We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Cannot open xlsx files

Last Modified: 2014-03-29
A relative of mine has a computer running Windows Vista (64-bit) which has Office XP (which I think is Office 2002). I know that beginning with Office 2007, the default file extensions for Word, Excel and PowerPoint are docx, xlsx and pptx, respectively, and that prior versions of Office cannot open those files unless they install the Office Compatibility Pack.
     This relative was recently emailed some docx and xlsx files. I installed the Office Compatibility Pack and now they can open the docx files. But they still cannot open the xlsx files; when they try they get an error message saying "This file is not in a recognizable format" and then Excel opens but its full of gibberish (see screen-shot).
     I thought maybe they needed to have have Office Service Pack 3 installed. I checked Windows update but it said there were no updates available, which made me think I must already have it installed. But just to be sure I installed the service pack anyway. No change.
     Why can't they open xlsx files?
Watch Question

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Back in those ancient days, Windows Updates and Office Updates were separate. There are 3 Service Packs for Office XP (all downloadable) and I think you can go the an Office XP tool and run Updates under Help or something like that.

So look for updates in Office XP and then look also for Microsoft Update on the XP machine in IE 8 as it is possible Microsoft Update (distinct from Windows Update) may run the Office Update.

Make sure Office is up to date.

Also run an Office Repair from within one of the Office applications.

... Thinkpads_User
minimize use office 2003 and Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for office 2003
This one is on us!
(Get your first solution completely free - no credit card required)


Unlock the solution to this question.
Join our community and discover your potential

Experts Exchange is the only place where you can interact directly with leading experts in the technology field. Become a member today and access the collective knowledge of thousands of technology experts.

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.