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Excel 2007 & Internet Explorer

Today we have a guest post from Andy Tischaefer.  Andy works on the Office Programmability team.  Andy is going to talk a bit about a change in behaviour using Office 2007 and how you can turn the clock back if you want to.

In prior versions of Office (since Office2000 at least), Office documents (ppt, xls, doc and others) navigated to in Internet Explorer would open with the application hosted inside of IE, like this:

Note – for the purposes of discussion in this blog, I am using Excel in my examples, but everything I am going to cover is true for all Office applications.

Many developers used this behavior to create a more seamless interaction between their web applications and the data produced by said application, for example by creating a spreadsheet on the fly and then telling IE to navigate to that spreadsheet.  However, this also caused confusion for users who wanted to actually work with documents from the web (internet or intranet) since the full Excel UI isn’t available and it’s hard to tell if you’re in IE or in Excel.  In Office 2007, we have changed the default behavior to not open inside IE, that is to say when navigating to the Office document, the appropriate Office application will open and load the document.  This should provide for a more consistent user experience but may lead to some behavior changes in your corporation’s applications.  Your choices are to change your application’s expected behavior to account for Office documents loading in the Office apps rather than IE, or to revert your users to the earlier hosted behavior.

You can revert this behavior in one of two ways.  One, you can change things through the Windows UI.  In WindowsXP, open an explorer window and open Tools / Folder Options.  Switch to the File Types tab and navigate to the document type you wish to open in IE.  In this case, I’ve picked .XLS:

From here, click Advanced, and then check the “Browse in Same Window†checkbox (highlighted in red in the picture below).

Checking this box will revert you to the behavior you saw in previous versions.  Note that you must do this for each document type you want to browse to in IE.

Another way to revert behavior is to change your “BrowserFlags†registry key for the appropriate file format to 0.  In the example below, I’m updating the key for .XLS:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREClassesExcel.Sheet.8]

“BrowserFlags”=dword:00000000

For those of you with applications that rely on the old hosting behavior, setting these keys during your application’s setup is probably the easiest way to ensure a smooth transition when upgrading to Office2007.