back to article Microsoft Publisher books its retirement party for 2026

Microsoft is confirming plans to deprecate its Publisher application in 2026. This writer has fond memories of Microsoft Publisher, which started life in 1991 as a desktop publisher for Windows 3.0. While alternatives existed in the form of Ventura Publisher, Timeworks, and later QuarkXPress, Microsoft Publisher was a useful …

  1. Sir Sham Cad

    and users can expect the same experience as today

    So it's already EoL as they're not going to update it at all.

    1. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

      Re: and users can expect the same experience as today

      Why doesn't MS just keep it around forever without updating it? As long as it opens existing files and runs on the newest Windows version, that's good enough.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: and users can expect the same experience as today

        Microsft's decisions never seem rational. As previous post suggested "office politics" and it certainly has that feel about it when they do something that has no apparent reason.

      2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: and users can expect the same experience as today

        The problem there is if a vulnerability is discovered. If Microsoft are still supplying it, there will be an expectation they will update it, even if they put a notice on the download that says it is not being updated.

        Any while Windows security has improved massively since the early 2000s, there *is* still the possibility that an application, running with the current user rights, contains a vulnerable component that could enable something else on that machine to do serious damage.

        It's easier to just discontinue the product. Personally, I don't use it, but I do think if there is nothing proprietary in it, they should open source it. But I understand this also implies they will be offering a level of support they are unwilling to do.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: and users can expect the same experience as today

          What they appear to be doing is abandoning it when Office 2021 goes end of life, so if anyone is using Office 2021 they will stop getting security updates for the whole suite at the same time. They are then removing it fromm the subscription version at the same time.

          If they want people to be able to open the files after that, they could possibly add reader functionality to Edge, as they have done with PDFs.

          I would assume that the next 'one off purchase' version of Office won't include Publisher in any of the SKUs.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Windows

    "have a go at importing .pub files"

    So, Borkzilla, how's about open-sourcing the format of the .pub file ?

    Or would you be too embarrassed at what people would find ?

    Eh, who am I kidding ? Redmond will never open-source anything it doesn't absolutely have to.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "have a go at importing .pub files"

      Documenting and publishing the details of the file format is time-consuming and expensive and I'm not sure how useful it would really be for those few users of the software: they'd still need to develop parsers and converters. There are other alternatives migrating files to other software.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "have a go at importing .pub files"

      MS did release the MS Office format as open source 17 years ago and now forms ISO/IEC 29500 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_Open_XML

      The issue with older formats is documentation, as I'm guessing even MS would struggle to explain the format.

    3. Adair Silver badge

      Re: "have a go at importing .pub files"

      .pub = tears of rage. Not only could nothing else open/edit the file, but neither could your earlier version/s, when the boss sent it through saying "Hey, I've just drawn this up, but I need you to add the current details—it's due out in an hour?" I'll tell you what I think of MSPub: FOAD already!

      It wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the fact that it was the goto DTP software for endless numbers of office drones, plus your grandparents.

      1. samzeman

        Re: "have a go at importing .pub files"

        I still remember being taught how to use publisher in primary school alongside powerpoint and word. Unfortunately it was ubiquitous for a time there as "if you want to print something off and have it look nice, use publisher".

  3. IanTP

    Serif PagePlus...

    Anyone remember that, I started off with version 3 I believe, but had a go with Microsoft Publisher and fell in love, still use it occasionally today in Office 2010.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serif PagePlus...

      Started at v2 and regularly updated until I switched to Mac about 10 years ago. Serif had a whole suite of graphics apps. My biggest problem with Serif was their marketing - as a customer I regularly got email and phone calls selling new products (despite asking to be taken off their lists). Notwithstanding, I tried most but never found the others approached the quality of PP.

