Friday, February 23, 2007

Dag-Øyvind Paulsen has created a useful service for people who receive Office 2007 Word documents (.docx) and PowerPoint files (.pptx). His service allows you to upload the docx/pptx file to his web server, where the system he has put together will convert the Office 2007 files to classic Office 2003/XP/2000/97/etc. style files (of the .doc and .ppt form).

The services are called, appropriately, DOCX2DOC and PPTX2PPT.

While I suppose one could argue that providing a service that enables you to go backward from a strict technology standpoint is Not A Good ThingTM, there is a market out there for people who:

  1. Don't have Office 2007.
  2. Don't want to (or can't) install the respective Office viewers.
  3. Don't want to (or can't) ask the original sender to convert the file and resend it.

So, for those people this is an interesting service.

The creator has automated the conversion process and made it possible to do the transformations online in much the same way Office 2007 allows you to do Save-As and then choose the legacy formats. The service is offered on the honor system: If you use it, you're asked to pay $2 on the page where you download your converted file. Running a system like this costs money, and while on the order of 600 people a day have converted files in the week or so the service has been online, only a very, very small handful (less than you can count on one hand) have paid. If you read this and use the service I certainly hope you'll add to the paid-user count.

The process is rather simple from the end-user standpoint. Browse to the service web page for .DOCX or . PPTX files, browse to find the file on your computer that you wish to convert, choose the output format you prefer (you can choose from the legacy office formats, as well as .RTF, .TXT and .HTM), and then click the resulting hyperlink to download your converted file. It's pretty slick.

Being the security wonk I am, my antennae immediately went up as I thought of business users uploading potentially sensitive documents to the system, where they have to be stored in both the original and converted form for at least some period of time in order for a system like this to work. Dag-Øyvind responded by saying that he agrees, and that he warns people on the web site not to upload private, confidential or sensitive files.

His system appears to be well-secured (I did some quick checking and there is no way to browse for files without knowing the actual filenames) and while the file-naming and identification convention is strong (it uses filenames built up with a date-time value plus a randomly generated GUID, so you have to know the unique and random name in order to access any given file), the ultimate risk on a system like this is the guy who runs it. The files are cleaned up (deleted) from the system automatically every day. But, he says one should realize that since he controls the system, he has the ability to view any and all files up until the time they are automatically deleted. In other words, he's the biggest risk. I like the honesty in that statement. I asked him if the original and converted files could be deleted more often than once a day, and he said they could be and that he would consider doing so.

If you have a need to convert and don't have Office 2007 handy, this might be the right service for you.

Some technical details about how it works are available at: http://www.docx2doc.com/Newbies-Guide-To-docx.aspx



Add/Read: Comments [13]
Friday, February 23, 2007 5:01:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:29:55 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Why wouldn't you just install the FREE Office 2007 converters for Office 2000/2003 and simply *open* the docx files?
Saturday, February 24, 2007 9:20:43 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hey Greg, thanks for the review - I`m glad you point out the security issues here and make people aware of both positives and negatives.

And to Scott: there is a huge demand for this service as a lot of people are unable to install the compatibility pack (not administrators, not on their own pc, on a corporate or university network, in a hurry or use MS Word 97 which doesn`t support 2007 files at all) However, I point out to users that they should look into a more permanent solution in the future.
Saturday, March 10, 2007 1:42:49 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
yoiu can get if for free at http://www.docx-converter.com
Peter Schmidt
Tuesday, March 27, 2007 7:23:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Yup, some 2000 ppl a day are happily converting their files for free @ www.docx-converter.com :)
Monday, June 11, 2007 9:43:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

Zamzar is simply gr8....
i got my word doc back...
thanks a lot.
neelam
Friday, June 22, 2007 5:59:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
oh! what's a grat work
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:05:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)


The FREE Office 2007 conversion tools are installed on my PC, but do not work. I have uninstalled Office 2003, and tried numerous times to reinstall the tools, and whenever it tries to convert a doc, they fail.
WillF
Saturday, October 13, 2007 10:56:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Scott wrote "Saturday, February 24, 2007 12:29:55 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Why wouldn't you just install the FREE Office 2007 converters for Office 2000/2003 and simply *open* the docx files?
Scott Hanselman"

Well Scott the answer is simple. If you are at work without Administrator privileges and the Converter is outside of your IT Departments security plan then you can't so then you are stuck with a file that you can't use. Case in point I'm in the military where you just can't go installing random software or free upgrades without the entire beaurocratic process that takes years to complete. THIS is why you need ONLINE converters.
Muhammad Saadiq
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 10:39:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hey....

I took hell lot of pain for the whole day to convert it. tried XP, 2000, 2001, 2003 but all in vein.

But look at Zamzar - they solved my problem within a min. Thanks a lot!! :)
Sunday, December 09, 2007 3:11:33 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Why can't you simply convert your pptx files to ppt by clicking save as, ppt then uploading it with mediafire,rapidshare or any other file hoster?
Sunday, June 15, 2008 11:29:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
How does it work I don't understand it :( help me
Desperate Julia
Saturday, September 20, 2008 8:59:47 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
The official MS converters DO work for Office 97. So anyone with office 97 can just use the official one, if you like. However, for the official converter Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows Vista is needed.
HJJ
Tuesday, September 23, 2008 9:07:08 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
did they open up yesterday
henry
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