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Office XP and Windows CE Compatibility

Chris Tilley | Editor-in-Chief
24 June 2001

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When participating in a On-line demonstration of the new Office XP from Microsoft Studios, I asked about the compatibility of Office XP with Windows CE, especially with the older versions of Pocket Word and Excel found in Windows CE 1 and 2. At the time, during the live on-line broadcast, they didn't know but the presenter, Cleve Kingston promised to find out on my behalf.

A couple of days later I received an e-mail from Cleve, showing that my question had been passed on to Bobby Moore from the Windows CE team. Mr More replied to me the next day stating that the basic functionality within Office would still work fully in version of Pocket Office. 

"I haven't really used this functionality very deeply" - Bobby Moore Windows CE Team

The File types between Office 2000 and Office XP remain unchanged, thus as long as you are running the latest version of ActiveSync you should be guaranteed the same compatibility as with Office 2000 documents. Admittedly Mr Moore expressed that he hadn't used the function in any detail.

Documents will open as Office 95 / 97 / 2000 conversions have, allowing you at least to view the document content. Advances in the Desktop Office Productivity software has accelerated faster than the advances in cross compatibility leaving the humble Pocket Office suite looking suitably dated.

At the same time the question was passed on to Baris Cetinok another member of the Windows CE team. He replied to me explaining that the basic levels of formatting found in Word are RTF based, Pocket Word fully supports RTF documents.

"The basic format for Word is RTF..."- Baris Cetinok Windows CE Team

It is any advanced features that are found outside of this basic area within the .doc format of Microsoft Word that will be limited in functionality or removed during the conversion. This included the new Office Smart Tags on which the latest incarnation of Office bases one of its biggest selling points.

This lack of compatibility may frustrate some users who have just purchased a Windows CE 3 device who now find themselves restricted by the loss of the new Smart Tag feature. Especially as this was originally Microsoft's vision for its Windows CE operating system. Microsoft CDF 'Active Channels' and Mobile Channels was a built in feature of CE than never took off. 

We shall see in future updates to newer Windows CE operating systems and the forthcoming release of Windows Talisker which remains in development as to how Microsoft aim to improve the compatibility between its Mainstream desktop Office Suite and its little PDA brother.

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Tags | Editorial