Jean, on my system (Vista Home Basic and Word97), when I print to file, I give the file a name (replacing the *) and the file opens automatically and I check that everything is properly formatted and save it as a Word .DOC file. I can then re-open it with no problems. That seems to be what used to happen to you.
Does the file not open after giving it a name? I am guessing not, otherwise you would save the file in Word format.
There are various free PDF writers that are excellent to use. I have PrimoPDF on one of my computers and CutePDF on the other computer. Both are excellent, although PrimoPDF is easier to install.
Once you have a PDF writer you will find it a handy for lots of things. Everyone can read PDF. The same can not be said for many of the other document formats we use.