Word, Excel and PowerPoint Viewers are being retired

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 20, 2017
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Microsoft

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 office viewer

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.

Microsoft's suggestions:

  • 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:

Word, Excel and PowerPoint Viewers are being retired
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Word, Excel and PowerPoint Viewers are being retired
Microsoft will retire the company's Word Viewer, Excel Viewer, and PowerPoint Viewer applications for viewing and printing Office documents.
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  1. TK said on April 10, 2019 at 8:47 am

    @Jeff “Even openSUSE”? I think openSUSE is pretty good.

  2. Tanner Gibson said on March 2, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    so will all windows certifications be worthless or is it just going to be a worthless peace of paper

  3. Stefan said on November 21, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I did ditch Microsoft Office when version “XP” became unsupported (i hate RIBBONS). Moved to Libre Office. Sure, sometimes the layout was terrible, but it has become better and better.

  4. certification students said on November 20, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    what will happen to all the people that got certifications in word excel and PowerPoint what will happen to those. will the certifications be worthless or what i hope that i didn’t spend my time on these for nothing.

  5. Jeff said on November 20, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    So just to view Office documents but not create them, you need the full Office or some other app now. Nice. I am glad I ended my journey at Windows 8.1 and Office 2010. No more Microsoft for me. Linux Mint all the way. Even openSUSE Leap is better.

  6. Clairvaux said on November 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    One more ridiculous move. Why can’t they leave the blasted things in place, and maybe, if they are really such sissies afraid of lawsuits, put up a warning : this is unsupported, use at your own peril ? Are there really millions of people downloading those viewers and hogging up their bandwidth ? Can’t mighty Microsoft leave those programs available on some virtual backshelf, where they would be accessible to a dwindling number of users who really want them, with no harm done to anyone ?

    I’m willing to take up the challenge made by some commentators here, and call out against this new digital fascism (or communism, choose what suits you best).

    Of course, subscribing to Office 365 is not an alternative. This is horrendously expensive, and a viewer is needed only once in a while. Sending documents out on the cloud is not an alternative either. Microsoft, or Google, or both (I won’t bother to check right now) make it very clear that they can look into your files if they want to. And Libre Office is a huuuge program, which takes aaages to launch. A viewer is supposed to open instantly.

    “Disruption” is all very well, until it turns into wanton destruction, for the sheer pleasure of ruining what others have built before you. Can’t Microsoft people fix up Windows 10, before breaking up programs their elders have written, and which happened to work ?

  7. Luca said on November 20, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Since LibreOffice is performing better and better regarding compatibility on DOCX/XLSX/PPTX files, these viewers are going to be obsolete.

  8. Chris said on November 20, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Overall, it’s a loss for the community.

  9. leanon said on November 20, 2017 at 7:43 am

    but but but i”m to young to retire :(

  10. gx said on November 20, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Honestly, playback of these files should come as a default feature of their operating system.

  11. Ian said on November 20, 2017 at 7:04 am

    The Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Formats is unfortunately also being retired in April 2018.


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