May 08

Excel 2007 File Format Error?

An upgrade to Microsoft Office 2007 for my corporate laptop was an option I had last week. This new software update was preceded by a dialog box asking if I really wanted to install it? Of course I did. My inner response was, “Are you kidding me? I asked for it. Why wouldn’t I want it? Sure, I’ll take it!” So the update was advertised as a package via our SMS architecture and the goods arrived after a few hours of connection time.

Perhaps I did not make it clear in my original request that I would receive this package using our VPN client because it took two pushes of the installation package. After all, I’m a field-based employee. The only way I EVER connect to the internal network is via VPN. The first package timed-out twice and then a new package labeled “Office 2007 VPN Version” appeared as an option. Ah Ha! Now we’re getting somewhere. The total package ended-up weighing in at around 850Mb.

The very first document I opened with the new Office 2007 Installation was an Excel spreadsheet sent to me from a colleague as a file attachment to an e-mail message. BAM! Warning number one popped-up and it looks like this: (Click to view 100% zoom)

Excel 2007 Error

The file you are trying to open is in a different format than specified by the file extension? Since when does XLS stand for anything other than an Excel spreadsheet? According to Microsoft, this is by design!

The warning message is a user-notification function that was added to Excel 2007. The warning message can help prevent unexpected problems that might occur because of possible incompatibility between the actual content of the file and the file name extension.

Their resolution to the issue is to click “Yes” if you trust the source of the file. C’Mon Microsoft, this is ludicrous! An adjustment of the user notification feature is available to select between three states:

0. Display the warning message, and do not open the file.
1. Display the warning message, and let the user decide whether to open the file (default).
2. Open the file, and do not display the warning message.

Unfortunately, the only way to adjust this election is by using a Group Policy setting or by using Registry Editor. Isn’t that handy?

The Registry Editor option is the least painful and goes something like this:

  1. Run the Registry Editor
  2. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
    1. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Excel\Security
  3. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
  4. Type ExtensionHardening, and then press ENTER.
  5. Right-click ExtensionHardening, and then click Modify.
  6. In the Value data box, type the value data, and then click OK.

The appropriate value data matches the numbers for the three states listed above, 0, 1, or 2. Zero is the right value for me. Shutting off that annoying feature made me feel so good!

No matter how fully featured a new product appears to be, it always comes with more than we need. The user notification function is one of those unnecessary features.


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