Why did Microsoft change from .doc to .docx for saving word documents and .xls to .xlsx for excel documents?
Microsoft implemented an Open Source format called Open XML along with Open Office. The X on docx refers to this. This was first used in Office 27 so this is your minimum requirement for opening modern documents 23 cannot process these (there may be a plugin but I'm not 1% sure).
Is there any way to write programs that interact with Microsoft Office files? For example read in data from a .xlsx and print out to a docx.
The best way to answer many of these questions is always the same... It depends. I did a rather nice interaction between Excel and Access using VBA where my employer was peinting out every Excel file they received (1 's a month) and rekeyed the data into Access. So I wrote a VBA script that referenced the appropriate Excel cells and placed them in the corresponding fields in Access. It saved them about 2 people working full-time for a full month down to one person doing this in about a week (hard to gauge exactly because they would process each previous days file in about an hour a day). I am sure this could be done with Word as well but there was one condition that I told my employer that they had to implement each spreadhseet received could not be modified (structurally). That if the people sending them files that needed to have customized one off exceptions those would need to be handled uniquely but the time savings that they realized made it worth handling those one offs as they came up and only when they came up. Now I am sure you are probably asking if it's possible in order to find out how it's possible... For that I would do a search using VBA and OLE the word and excel or soemthing of that nature.
Why did Microsoft create the Open Office XML format (docx, xlsx, pptx)?
I was a program manager for Microsoft Word from 29 to 211 and one of the areas I worked on was the .docx OOXML format. I can't speak for the other file formats only for Word. There are a couple of big reasons why the OOXML was beneficial (or at least not harmful) to Microsoft from apetitive perspective The main factor I saw was extensibility. Word occupies a key part of many businesses' workflows. For most of its history a Word document was primarily opened by the Word client. However there's more of a need for automation of creating documents today. Let's take creating invoices for example there's no need to spin up Word client now as I can programmatically inject content directly into the XML. This wasn't possible before. So from a platform perspective this was a big win.
Has Microsoft's switch to the .docx/.xlsx/.pptx file formats been considered a success?
The best thing about it is that the file sizes are significantly smaller whenpared with the older formats. There are a number of other advantages including less vulnerabilty to viruses and file corruption etc. and a more open architecture allowing better third-party integration through the XML standard (have to disagree with Josef on the 'locking in'!) The main downside is the lack ofpatibility with older software although there is apatibility tool for Office 23 allowing it to open (but not create) 27 files.
How do I convince my teacher to accept PDF documents for school work? She currently only accepts "editable" MS Office files (docx, xlsx, pptx, etc.).
Why do you want to submit the file as a PDF document? And why should the teacher make an exception for you? BTW - if you teacher is using something like turnitin they may be forced to use word or whatever. As others have pointed out it easy for your teacher to insertments in a Word document and while some versions of Acrobat allow you to edit pdf files that capability is hardly universal. BTW - it not that difficult to convert pdf files to word so if you think youre gaining some sort of security by submitting a pdf file you might want to rethink that position.
How does Dropbox display Office files (.doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, .pptx) on the browser?
They use Crocodoc s now owned by Box.