It finally happened. My wife got some MS Office 2007 .docx files in e-mail. For any readers who have been under a rock, the .docx file is Microsoft’s zipped xml file format. This is similar to the format that Microsoft appear to have shoved through the International Standards Organization (ISO) fast-track process after being established as a European Computing Manufacturers Association (ECMA) standard.
I suspect the sender doesn’t even know she created a .docx file. If she left the Microsoft standard of hiding known extensions, she likely assumes it’s a normal word document file. (By the way, hiding the filename extensions makes Microsoft complicit in a lot of phishing exploits.)
One of the e-mails was sent at least three times with no apparent changes to the attachments. I suspect one (or more) recipients of the e-mail sent the sender a reply that one of the attachments couldn’t be opened.
For users who have Microsoft Office (or don’t mind Microsoft Office-related software) on their machines, there are updates which add the ability to read .docx files. For people who, like me, eschew the Microsoft Office route for an open alternative like OpenOffice finding out how to open these files can be a challenging experience, especially in Windows.
I was lucky in that I found odf-converter-integrator. Installing this in Windows gives an option to open Word 2007 files. The program performs the conversion in the temporary files area and then passes the new .odt file to OpenOffice. Other options which I found required multiple steps for the user.
In my reading, I found references that in Ubuntu 8.04, the .docx can be opened by OpenOffice. I forwarded the e-mail to an account that I use on Ubuntu 8.04. Sure enough, I had an option in Evolution to open the file in OpenOffice, and it displayed identically to the versions in Windows.