Similarly, if you own the Microsoft Office suite, do you share documents with those who don’t?
Most office software power-users will be frustrated using a tool with limited functionality day-to-day, but your situation may merit using one of these free, web-based viewers anyway. While you cannot edit documents, these free, online interfaces allow you to view, copy, or print Office documents authored by others--without having to commit to the Office suite yourself.
Alternatives to Free Viewers: Free Office Software Suites and Apps
Before downloading a viewer, also consider the free Microsoft Office Online (Web Apps), which both allow you to both read and perform a limited but effective range of editing. You will find Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote apps available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android.
If someone sends you file permissions to a document housed on Microsoft’s cloud OneDrive you can make edits using this web app.
Since both the viewers and the web apps are used in your browser, and therefore require an internet connection, the latter may make more sense to you as a solution.
Also, check out this list of other Free or Open Source Office Software Suites and Apps.
Microsoft Word Viewer
Microsoft produced free viewers for its Word application up until 2003. Since then, Microsoft Office 2007, 2010, and 2013 have come to fruition; however, the viewer was not updated for each of these versions. Those interested in a free, online viewer for Word have just used the Microsoft Word 2003 Viewer, which worked fairly well for documents produced across all these versions.
Luckily, now you can find a recent update that replaces the Microsoft Office 2003 Viewer. This download is a replacement for Word Viewer 2003 and all previous Word Viewer versions.
Microsoft Excel Viewer
Excel workbooks are among the most popular in the world, so it makes sense to have a solution that reads them as well as possible, even if you do not use Microsoft Excel on your device.
As with the Word Viewers, Excel Viewers have a new version that replaces the Excel Viewer 97, as well as Excel Viewers created earlier.
Download the Microsoft Excel Viewer – Free!
Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer
PowerPoint Viewer has likewise been around for some time with a long-standing version, PowerPoint Viewer 97, being used for subsequent versions.
The most recent version of the PowerPoint Viewer has a few improvements and caveats. You can now opening password-protected Microsoft PowerPoint presentations (assuming you are privy to the password, of course). You will also notice a few features not available with this PowerPoint Viewer, including running macros while viewing a file or opening linked, embedded objects or files.
Microsoft Access Viewer
Microsoft Access is a relational database program that is included in some versions of Office.
Learn more about this application: Sample Microsoft Access Databases
For those interested in seeing, copying, and printing Microsoft Access databases even if you do not own the program yourself, you will find two older but effective free viewers:
Microsoft Visio Viewer
Even some Office power users have never heard of Microsoft Visio. This is a diagramming program for creating flow charts, organizational charts, or other visual representations.
While you cannot create or edit in-depth, you can do the following within the viewer: view files with extensions such as .vsd, .vsdx, .vsdm, .vst, .vstx, .vstm, .vdx, .vdw, or .vtx, use keyboard shortcuts and shortcut menus, view shape properties, adjust some layers settings, print some elements which fit to a given screen, and use some comment functions.
Since Visio is not typically included in some of Microsoft’s pre-packaged versions, it makes sense for businesses, for example, to buy one copy for the main user or a single computer device. This way, the Visio 2013 Viewer can be installed for free for others on the team to collaborate on.
Download the Visio 2013 Viewer
Microsoft Lync Server 2013 Whiteboard Viewer
This web conferencing tool offers a great way to share a record of online brainstorming and other presentations, even if those you were working with have not purchased access to Lync Server 2013.
Learn more about this application: Microsoft Lync Online: Options for Meetings Anytime, Anywhere
It converts the contents of your whiteboard session to HTML5, which is then viewed in a compatible browser.
You May Also Need This Compatibility Pack
Keep in mind that the viewers may not resolve some of the more intricate compatibility glitches you could run into. For that reason, Microsoft also offers its Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Formats.
Since each new program version tends to allow new file types, you may need this compatibility pack to properly upload the file you are interested in.
Always Read License Terms
As with all downloads, make sure to read license terms regarding fonts and other aspects of files you may be interested in copying or printing. Even though you have not purchased a full version of Microsoft Office, you are still agreeing to license terms for these viewers by using them. In fact, you cannot install or use the fonts on other devices at all, because you have not purchased the right to do so.
Downloading these free viewers as well as the compatibility pack may sound a bit complex, but it should end up being really simple. Once you click and download each you are interested in, jump in and see what you think. Please let me know if you run into any questions.