Office 2010 file viewers

Office 2010 has now been released, so inevitably some early adopters (like me) will be deploying this in their businesses. If they are your suppliers, customers, partners or just other folks you know, they might want to share their files with you. So how can you read these documents if you don’t have this latest greatest version yet? There are various free options available to you to view them, depending on which version (if any) of Office you have.

If you have Office 2007

Essentially, if you have Office 2007 installed you will be able to view files created in the newer version since the files for Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the based on the same compressed XML formats. However, if the author of the document has used some of the newer features of Office 2010 you may get mixed results, varying from being able to view but not edit some of the content to missing out on even seeing other parts altogether.

If you have Office 2000, XP or 2003

In order to open files in Office 2007 or 2010 formats you need to get a free add-in known as the Office Compatibility pack. You simply install this on top of your copy of Office and you can start to open files created in Office 2010. If you have the previous version of the compatibility pack you need to get the updated version 4 if you want to be able to read files which contain content created using the newest features. In all cases you will only be able to view the newest content, not necessarily edit all of it, but it is certainly a good start.

If you don’t have MS Office at all

Maybe for whatever reason you don’t have Microsoft Office, or only have Office 97 or older (so can’t use the compatibility pack option). In that case your options are more limited at the moment. To view PowerPoint .pptx files you can download the PowerPoint 2010 viewer,  but for Word and Excel there is not yet a viewer for 2010 files (I’ll post an update when they get released). You can still use the versions for Word 2007 and Excel 2007 (and for the latter you should also download the Excel 2007 viewer Service Pack 2)

What about Visio?

Microsoft Visio is a great program for drawing diagrams of all kinds – office layouts, network topology, wiring schematics, flowcharts, business processes and so on. It is really useful for a range of different departments, but its value is limited if you can’t share the files you have created without having to keep converting everything to PDF or some other common format.

If you have Office 2010 installed with the default settings, you will already have the Visio Viewer, which is good news. This means you can open Visio files or even preview them in the reading pane in Outlook. If you don’t have Office 2010 you can download the free Visio 2010 viewer to achieve the same results. When you open Visio files they will open in Internet Explorer, with a toolbar which gives you access to zoom controls, layers and shape properties (you need to double click a shape once the properties window is open, rather than single click as you would in Visio itself). As well as viewing files you can of course print them out too.

Are you using these file viewers or the compatibility pack? Or are you one of the early adopters using Office 2010 already?

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