Microsoft…you’re kidding right? Now that Service Pack 3 for MS Office 2003 has been released more and more users are being confronted with a new error message when trying to open or save files in older formats.
- When you try to open a file, the file does not open, and you receive one of the following error messages:
You are attempting to open a file that is blocked by your registry policy setting.
- When you try to save a file, the file is not saved, and you receive the following error message:
You are attempting to save a file that is blocked by your registry policy setting.
So what’s happening here? Well, without your permission SP3 (and this is built in to Office 2007) is modifying your group policy settings to prevent you from saving and/or opening very old versions of Microsoft Office on your machine. If that’s not bad enough, there is a whole list of file formats from competing vendors that you will no longer be able to save to or open via Microsoft Office. So for example, let’s say you want to save an Excel spreadsheet in .wks format so you can import it into a Lotus Notes database. No longer allowed without changing your registry settings. Or let’s say you want to save a Word document in an older Word or Mac version – again, no dice. Microsoft says the file blocking feature was implemented because of security holes in those older product formats, but at usual they seem to be “protecting” us from working with competitors products (read IBM), or just plain forcing upgrades on older users with perfectly good software.
The problem is especially troublesome in Excel where users routinely manipulate tables and data created in other applications, or import existing excel data into legacy applications.The file blocking is implemented by way of registry changes reflecting group policy changes for your user account. The new registry settings also give administrators (or hackers) the ability to restrict even more files, including the native Office formats themselves. If you want to see the full list of files that are blocked by default click here. If you’re tired and just want to go back to the good old days of freedom of choice read on.
In each of it’s relevant knowledge base articles Microsoft provides a work-around that requires you to manipulate some fairly obscure registry settings. But if you’re like most users you’ll want the new blocks to be removed completely. So without fanfare Microsoft has also released 4 registry patches (one for each Office application and one for Corel) that you can install automatically to remove all the blocks.
Just download each of these, double-click them to update your registry and you’re back where you were yesterday (and should have been today).