      Tried their newer Affinity apps on the Mac - good but they upgraded and expected users to buy again (with very small discount for "upgrading"). Good software but not impressed with their sales and marketing, so looked around and found good alternatives where loyalty is appreciated. Don't need a DTP nowadays (fortunately) - MS Publisher (via a Win11 VM) has been my latter goto when absolutely needed. I have access to the full Adobe suite if needed, but I keep that on a VM as I don't like the way their newer offerings dig into macOS - and try not to use.

      1. mantavani

        Re: Serif PagePlus...

        Although Serif lost their way for a while I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with Affinity, and their reluctance to adopt the SaaS model is to me an absolute breath of fresh air. The discount offered to v1 users for the full v2 suite cross-platform license was IIRC 40%, which isn’t bad, and there are pretty regular 25% discount offers, but I’ve yet to upgrade from v1 as it still works fine for my needs.

        1. hedgie Bronze badge

          Re: Serif PagePlus...

          TBH, having come from Adobe, I'd pay full price if I had to just to 1) not have a bloody subscription and 2) far cheaper than Photoshop ever was. I'd like a bigger discount, but that's not a deal-breaker for me.

        2. Fursty Ferret

          Re: Serif PagePlus...

          I, on the other hand, am not so impressed with the Affinity model. You can keep using the older versions that you paid for, but once about half the people you work with have upgraded you've got no choice but to follow suit as the older versions won't so much as look at anything produced by the newer one.

          On top of that I paid for the full package about 2 weeks before v3 was released, and Affinity's response to me asking for an upgrade (or even a discount code) was a big fat middle finger and ****-you via email. So now I pay for Adobe CC mainly out of spite.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Serif PagePlus...

            I must admit that jumping off the Adobe ship hurt most by losing Lightroom. Photoshop did everything I could ever need to do, but Lightroom did it quicker. Affinity was a good Photoshop replacement but, despite many requests (from me and many others) Adobe weren't able to come up with anything to touch Lightroom's ability to manage file catalogues. A fair bit of file reorganisation was needed, but I've now got a handle on that. After ditching Affinity v1, not feeling generous enough to pay Serif yet again, I tried Pixelmator Pro and found it does all I need for one-off edits. That led me to Photomator and that has just released something that starts to approach Lightroom. Still a way to go but, with a diminishing need to catalogue new photos, and fewer needing to be taken in raw, it looks as though I've got a decent workflow back. A lot different that 10 years ago, but it fits what I need. OK, I've had to buy a couple of new apps, but Pixelmator seems to manage without forcing a subscription (they're an option, but so is paying outright) and bring on significant upgrades. Time will tell whether they become another Serif...

        3. Snapper

          Re: Serif PagePlus...

          And Affinity are just one (small) payment until a big version comes out when they give excellent upgrade rates, unlike Adobe who charge you for the full Adobe range (except for the Photography kit) irrespective of what apps you use and how many. Experience has told me the hard way that you can't trust anything outside the 5 core Adobe apps to still be there in a few years.

          1. hedgie Bronze badge

            Re: Serif PagePlus...

            Yeah. I only had Photo and Designer, but the cost of the full suite (and unlike when I bought, not requiring a different license for each platform) is low enough that I'll probably just get them all. I've been getting plenty of OT lately so the cost is perfectly reasonable.

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Serif PagePlus...

        Mac - good but they upgraded and expected users to buy again (with very small discount for "upgrading"

        You know there was almost 10 years of free incremental upgrades between the two versions right?

        1. Ian 55

          Re: Serif PagePlus...

          On Windows, I think it was six years from the paid for release of 1.x to the paid for update of 2.x, but quite!

          That was much better than the gap between paid for updates of the PagePlus line.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Serif PagePlus...

      Serif PagePlus...

      Anyone remember that, I started off with version 3 I believe

      Yeah, I think we had a cut down version of V2 on Windows 3.11.

      I used it for many years and I've held on to the X2 CDRom in case I ever want/need to open the files again (assuming I could get it to install on "modern" Windows.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Serif PagePlus...

