We do not maintain a collection of all the differing versions of
every piece of software which every vendor has issued over the years.
For marketing reasons, proprietary vendors change
internal file formats, often incompatably, and without
rhyme or reason by them. No one can afford the cost, or to spend the maintainence
time that would be required, and so standards for data
interchange develop. These are embodied in RFC's, nationals standards
board statements (ISO's), and so forth. A well stated vendor-neutral
statement of this is
here - (local PS
The marketing assumption is that their customer
base will buy the 'latest and greatest' which they produce, and install
it on all their workforce's desktops. For example, with
Microsoft, this cycle of obsoleting prior
versions and Operating System levels is on about a
six month minor release or comprehensive patch, 18 month major release,
and 4 year obsoleting cycle. This is not just a Microsoft issue.
Apple has run on a three year major release cycle
with a minor at each annual Mac World. One proprietary system vendor
recently (January 2002) made the following statement.
Can you determine who the author is without looking at the source (where the
author is identified)? Is there any mention of standards conformance?
While this is fine for vendor profits (particularly in the
low end PC market 'shrink-wrapped software' segment), it means
that end users are turned into 'guinea pigs,' testing just-released
code with all the instability and lost productivity which that
It also tends to leave people using
other computing solutions (Apple Mac and OS/X, Sun One, and
the various Unix/*nix [POSIX standard compliant] forms) out
in the cold. While the
other platforms can and have repeatedly adapted to read and write the
Office 97|2000|2002|XP formats, there is a lag
until the developers can reverse engineer Microsoft's or Apple's latest.
Particularly difficult cases are the following file formats:
Word -- Word 2002 from Word 97: major format change, with no
Access -- Access 2000 from Access 97: incompatable file format
change with no reversion path
Visio -- Visio 2002 is a major change from the prior independent
Visio Corporation version 5 format, with no back conversion
If you have sent us a 'attachment' in one of these later formats, it is
unlikely that we will be able to read it. We send a reference to this
page so you can print and resend it, and anyone can receive it,
in a format anyone can read.
All is not lost
The quickest and most simple approach is to simply print
the attachment as a PostScript or PDF file, and send us that file.
All platforms, (yes: even Microsoft), have provided or had available
free PostScript print drivers. Microsoft has included one since
Windows 95 in all of their operating system releases. Apple, Sun and Unix
have always had them natively.
To do this is a simple process of installing and using a PostScript
printer driver in a Windows environment:
Install the PostScript printer driver:
-- Mouse as follows: Start | Settings | Printers, (New window opens)
-- Add printer (New Window appears), then,
-- Next | Local printer | Manufacturer: Apple | Printer: LaserWriter
| Next , then,
-- Destination: FILE: | Next | (Printer name) | Next, then,
-- (Test page panel) Yes -- a Windows 3.11 style File navigation box
may pop up
-- Point its file save location to:
C:\My Documents\, and set the file name to:
test.ps (standing for a Test PostScript file)
This content may now be viewed by anyone with the freely available
As an aside, you may wonder: Why do I have to go through
all this to print a PostScript format document? Why is
the Microsoft product line crippled?
is that in the mid-Nineties Apple, Adobe and Microsoft were
locked in a battle for how commercial inter-Operating System print
content was going to be exchanged. Apple and Adobe (and
'big iron' Unixtm) had already long since settled on
and included native
PostScript (and later PDF) capability. Microsoft was trying to
displace that format by pretending it did not exist.
Microsoft has not gotten over this, and thus this outline.
As to PDF's, even now,
one has to either buy a 'Distiller' from Adobe,
or use an Open Source
variant to produce PDF's in the Windows
See: our discussion in
Part II of this series
Use that 'printer" to your attachment content to a File:
-- Use File | Print, and select the destination of Print to File, placing
the content on your Desktop.
Then just navigate to the saved print file, select high-light it,
and Right-Click SendTo the file as an email attachment as usual.
If you are unable to locate the PostScript printer drivers in an
Apple or Microsoft based computing environment, this
page at Adobe may help ... .
Another approach, which requires just a single setup of a conversion
processor, is to run a PDF publishing gateway; see the
freely available doc2pdf project at:
This project relies on a dedicated convertor server, and use of
limited function (i.e., 'crippled') Read Only
converter tools for some Microsoft-supported
platforms available from Microsoft here -
Local copies for
[ Excel ]
[ PowerPoint ]
[ Visio ]
[ Word ]
; and Lotus
[ Notes ].