Why won’t .DOC die?

It happened again–had to send out text in .DOC format.

For those of you too young to remember. .DOC is the original Microsoft Word format. In fact it’s been upgraded several times; according to Wikipedia, there are 4 versions dating back to the MS-DOS days. And .DOC is a horrid file format, and that’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

Why? Because .DOC files can contain Word macros, and Word macros, while very useful, are a very easy way to get infected with a macro virus.

Newer versions of Word go out of their way to identify and stop you from running Word macros, which helps, but Things Can Happen. So what’s the best way to stop this?

Easy: use the newer .DOCX format. .DOCX files don’t allow macros at all; for that Word now gives you .DOCM files. Never heard of them? I’m not surprised, not many people use Word macros, let alone share them. Aside from malicious people.

So why do we have fiction contests and agents saying “send me .DOC only, not .DOCX”? It makes zero sense to me. You can read .DOCX all the way back to Word 2007, or with the free OpenOffice. It’s a more robust, and more compact file format. I can’t see any downside for anyone with a computer from the last decade. (And the rest of you, I’m sorry to say, have probably already been quietly hacked.)

Need more reasons to use .DOCX? See X Hits the Spot: Why .DOCX is Better than .DOC for Authors Using Word.