Excel and its backward compatibility

Backward compatibility is the ability for a new iteration of a program (or any piece of hardware) to handle some older variation of an input. For excel, this is important as several versions of excel exist. Forward compatibility is also important for excel, as it is not uncommon to have to share excel files with someone that has an older version of excel. Given that, it is highly important to ensure that problems are minimized when dealing with different versions of excel than your own.

To use a previous version of excel while using excel 2010 or 2007, it is fairly simple; the easiest method to do so, is to work under compatibility mode. Compatibility mode allows excel 2007/2010 to open the file in its original format without formatting (since each excel file is different); in addition, by doing so, anyone using that previous version of excel wouldn’t have any issues opening the file. File converters that convert excel files from one version to another can also be utilized. Now depending on the extent of file sharing needed, if you are ready to hand over your file to someone working with a 97-2003 version, you can save your file in the format “Excel 97 -- 2003 Workbook” (for slightly more detailed instructions click here link to slightly more detailed instructions ). It is also possible for excel to check for compatibility problems and to fix them, however, this is mostly limited to simple issues.

Sadly, for earlier versions of excel (2003, 2000, 97 etc) there aren’t any direct built-in solutions; you must manually check for compatibility issues. Fortunately, as time progresses those versions of excel won’t be as common place. In addition, thanks to excel 2007/2010 these issues are minimized. Nevertheless, the importance of backwards compatibility requires more sophisticated methods to ensure perfect transfers.