you that a document is being edited by someone else… I have seen this a number of times…

    Can you change it to explicit check-out?

  13. Louise Says

    This is my problem:

    I have office small busin 2007 on win xp sp3 installed.
    All my work gets saved on the server.When I open my 2003 docs in word 2007 and make changes the try to “save as” I get the following error : microsoft office word compatibility checker. After i click on continue my screen goes white and pc freezes. What can I do?????

  14. Toni Frankola Says

    @Louise: Can you try using another computer or re-installing Office?

  15. brinda Says

    I have .doc files in the library with metadata. Now i have copied .doc file, saved as .docx and then reupload to the library.
    Now i try to modify the .docx meta data and the same is not saved for .docx.
    works fine with .doc.
    Anyways that i can fix this

  16. Toni Frankola Says

    @Brinda: Huh, chances are you might loose properties during conversion. Can you just change the extension via SharePoint edit properties option?

  17. brinda Says

    thanks toni…
    the properties are not lost. the last saved properties of .doc gets into .docx file. But after conversion i change the properties by selecting Edit properties option from the dropdown and then click on to save. The changes are not saved, it remains same when it was converted.
    When i edit the document, office 2007 gives option to change properties within the document – this works fine but is lengthy properties. Requirement is to Edit only the metadata on selecting Edit properties from the document dropdown.
    is that how it is. or is there a workaround to use Edit properties

  18. brinda Says

    hi toni, is there a work around for this…
    i tried the following which actually worked.
    download a copy of .doc file and converted to .docx,
    right click on the .docx file properties and removed the metadata columns.
    upload the file to the library
    now i am able to edit the metadata and the same is saved.
    but this cannot be done for all the documents in the library(lengthy process) also it looses the initial metadata values.
    Is there a workaround or fix for this.

  19. Toni Frankola Says

    Have you tried using Convert option? Open doc from SharePoint and click Convert in your Word 2007…

  20. Simon Mourier Says


    You can have that 2-ways Excel 2003 sync functionality back with Excel 2007 and 2010 if you install the small free activeX (200K, no dependency whatsoever on anything) available here:

    It reroutes .IQY files associations to itself, so when you click on WSS’s “export to spreadsheet” links, it launches Excel 2007, and creates a 2 way sync WSS list (sorry, “table” as the feature has been renamed in the newly created workbook/sheet.

    Note: you need to run IE as Administrator the first time to install it if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7.

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