Microsoft Publisher books its retirement party for 2026

Venerable desktop publisher not going to get a Copilot any time soon

Updated 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 tool to write newsletters.

Unlike Word, Publisher was focused on layout and page design. Though it lacked many of the features of its competitors, it was responsible for some genuinely horrendous designs, and was popular due to its cheap price.

Despite not finding much favor with professionals, Microsoft Publisher continued to be updated over the years. Microsoft Publisher 97 was the first to turn up in the Microsoft Office suite, and the most recent edition, released in 2021, is available as part of Microsoft 365.

However, all good things – and Publisher – must come to an end. Microsoft has warned that the end is nigh for its venerable designer.

"In October 2026, Microsoft Publisher will reach its end of life," the company said. "After that time, it will no longer be included in Microsoft 365, and existing on-premises suites will no longer be supported. Until then, support for Publisher will continue, and users can expect the same experience as today."

Microsoft offered some tips for users facing a Publisher-less future, but due to the application's proprietary format, the future is uncertain for those wondering what to do with all those .pub files.

A Register reader worried what the impact would be said: "While we have a few pre-365 licenses for Publisher, who knows how long they will keep working with Windows 11+ or when activation capability will cease. The users who are already on 365 simply won't be able to update existing documents at all. More likely we'll need to use Word for everything from scratch. And we all know how good Word is with drawings and images."

Our reader uses Publisher for datasheets and Word for longer documentation.

We asked Microsoft what affected users should do and will update this article should the company respond. In the meantime, applications such as LibreOffice Draw and CorelDraw will have a go at importing .pub files, but there is no guarantee that you won't run into a specific feature of Publisher that needs the real thing.

Until October 2026 arrives, fans of Microsoft's early attempts at desktop publishing can gather around and sing songs of design disasters and cringe-inducing clip art. ®

Updated to add on February 22:

Italo Vignoli of the Document Foundation got in touch regarding support for Publisher files in LibreOffice Draw.

Crediting the Document Liberation project for the filters, Vignoli said: "The idea behind these filters to import legacy proprietary file formats was to allow users to import their files into an ISO standard document format (ODF, Open Document Format) to liberate themselves from vendor lock-in."

However, Vignoli also cautioned that while there might be improvements in the import filter in the future, "we are not going to invest in a set of new features for LibreOffice Draw which can tweak the program to manage small desktop publishing projects, as there are already other FOSS applications which cover that area."

A spokesperson for Alludo, the current developer of CorelDRAW, confirmed that the graphics editor would continue to support the opening and importing of Microsoft Publisher files for editing. However, at present, only files from versions 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2010 can be imported. "All other .pub files are not supported as of now."

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