Microsoft Word documents

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Can AbiWord open Microsoft Word® documents?

AbiWord does a reasonably good job opening most Microsoft Word documents. However, no non-Microsoft word processor can be 100% Word compatible. Developing good MS Word filters is a very difficult process. With each new Word release, Microsoft also makes considerable changes to the Word file format.

If the Word document you're trying to open with AbiWord has complicated tables, text boxes, embedded spreadsheets, and so forth, it may not work as expected. Please bear with us as we work to improve AbiWord's MS Word compatibility. If you have a Word document which fails to load, please use our website's "Report a Bug" feature. Be sure to include the document with your report to help us analyze the problem.

Saving as .doc

AbiWord can currently save in a Word-compatible .doc format. This is done by saving in Rich Text Format (.rtf) with a .doc extension. This means the document may include styled text (specific fonts; bold, italic, and other styling; colors, and so forth), HTML, tables, and other standard formatting. Word has no trouble opening these files correctly.

Some people have suggested that this file-saving method is "cheating" and doesn't represent true Word compatibility. However, Microsoft itself has a history of considering Rich Text files "Word-compatible": In Windows 98, the Wordpad application includes the option to save files as Microsoft Word 6.0 .doc files. It turns out that these files are actually Rich Text files saved with the .doc extension.

Therefore, because the Rich Text format covers the great majority of users's formatting needs, we have no plans to enable AbiWord to create actual binary Word files (see Bug 2565.)

Saving Word documents you have edited

Many users have wondered why, when they try to Save a Microsoft Word document, the Save As window appears. This is because of the small possibility of losing some of the information contained in the original file. The last thing we want is for users to lose data, so we take this precaution to be sure that users do not inadvertently overwrite their original files. If they do so, they must deliberately choose to do so.

Word file formats

Word is the word processor from Microsoft (often called MS Word) and natively supports DOC files format. It also supports RTF (Rich Text Format) and TXT and can export HTML documents. Word 2007 natively supports the Office XML (Office Open) format. This format has a .DOCX extension.

Word and Word files have undergone many changes in functions and file formats. The most important are:

  • Word 97 - This is the common format for exchange of Windows DOC files. All later tools have an option to save in this format although some file features may be lost.
  • Word 2000 - This is the oldest version that can generate LIT file content using a plugin and it is the oldest version that will support conversion to DOCX format.
  • Word 2002 - This is the oldest version supported by security updates.
  • Word 2003 - The last version to use DOC as its native format. Can save in Office XML and DOCX with an update.
  • Word 2007 - This version uses Office DOCX as the native save format. The file is zip compressed and used in the compressed form. It will typically have a .DOCX file extension.
  • Word 2008 includes MacOS X support.
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