Microsoft has decided to kill off an important feature across its core Office editing applications. The company says it is sunsetting the document viewer on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. In its announcement, Microsoft says users can find alternatives, not least the Office Windows 10 apps.
Until this announcement, users could open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Viewer to read documents. They could do this even without the full version of Microsoft's Office suite. The company debuted the viewer apps when the company wanted to change the default document format, but some users were stuck on the older format.
Users could use the viewer app without needing the individual services on their machines. The apps supported the file formats handled in the full Office applications.
Microsoft has decided to pull support for these apps, but each will be ended separately. Word View will be the first to go, with its switch off date pencilled for this month. Excel is next and will be shuttered in April 2018, while PowerPoint will go the same month.
“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,” Microsoft says in a short note posted on the download pages of each app.
Microsoft points out that there is simply no need for the Viewer apps. The company's own Office applications will now complete the task of document viewing for free. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint made their debut on the Windows Store this year, while they are available on mobile platforms.
The Office applications are free to download and viewing documents is also free (editing requires a subscription).
While Microsoft is ending support for downloading the viewer apps, users already with them installed can still view documents. However, this will come with a risk as Microsoft will not roll out new security updates.