      I was using PagePlus for my assignments in the early 1990s. At the time it was really the only option on a simple Windows machine. It wasn't perfect, but for many projects, including my dissertation, it was good enough. I revisited it a few times via a Windows VM and found it still usable and many of the older quirks had indeed been resolved. If I had the need for something similar again, I'd have no problem buying a new version, whether for Windows or Mac. Given the ability of the market behemoths to dominate and squash competition, it's really quite amazing it's still out there.

      For Photoshop-like work I use Photoline.

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    > the future is uncertain for those wondering what to do with all those .pub files.

    Darn, what else will I use to accidentally open up my public SSH key on Windows?

  5. Happy Lemming

    Time to throw it in the bin, along with Windows 10 and those old 7 licenses. A pity. I once used it a lot, for brochures and how-to guides, but now it's just for making calendars.

  6. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

    Scribus

    May I recommend a replacement:

    http://www.scribus.us/

    1. ldo

      Re: Scribus

      Sigh ... another site that doesn’t appreciate that you need separate TLS certs for scribus.net and www.scribus.net.

      But yes, that seems a decent tool, with a decent Python API.

      Also handy would be Inkscape, for your drawing/design needs.

      1. Mike Pellatt

        Re: Scribus

        looks like they realised they needed other DNS entries in the SAN (as there's a whole slew of 'em there) but forgot the bare domain name.

  7. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    Only rarely did I have a chance to use Microsoft Publisher. While an editor for the high school newspaper [1], I learned Adobe PageMaker. After that, I volunteered in college with the student government, whose Communications dept. used Quark Xpress [2].

    [1] Rest in peace. My tenure (graduated 1998) was near the end of its life as an actual newspaper printed on an offset press from tabloid-size rolls by the local (county) newspaper in our town. It was replaced by a photocopied newsletter with horrible design -- no polish whatsoever. By now it's all digital media with zero semblance of real journalism.

    [2] I was their first e-mail newsletter wrangler, using Eudora and a manually curated list -- no automation; the university website login didn't work and social media wasn't yet a thing. I wouldn't have minded learning Quark, but I never got a chance -- the single station (Power Mac) was always occupied.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge
    Windows

    Who?

    I haven't used Publisher in decades. The other day, I had to actually look up what that P icon was in Office. Oh, Publisher. Yeah, I remember that. I used it from day one and it sucked. So did the next version.

    I'd been using DTP since day one, starting with Ventura and Aldus Pagemaker. I also used to write Magna code (long lost to history at this point) by hand in the early days of digital typesetting. Funny how it was so close to HTML that making the transition to HTML 3 only took me a few weeks.

    In that era, Pagemaker was the one to use. Then came Quark. What a flying piece of shit that was. So needlessly complicated. Of course it became the darling of the DTP world precisely FOR its complexity. In other words, it was best at creating the gatekeeping priesthood and nothing more.

    Publisher's biggest problem was not being able to handle all the competing typesetting, printing and color formats of that time. I do NOT miss the format wars.

    Then Word muscled into the do-all DTP world and became what most people used. Not professionals, but most people. (which reminds me of that time Word tried be a website maker as well.)

    So yeah, goodbye Publisher. I won't miss you.

    1. ldo

      Re: how it was so close to HTML

      Perhaps it was an offshoot of SGML (as HTML was), if not SGML itself.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Badly managed for years

    In the various versions of Office over the last decade or so Microsoft in its wisdom </sarc> put Publisher in the Pro /Business editions of Office, where many are likely to have a need for something more sophisticated, but for no apparent reason it was not in the Home/student versions, where it would be useful for making invitations and "Thank You" notes, homework projects etc., or posters for small local/ communal events ( Church jumble sales and the like).

    Or to put it another way, they restricted a programme perfect for amateur or occasional business use ( a small restaurant's menu, say) to commercial enterprises.

    And it's totally incomprehensible why they would do this.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Badly managed for years

      And it's totally incomprehensible why they would do this.

      Office politics. Not the only example from MS. MS is so big that individual products have internal champions, and rise or fall with the success or failure of their sponsors.

