Saturday, March 3, 2012

MDI - Microsoft Document Imaging Format

If you have used the Microsoft Document Imaging Format (MDI), like me, when it was introduced in Office 2003, then you must have been looking around for solutions to enable you to open the .mdi files today.

I have more than few documents on my hard drive that I produced in MDI format, which was promoted to be the new PDF format from Microsoft. It was portable, and it was in that time when you needed third party software to produce PDF's from Microsoft Office documents, which gave it all the importance. The ability to produce PDF-like documents with ease and directly from within the Microsoft Office was neat.

But .. Just as everything that is Microsoft, they take decisions for you, and put them to execution, leaving you struggling behind, trying to solve issues you have no hand in, except for adopting the Microsoft way, off-course. 

I'm not going to be talking about opening .mdi files in other operating systems than Microsoft's, neither about opening them without an installation of Microsoft Office, on the contrary, I will assume a loyal Microsoft customer, who upgrades his Office suite regularly, and now has Microsoft Office 2010 installed on his W7-machine.

According to Microsoft's support website, mdi format is now obsolete. This does not only mean you can't produce mdi files anymore, but also you can't open them! Although, the format was originally Microsoft's way for PDF-like documents, Microsoft doesn't provide a stand-alone reader for the format, nor a converter to other formats. Those of us who have .mdi documents laying around, have to follow one of two solutions, according to this post by Microsoft. Either download and install a free version of the SharedPoint Designer 2007, which is a 300MB download, for it has an mdi viewer, or use the Office 2007 installation medium (I don't remember where mine is now, but probably wrecked and thrown away) to install the optional Microsoft Office Document Imaging component.

This is B.S., if you ask me. Any decent programmer working in a garage, let alone a huge company such as Microsoft, knows well that in such situation, the least one can do is to provide a stand-alone reader/conversion tool to your obsolete formats.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this product, MDI2PDF, which is supposed to be able to convert MDI files to the more solid and usable PDF format. In its free edition, the only thing I could do, besides viewing the mdi files and answering annoying messages, is to convert the first page of each mdi to a bmp or jpeg file. If your mdi's are more-than-one-page, then you have to go with the Microsoft Solution.

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