Unless you’ve updated your PC to Microsoft Office 2007+ or Word 2007+ (by no means required, since earlier versions of Microsoft’s suite still work well for many folks), you might be confounded on occasion if you’re presented with a file with the DOCX extension. (DOCX is the native word-processing file format that the latest versions of Word use.) Rather than fussing with and installing Microsoft’s Compatibility Packs, you can use Windows 7’s or 8's version of WordPad to open DOCX.
To track down WordPad (it’s a bit buried, as usual), from the Start menu, go to All Programs > Accessories > WordPad or type wordpad in the search box.
Once you're in WordPad, you can simply use the Open command to open a DOCX file:
This is a handy solution if you only encounter DOCX files once in a while. WordPad has semi-adopted the ribbon interface of the latest Office, so it might take some getting used to, but you should be able to save your DOCX document into a more amendable file format (including the earlier DOC format for Word files) without too much trouble. Most of the formatting should be maintained. (Puzzlingly, Windows 7/8 WordPad seems to be less competent at opening 'original' DOC files, losing the formatting and peppering the files with header gibberish, in file tests.)
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