    2. Fred Daggy Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Badly managed for years

      I used to get x amount of tickets of "what is the P icon" that I eventually ensured I only ever installed customised Office - without Publisher. (with approval). There were about 2 or 3 people out of 1000 that actually needed it (and got it). Communications wouldn't touch it with a barge pole and no one else needed it (exceptions noted). Lots of bored, and inquisitive Excel and PPT pushers.

      The exceptions tended to be the Office Admins - for the "Please clean your coffee cups" type notices.

      But whoever suggested that the Pub format be now released, that should be enshrined in law. As soon as a product becomes abandonware - file formats and database schemas must be released to the public domain. Or at the very least be released with a licence that permits reading of the file format. (This is the reason TAR is going to be used until the heat death of the universe).

      1. samzeman

        Re: Badly managed for years

        Make this law and Nintendo, amongst others, would need to create a new division for the rest of time to publish their game ISOs. And it would make their recent C&D letters seem quite foolish.

        In other words I'm all for it.

  10. ldo

    Weren’t DTP Apps Supposed To Merge With Word-Processing Apps?

    I remember a prediction from the early days of desktop publishing (i.e. 1980s) that, at some point, the respective functionalities of page-layout apps and word-processing apps would grow and overlap until there was no real distinction between them.

    Seems that never quite happened. Wonder why?

  11. Yorick Hunt Silver badge
    Unhappy

    They've been trying to kill it for years.

    The initial couple of versions were painful but showed promise. By the time Office 2000 came out, Publisher had become a potent tool for tiny productions (brochures, handouts, menus, birthday cards, etc.), ideal for the average SOHO & SMB user.

    Since Office 2003 though, and especially since Office 2010, they've been pushing it into obscurity, with each new version making it more difficult to do what Publisher was most-suited to. It's as if they handed the product over to developers who had never used a DTP application.

    Ah, gimme a GEM desktop running Aldus PageMaker (yes, before Adobe acquired them) and I'll be happy;-)

  12. Edster

    Superceded years ago

    "...And we all know how good Word is with drawings and images."

    Surely everyone is using Excel for this?

    1. samzeman

      Re: Superceded years ago

      Most folks I know are using powerpoint, especially for anything printable.

  13. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    I feel a great disturbance in the force...

    ...as if a million parish newsletter editors cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: I feel a great disturbance in the force...

      Exactly.

      Publisher was and currently still is the ideal tool for that sort of thing. Where would we have been without Publsher for the (grown up now) kids' birthday invitations, thank you notes to aunties and the likes.

      And yes, as noted, those "Please wash up your own coffee mugs" illustrated posters, temporary warning notices, menu cards, local event posters and a squillion other one-off small ink-jet publications

      It is the perfect SOHO product.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Binraider Silver badge

    Is there a good DTP package anymore? One not nobbled by subscription nonsense?

    Both Adobe and Quark have decent software hidden behind vicious licensing so they don't count.

    1. druck Silver badge
      Coat

      Impression Publisher or Ovation Pro.

  16. CAPS LOCK

    I used Publisher for years until...

    ... I moved to Linux. Publisher wouldn't run under the then current version of Wine. I had to recreate a few things, mainly using LibreOffice Draw. I found, back then, that Zamzar could convert .pub files so I used that to extract the text.

  17. hammarbtyp

    I have a particular hate of Publisher from when my kids local schools would always publish the newsletter in publisher format.

    Publisher, unlike word did not have a viewer, meaning unless you had publisher installed on your PC, you could not access it

    Every parent evening I would suggest to the teacher responsible to generate a PDF, but they always failed to do this (the teacher was the IT teacher. He was originally the chemistry teacher, and I think he was promoted to the area where he could do least damage, since It in those days consisted of powerpoint generation, but I was not convinced he could even do that)

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Understandable, but it's not Publisher's fault. If it was a small primary school you'd maybe be we'd able to understand this behaviour, however, if he was a subject teacher it's secondary and they have the resources. But you can't cure stupid.

