My mind is so blown by what happens when you rename a .xlsx file to .zip and open it that I don't care if you go entirely off topic about it. I did kind of wonder why an empty Excel file was 9 kb,
I've played with connection strings to no avail. The only thing that looked promising was changing the Excel version to 14.0, which yielded an error about not being able to find installable ISAM. My experience with that error leads me to believe that it isn't progress.