Using a Mac to open Word and Excel files created on a Windows PC is easy. Just copy the files to removable media like a USB flash drive or CD, then install Office 2004 on the Mac and open the .doc or .xls files as you normally would in Windows.
Some software vendors do not make it easy to convert Windows data for use on Mac OS X or vice versa. Take Intuit’s cross-platform accounting program, QuickBooks. I recently consulted a home user who switched from Windows XP to Mac OS X 10.4. She and her bookkeeper had been recording financial transactions using QuickBooks 2003 for Windows. Her new Mac was equipped with QuickBooks Pro 2007. The .qbb export file that I created in Windows could not be imported on her Mac because of incompatibilities with the file format. The failed attempt revealed that she needed to export her Windows data using QuickBooks 2004 or later. I tried without success to locate the QuickBooks 2004 installer on Intuit’s website. Intuit’s order page provided links to current versions (2007 and 2008), only.
As I mulled over my options, I called another client of mine who is a QuickBooks consultant and bookkeeper. She provided expert advice regarding the cross-platform conversion. She said she would loan me her QuickBooks 2005 and 2006 installers so I would have the proper tools needed to complete the data conversion. Here are the steps that she outlined:
1). On the Windows PC, first install QBWin2005, then download and install the software patches to bring QBWin2005 to Service Pack 5 level. Once the patches are installed, convert the original QBWin2003 file to QBWin2005.
2). The programming code and database used to create QuickBooks for Windows changed with the release of QBWin2006. QBMac2007’s file structure is much more similar to QBWin2006 than it is to earlier Windows releases. Install QBWin2006 on the Windows PC, then convert the QBWin2005 data to QBWin2006.
3). Finally, export the QBWin2006 data as a .qbb file that can then be imported into QBMac2007.