If you ever purchased a PC with Windows® operating system installed, then it probably came with Microsoft® Works installed for free. Microsoft® Works is a productivity software suite developed by Microsoft®. It comes with a built-in word processor, spreadsheet application, and a database utility. This can allow users with very limited budget to get the functionality of Microsoft® Office™ without having to buy the actual suite.
However, nowadays most users purchase MS-Office™ anyway, so most of them uninstall Microsoft® Works from their PCs. That is fine, as long as they do not create database files in Microsoft® Works. The database files created in MS-Works cannot be opened by MS-Office™ applications. Neither MS-Excel nor Ms-Access will be able to open these files. This is because the MS-Works database use file extension .wdb, which is not supported by any of the MS-Office utilities.
The only way to access MS-Works files using MS-Office utilities is to convert the files to a format compatible with MS-Office™. This trick comes in handy when the user has created some database file using MS-Works, which contains some sensitive information. The trick can also be helpful if you do not have MS-Works installed in your PC, and someone sends you a .wdb file.
The only way to open the .wdb file is to convert it to some Office-compatible format. A third party software utility called Works Database Converter can convert .wdb files (created using MS-Works 3 and 4) to a spreadsheet that can be opened using any version of Microsoft® Excel.
Works Database Converter can create one table of data for each file that it is given to process. The compatibility of the recovered file, however, depends on the numeric fields. If the data types used in the fields is not supported by MS-Office™ software suite, the data might still be unreadable. The Works Database Converter is actually a Java applet that can be run using the Java Webstart utility.
If you are still having difficulty in deciphering the content of the converted files, your last resort would be to call up the person who sent you the file. Then, you will have to ask him to export the file using Ms-Works in Comma-Separated-Value (CSV) sheet. These sheets can be directly imported using MS-Excel (file extension xls) or MS-Access. There are some other transferable formats as well.