How can I open a Word 2007 file without Microsoft Word?

"I have a .docx file someone sent me that I think is a Microsoft Word 2007 file. I have Word 2003, but it won't open the file. Is there a way I can open a Word 2007 file without the right version of Microsoft Word?"

Microsoft made some changes to Word when it came out with Word 2007 and carried many of those changes on into Word 2010. Among them was a change in the files created. Fortunately they didn't leave us all in the lurch - they provided software you can download to make those Word 2007 files work with older versions of Word. There are also some other options for opening those Word files if you don't have any version of Microsoft Office installed.

If you have an old version of Microsoft Word, like Word 2000, Word XP, or Word 2003, you can install the Office Compatibility Pack. This pack will also make newer files for PowerPoint and Excel work with your version of Word. If the person who created the document did some special formatting unique to Word 2007 or Word 2010, you will lose the formatting, but the document will open.

A second option is to import the .docx file into Google Docs. In most cases, Google Docs will open Word 2007 files, allowing you to easily read and edit the file. Again you may run into a situation where some formatting won't display, depending on how the document was created, but you should be able to read and edit any of the text in the document.