Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations Blog

I can’t believe Microsoft is making me buy an Office license for a PC I’m using one time just so I can open a Word or Excel document I just need to read once!

What the h3ll is Microsoft thinking?!?!  You mean that if I need to open a Word document or an Excel file that someone sent me while I’m on a PC other than my own that I need to buy an Office license for that PC just to read those files?  C’mon Microsoft!

Anybody out there had that impression before?  If so, there is a distinction I want to call out and also make sure you are aware of some resources to help.  If you are opening a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation, or even a Visio diagram to view, you can do so without a license for those programs.  Now, before you run off and start installing Office on all of your PCs without licenses and saying, “Eric said I can,” keep reading, because that is NOT what I am saying.

Microsoft provides a collection of tools called Microsoft viewers that can help in this type of situation.  Viewers provide a means for people who don’t have Office programs to see your work. You can provide them with the appropriate viewer along with your Office files and you can download the viewers for free directly from the Microsoft website to view a Microsoft Office file if you do not own the Microsoft Office program.  This means that you can read those Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets, a PowerPoint presentations, or even Visio diagrams using the viewers, all without a license for those programs.  When you would need a license for the Office applications is if you wanted to modify the files or use the actual programs themselves instead of the viewers to open them.  The viewers allow you to read them; however, you do need the programs themselves if you are going to modify them.  This is when you would need a license for the various Office applications you are using.

You can view the list of Microsoft viewers and download them online HERE.

If you do need to modify the Office documents and do need to purchase Microsoft Office licenses, here are a few former posts that may be helpful:

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights

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