Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between DOC and DOCX


DOC and DOCX are file formats that are used in Microsoft’s Word application; a part of the Microsoft Office productivity suite. The main difference between DOC and DOCX is their current status. The DOC format has been used my Microsoft until the 2003 version of Word. In Word 2007, they introduced the DOCX as the new default format. Users can still revert to using the DOC format if they want to.

The single biggest problem with the DOCX format is compatibility as Word 2003 and older version are unable to open DOCX files. This is a major problem when sharing files as not all people update their software with every new version. To solve the problem, Microsoft released a compatibility pack that allows older versions of Office to open the DOCX and other related formats.

In DOC, the document is stored in a binary file that also contains the related formatting and other relevant information. On the other hand, a DOCX file is basically a zip file that contains all the XML files pertaining to the document. If you replace the DOCX extension with ZIP, you can easily open it with any zip compression software and see or alter the XML documents.

The DOC format has been used by Microsoft for quite some time. But its proprietary nature meant that other software makers were not able to use the format for their own applications. Even other word processing applications have difficulties in accurately reading DOC files. Microsoft’s main goal with DOCX is to create an open standard that other companies may also adopt; hence the use of XML as the basis. Implementing functions to read and write DOCX files are easy to do since the XML vocabularies used are readily available. There is no guess work involved in coding.

Because of the introduction DOCX and the other XML based formats, it is probably safe to assume that the DOC format would slowly be phased out in favor of the new formats. With Word 2007 and 2010, newer features have been added. These features can be saved in a DOCX document while some of these features may not be retained in a DOC file.


1.DOC is the default extension of Word 2003 and older while DOCX is the default extension of Word 2007 and newer
2.Word 2003 and older cannot open DOCX files without the compatibility pack
3.DOCX is XML based while DOC is in a binary format
4.DOC is proprietary while DOCX is an open standard
5.DOCX can work with newer features while DOC cannot

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  3. This is the information that Microsoft Word lover need to know. Thank you for the post.

  4. Good job but
    What is xml based and binary format

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