Microsoft has announced that a service release for Office 97, due in July, will help customers migrate to the new suite by providing backward compatibility with older versions of the suite.

Office 97 Service Release 1 will fix the number one complaint about the product: the RTF converter in Word 97. According to Dennis Tevlin, a Microsoft desktop applications marketing director, Office 97's original rich text format (RTF) file converter was used rather than a binary converter for existing versions. The RTF version had some technical advantages, supposedly, but produced some unexpected side effects that made migration more difficult for customers. Soon, complaints came in from people asking for a true binary converter.

"Eighty percent of the people are happy, but we're not happy until 100% of the people are happy," Tevlin says