Pre-Windows Mobile Office Files vs. Windows Vista WMDC

Reader Patrick (PHH) says:
WMDC imports all my Word and Excel files (I have over 1200 on my pda) in ppc format (pws and pxl). I thought it was the fault of Office XP vs Vista (I could read those files fine on Office XP installed on an XP pc)and that when I bought Office 2007 I’d be able to read the ppc files on my PC. No such luck.

It will import rtf files directly, so I’ve translated literally hundreds of doc files into rtf format; however I don’t see any workaround for the spreadsheet files. I even tried openoffice on my Vista machine. It won’t read those files either.

I’m running ppc 2003 on an iPAQ 2755. Have been using them FINE for over a year on XP and using various versions of ActiveSync.

I’m close to paying the computer shop that built my machine for me to revert to XP from on my brand new machine unless I can get some answers.

Is there any way to get Microsoft to talk about these problems for brand new software?

Patrick: Welcome to the wonderful world of poor initial design decisions! The original Windows CE Handheld PC designers decided to create unique Word and Excel file formats a decade ago. When Mobile Office components came to the Pocket PC, they kept the same broken design that required a translation before the files could be read on the desktop. This led to all kinds of problems for Windows CE/Mobile users for years. This finally changed in Windows Mobile 5 based Pocket PCs. But, that was too late for your aging Windows Mobile 2003 based iPAQ.

I’m not syncing old 2003 or 2003 2nd Edition Pocket PCs with my Vista box. So, I can’t test your situation at the moment. However, it looks like Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) actually reverts back to ActiveSync 3.8 code when old legacy devices are partnered. This means that there should be an option that becomes visible when you sync an old device that lets you check or uncheck the Office Mobile translation feature (it is turned off by default since Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices use native DOC and XLS [but not DOCX and XLSX] file formats).

You might also want to consider upgrading two or three generations and move up to a WiMo 5 or 6 generation device.