Docx files are a new format introduced by Microsoft for their Office Suite and in particular MS Word since 2007. As part of Microsoft’s commitment to open file formats the docx extension is a file packaged in a zipfile with all of its formatting and other properties stored in XML files, including the actual text of the document.
Whilst it is possible to open a docx file with an unzip utility by renaming the file to zip instead of docx, in practice this doesn’t help the user much since the XML files need to be opened and read together otherwise all formatting will be lost. In an emergency it is possible to read only the XML file containing the text, and using a text editor delete the XML code.
For this reason software such as MS Word 2007, of which docx is the native file format, are generally needed to open docx files. Preserving the formatting, for example tab spacing, headers, embedded objects, font selection, paragraph formatting is often as important to a user as the actual text.
Users who don’t have MS Office 2007 installed on their computers, but who have either MS Office 2003, or MS Office 2000 can download a free plugin from Microsoft that updates these versions and provides native compatibility with docx. Microsoft Works 9.0 will also open and save docx files.
Opening a docx file in any of the above applications is a simple routine, simply use the file menu, and the ‘open’ option which opens a file manager window allowing you to navigate to the folder or location where the docx file is stored. Alternatively, use the search box in Windows, type the name of the file you want to open, and then right mouse click on the file and select the ‘open’ or ‘open with’ option.
In the event that MS Office, or MS Word is not installed, newer versions of OpenOffice and AbiWord are able to open docx files, tho WordPerfect isn’t yet able to do so. WordPerfect users will need to install additional software such as Microsoft’s docx viewer, or ask the original creator of the document to save the file in doc format.