Docx on a Mac: still rough without Microsoft Word

I’ve been living on a Mac recently, while thoroughly investigating the new Snow Leopard. One of the questions that interests me: how difficult is it to use a Mac in a Windows-centric environment? Once facet of this is Microsoft’s latest document formats, introduced with Office 2007: docx, xlsx and pptx. What if you get sent one of these, and don’t have Mac Office 2008 installed?

I downloaded a document on Azure blob storage from Microsoft – a random example. I opened it in four different applications: Apple’s TextEdit, which comes with docx support built-in; Microsoft Word 2008; Pages from Apple’s iWork 09, and NeoOffice, the Mac-specific port of OpenOffice. In the image below, Word is on the left, TextEdit on the right, and NeoOffice in the foreground.

Word 2008 opened it perfectly, as far as I could tell.

TextEdit crashed on the first attempt. On the second attempt it loaded, preserving the text but losing most of the formatting. Not a bad result, considering the scope of the application.

Pages was the best of the three non-Microsoft applications. It gave me a warning about paragraph borders being lost, but did not mention that the diagrams were messed up (Pages is on the right):

Image corruption in Pages with docx

NeoOffice made a fair stab at the formatting, but included some extraneous characters (you can spot these at top left in the screen grab) and omitted the pictures completely.

As a final test, I used Word’s Save As feature to convert the document to plain old .doc. This opened fine in Pages and in NeoOffice, though I have to say TextEdit gave a mixed result: the formatting was better, but the hyperlinked table of contents came out worse in .doc than in .docx.

Conclusion: don’t send .docx to Mac users unless you are sure that they have the latest Microsoft Word.

Related posts:

  1. Word 2007 bug: ask for RTF, get DOCX
  2. OpenDocument comes to Microsoft Word and Excel
  3. Office Web Apps better then Open Office for .docx on Linux
  4. Word 2010 ugly font in .doc format
  5. A Word 2007 annoyance: disappearing vertical scroll bar

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