Opening old Word files with Word 2008

Reader Jim Harper feels like Word 2008 has severed his ties with the past. He writes:

I’m running Tiger and when I upgraded to Microsoft Office 2008 from Office 2004 I cannot open Word files created with my 90s Microsoft Word versions. Any solution available?

Yes. Start by updating your copy of Office to the very recently released Microsoft Office for Mac 12.1.1 Update. This update is supposed to address an issue where older Word files won’t open when you double-click them.

I use the phrase "supposed to" in this context because it may not work. Microsoft has issued contradictory information on this subject. In the support note linked above, Microsoft states that the 12.1.1 Update “fixes an issue that prevents Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac Service Pack 1 (SP1) from opening Word documents when you double-click the document or when you download the document from a Web site.”

Yet, just below this helpful tidbit appears a link to Knowledge Base document 953266, which states that “The Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.1 Update blocks users from opening older Word for Mac documents by using the methods that are mentioned in the 'Symptoms' section.” And those symptoms include double-clicking on a document, dragging a document to the Word 2008 for Mac program icon, dragging a document to the Word 2008 for Mac program icon that is in the Dock, and executing an AppleScript that uses the Finder to open a Microsoft Word document.

And the reason? Apparently these older documents may pose a security threat and opening them in such ways puts you at risk.

Of course Microsoft is happy to let you open them by choosing Open from the File menu, which is somehow more secure because… uh, it’s more inconvenient?

Beats the hell out of me.

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