Viewing an Excel file should not be so hard

I needed to open a .xls Excel file on my PC and OpenOffice wouldn’t open it so I tried the Microsoft Office Excel Viewer program but it said no:

I thought perhaps the viewer was out of date so I found the “Check for updates” link which opened up a tab in my Chrome browser helpfully suggesting I should be running Internet Explorer 5 or later.

It had been a long time since I installed the Excel Viewer so I went through the checking for updates process, did some installations, but still the file wouldn’t play ball.

I switched over to Internet Explorer, set myself up with a Windows Live account and decided I’d try and open it with Microsoft Office Live, but Internet Explorer suggested that it wasn’t safe:

I ignored the advice but even then the file refused to open:

Having wasted a lot of time and failed miserably, I waited until I had access to another PC with Microsoft Office installed on it and Excel opened my troublesome file happily.

The three most frustrating things about this experience:

  • all that effort that got me nowhere
  • lack of appropriate guidance from the applications
  • the behavioural difference between an installed copy of Office and Office Live

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