Word, Excel and PowerPoint Viewers are being retired
Microsoft maintains a list of viewer applications for some of its Microsoft Office applications that Windows users may run to read documents without having Office or a compatible third-party Office solution installed on a Windows machine.
The viewer applications were released at a time when Microsoft switched the default format of its Office applications, so that users without the most recent version of Office could view those.
Today, there is an abundance of options to read Office documents, many of which are available online and require no installation of software whatsoever.
Microsoft retired the Word Viewer application already in November 2017. It notes on the Word Viewer download page that downloads will no longer be available, and that Word Viewer won't receive security updates either anymore (downloads are still available as of November 20, 2017, but this is probably going to change in the coming days).
The Microsoft Word Viewer is being retired in November, 2017. At that time, the Viewer will no longer be available for download and will no longer receive security updates. See Details for more information.
The company added a note to the download pages of PowerPoint Viewer and Excel Viewer as well. The PowerPoint note informs users that the application will be retired in April 2018, the Excel note that it will be retired in November 2018.
It appears that the date difference is caused by a hasty copy and paste job, as the details on the Excel download page state that Excel Viewer will also be retired in April 2018.
Both viewer applications will be available for download until April 2018. Microsoft will remove downloads at that time, and stop releasing security updates for these applications.
The company added a list of suggested alternatives to the download pages to provide users of the software programs with options to continue viewing and printing Office documents.
- On Windows 10: download of Word, Excel and PowerPoint mobile apps.
- On iOS and Android: download of the free viewer apps from Apple's iTunes Store or Google Play.
- Subscription to Office 365.
- OneDrive: Upload the documents to OneDrive, and view the document online afterwards using the service.
There are plenty of third-party solutions available that users can select instead. Microsoft did not mention that users can purchase a copy of Office as well, likely because it wants to push Office 365 subscriptions.
Third-party options to view Office documents: