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Compatibility pack lets Vista run older Office

The Baltimore Sun

My teenager's computer with the Windows XP version of Microsoft Office has died. We purchased a new computer for her and could not find one with Windows XP, so we ended up getting one with Vista. No one seems to know if we can load the Windows XP Office onto her computer or if I have to go out and buy Office 2007 for Vista.

- Jackie Hall

On the upside, there is no trouble loading earlier versions of Microsoft Office such as Office 2003 on computers running the Vista operating system, which as you note are just about the only ones available in stores anymore. So, while the computer industry is twisting your arm to acquire a Vista machine, you needn't fret over adding the expensive new Office 2007.

On the downside, there are vexing compatibility issues because Microsoft added so many bells and whistles to Office 2007 that they can be contained only in a new file type, such as .docx in Word. Unfortunately .docx files cannot be read by the earlier versions of Office that the overwhelmingly majority of people are still using.

So, Microsoft offers a compatibility pack that can be downloaded to let Office 2000/XP/2003 view Office 2007 documents but with a number of features of 2007 absent. Go to www.support.microsoft.com and use the search term "Office 2007 compatibility."

I have my travel pictures in a slide show, with titles, and now want to add music. I don't like the canned music provided by the program and would like to use some of my CD collection to provide appropriate background music. Could you suggest some software to convert CDs to (I guess) MP3s, then to add to the soundtrack on the storyboard? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

- Janice Terlet, earthlink.net

Even though you don't say which of the many photo-slide-show-creating programs you are using, I can show you how to turn your own store-bought CDs into the MP3 files you need and, more important, how to find them and drag them into the time line on your software.

If it were a snake, the required program would have bit ya, as my dear, old mother used to say. The Windows Media Player built into your computer's operating system will let you insert CDs into the machine and order them ripped (recorded) into a variety of file types, including the universal MP3 format.

I'd venture that the majority of folks who listen to their music using Windows haven't dipped deep enough into the various tools to know about this feature.

Here's the drill:

Open your CD tray and insert a traditional type of music disc. Windows probably will automatically open the Windows Media Player. In some cases, you will get a prompt asking what you want to do with the disc, and you need to select playing it in the Media Player.

When the Media Player display appears, give a click to the little arrow below the word RIP and then open the format subheading that pops up. You will get a choice of various Windows-oriented music formats and also the MP3 that you need to drag and drop into your slide-show program's display.

Once the computer has ripped your CDs, you can click on My Documents and then My Music, where you will find a folder with the cover of your CD. Inside will be each tune as an MP3 file, available for drag-and-drop into your homemade travelogue.

askjimcoates@gmail. com

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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