Why Google > Microsoft: Working around the Pre-release Issue

Just now, I was looking up some old Microsoft Word files that I had written a while back. After taking a little while to find the right ones, I double clicked and got this incredibly helpful message:

“This file was created in a pre-release version of Word 2007 and cannot be opened in this version.”

Of course, I had create the file in the beta release of Word 2007 and now that I have Office 2010, it wouldn’t open. You would think that this is slightly insane, considering Microsoft didn’t actually explicit warn me that any files I created in the beta version would actually not be readable later. (I wouldn’t have minded, I would just liked to have been warned.)

This is the interesting bit. My first thought was to email myself a copy of the file, and see whether Gmail’s Word document previewer could open it. Well …. turns out it did. With no problems. I then thought it would be interesting to look up the official “fix” for the situation and found this webpage from Microsoft Support telling me that what I should really do is either find the Administrative templates or I could edit the registry.

Seriously? Edit the registry? Just to read a Word file, which clearly, didn’t pose that much of a problem for a non-MS previewer?

Yeah. This is the reason why Google wins over Microsoft.