      To blame Publisher for idiots misusing it is like blaming a fish knife if a restaurant gives you one to eat steak.

  18. Blitheringeejit
    Happy

    Anyone care to join me...

    ...for a merry day's grave-dancing? I have three decades of loathing to gyrate out of my system...

    (Icon is for the demise, not for the subject!)

  19. navarac Silver badge

    Best I ....

    .... print to PDF the 5 files I still have (for posterity). Proof that ANYTHING digital is not as long lasting as print/books; if you needed the proof, that is..

    1. Fred Daggy Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Best I ....

      Open Source good ... great. Open Standards .... better.

  20. robinsonb5

    I used to run a printing company, and 15 - 20 years ago Publisher files were the absolute bane of our lives. By the mid 2010s Publisher had relinquished its role as the Bane of a Printer's Life, replaced by PowerPoint. Oh, the joy of full-bleed-but-bleedless PDFs which aren't even the same shape as the piece of paper they're supposed to be printed on!

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      That's the (incomprehensible) Thing. It was the right tool in the wrong place.

      I can remember in those days the problems it caused people I knew who got sent DTP jobs made/drafted in Publisher. It should never ever, not in a million years have been marketed for that kind of use. Most of the internal stuff, templates and the like were aimed towards the SOHO user anyway. It was the perfect SOHO product if you wanted a handful of copies of a single page newsletter, or a party invitation it was really useful

      Pro product, never.

  21. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Pint

    "However, all good things – and Publisher – must come to an end."

    Beautifully subtle. Just perfect. A virtual one of these for you ->

  22. Grogan Silver badge

    Well, they just guaranteed we'll never purchase another Microsoft Office again. I've got 3 owned licenses here (had to jump through hoops to get them and turn off that Microsoft sign-in shit) worth about $1100 because of Publisher. We have a lot of .pub files, but they aren't that important anymore.

    That's the only reason they aren't using LibreOffice. I use Linux only, but we also run an investment LLC (my aging parents are trying to teach me, but I'm a wanker, not a banker)

    Good show, Microsoft. Next time I'll be able to say "Publisher is discontinued anyway, so we might as well use this FREE office suite". They are already familiar with it from using it by accident instead of Microsoft Word lol

  23. James O'Shea

    Okay

    I never used Publisher for anything important. I built quick-and-dirty stuff in Word or in Apple Pages. Serious stuff was in Quark Xcess, or Pagemaker, or InDesign. God, I hated Xcess. There was a major printing bug in all versions from 2.x to 4.x; I could cause the thing to crash, instantly, every time, on different Macs, running different versions of the OS, and, from v3.1, on Windows, The idiots replicated the damn bug on Windows when they ported the software. The crash happened with different printers, too, ranging from Epson inkjets to HP grayscale lasers to a hulking huge Tektronix crayonjet. I sent in numerous bug reports, describing exactly how to generate the crash, with screen shots and all. They didn't give a shit. And then Xcess 5 finally fixed the bug, but didn't support OS X. Say bye... One review of Pagemaker said that it had more bombs than a fully loaded B-52. They were correct. InDesign was Adobe.. but it bloody worked. I used it for years.

    So i checked the copy which came with MS Office on this machine... apparently you can export to PDF and MS Word. Hmm. I suspect that there will be problems with some features. I suspect that users had best get started on moving everything to some other product; Pages if they use Macs, Pages can do virtually everything that Publisher can do, and will export to Word and PDF without significant problems. (Well, significant to me. YMMV) On Windows, bite the bullet and use Word. Word is not the best at this kind of thing, but it's not as if you have a choice, other than starting over from scratch with some other product. Perhaps export to Word or PDF and have some other product import the file, and then modify things until you have what you need. In any case, it's going to be a lot of work, especially if you have a lot of files.

    Perhaps MS might consider creating a tool to convert Publisher files to something usable with minimum data loss? Nah. They're MS. Never happen.

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