Microsoft Office 2007 XML Patent Infringement Update – No reason to panic

As of January 1, 2010, Microsoft had to stop selling copies of Microsoft Office 2007 (in particular, Word) that uses a certain XML feature. That feature will no longer be supported, and I got a couple questions this morning on the impact of this change. Some X9 systems generate reports in Office 2007 format, and I imagine lots of other systems around the world do, too, so obviously it’s important to pay attention and check.

The feature in question is actually Custom XML Markup, and this is not a huge change in Office functionality. Unless your company uses this specific feature to integrate Word documents into other business systems, you’ll probably never notice any difference. So, let’s break this down:

Geek speak, if you please (Microsoft KB 978951): http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/978951

This is what the feature looks like (pink representations of XML):

Selected text in an inline tag.

What versions of Office are affected?
Only Office 2007.

Once this update is applied to my system, can I still open documents created by someone else, or documents I created a while ago?
Yes. This update will not affect your ability to open or use previously created documents.

Will the .DOCX format remain the same?
Yes, according to Microsoft’s KB, the Open XML format (what you know as the .docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc file extensions) is not affected.

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