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You receive an error when trying to open a .docx file in Word 2003 or with the Word Viewer

Support for Office 2003 has ended

Microsoft ended support for Office 2003 on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.


When trying to open a .DOCX file in Word 2003 with the Compatibility Pack or in the Word Viewer with the Compatibility Pack, you receive the following error message:

“there was an error opening the file.”

This issue may be caused by the OLE32.dll file not being registered correctly.

To Try to resolve this issue, follow the steps below:

  1. Close any applications that are running.
  2. Open an elevated command prompt. To do this, click Start , click All Programs , click Accessories , right-click Command Prompt , and then click Run as administrator . If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow .
  3. Type the following:
    regsvr32 %SystemRoot%\system32\ole32.dll and then click OK.
  4. When you receive the message  "DllRegisterServer in ole32.dll succeeded.", click OK:
Note This is a "FAST PUBLISH" article created directly from within the Microsoft support organization. The information contained herein is provided as-is in response to emerging issues. As a result of the speed in making it available, the materials may include typographical errors and may be revised at any time without notice. See Terms of Use for other considerations.

Article ID: 2001377 - Last Review: 08/26/2010 22:05:00 - Revision: 2.0

  • Microsoft Office Word 2003
  • Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003
  • KB2001377