Why I don't accept .doc files

Why don't I like to receive Microsoft Word Documents? There are a number of reasons for this, but you should carefully consider whether you want to send or receive Word Documents.
Please note that although I am asking you not to send me Word document files, my main aim is to discourage you from sending anyone these files. I'm happy to ignore your attachments and the risks they carry, but others may not. I'm not sure that they will appreciate an apology afterwards. The biggest problem here is ignorance, not malice. Here's how to save a file as a small, rich text format file. This type of file contains most of the formatting information in your original Word document, but is much smaller, cannot contain viruses and doesn't have all the history stored.
  1. Open (or create) your document file
  2. Choose File/Save As
  3. Choose Save As type Rich Text Format (*.rtf)
  4. Check that the file name now ends with .rtf
  5. Click on the Save button
Do you have any other reasons you choose not to receive Microsoft Word documents? Or do you have some particular compelling reason why you do choose to send and receive Word documents? If so, please let me know!

Unfortunately, there are people who go into something like PANIC! when asked to do something difficult, like for example, saving a file in something other than Word Document format. With assistance, I recently managed to calm someone down enough to listen and be shown how to save files as .RTF and by the time I arrived home, I had a copy of a rich text file from this person in my inbox. The following day, however, this same person forwarded me a .DOC from a third party.

Rich Text Format files are not good at handling embedded images, so many organisations insist on sending document files because their template includes their logo and RTF files are LARGER than documents as a result. This is astounding. (Not that the files are larger, but that organisations prefer their logo to files that their customers and members can open more safely.)
In May 2001, The Register told us that it isn't even entirely safe to open .RTF file any longer. The story is here, but in case that link expires, the text is here.

While it's true that all recent versions of MS Office supposedly require the user's permission to run a macro, a wee little oversight at Redmond Security Central makes it possible for an RTF (Rich Text Format) document opened by Word to execute a macro automatically if it's embedded in a template.

"When Word is used to open a document thatís based on a template, both the document and the template should be checked for macros. This vulnerability involves a case in which this isnít done correctly," an MS security bulletin explains, doing its damnedest not to say 'we goofed'.

Macros run on a machine or network at the user's level of permission, so of course a malicious one can perform quite a lot of mischief.

In this case, developing an exploit would be child's play. The required template could be fetched from a remote location, such as a Web site to which the feature-rich Word can connect automatically. This would be the preferred MO for someone trying to propagate via e-mail a macro virus exploiting the RTF vulnerability.

RTF is something of the lingua franca of word processing, readable by just about every application ever designed, so it's still in common use wherever people have to collaborate whilst using different software.

Affected programs include Word 97; Word 98 (J); Word 2000; Word 98 (Mac); and Word 2001 (Mac), but not Word 2002.

"Previous versions [of Word] are no longer supported and may or may not be affected by this vulnerability," MS says. It's reasonable to assume that they are affected, so there we have one more little motive to upgrade. ģ

Just in case you trust this site in case to want to update your copies of MS-Word, the files to do it are

To run the patch for Word 97, you are recommended to have Service Release 2 already installed. To get service Release 2, you have to download Service Release 1. SR-1 is 8680 KB, SR-2 is 23599 KB, this update is 3520 KB... just love downloading 37 megabytes, don't you? Like the same as both Star Wars video trailers but not quite so much fun?
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