(content added, May 18, 2011) Note: The content of this web page is outdated. For details on ai files created by Adobe Illustrator version CS2 or above, see the following page. How to handle ai (Adobe Illustrator) files with free tools
Use free software
XnView – Free Image converter that supports 16 file formats
Inkscape – Open source image editing software
Inkscape, a vector image editing tool, is multifunctional for free software. You can find a lot of tutorials and know-hows on the Web.
Use software which is normally installed on PCs
The internal structure has changed from EPS to PDF since version 9. Check out the version number of Illustrator by which the .ai file has been created.
Version 9 or higher (PDF)
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader and install it. Then, start Acrobat Reader and drag an .ai file to the application window. Click “File” > “Save as a Copy” and you can save the file as PDF file.
Version 8 or lower (EPS)
Use Microsoft Office (Word,Excel,Power Point).
Steps 1. Launch an Office application (Word,Excel, or Power Point) to create a file. 2. Click "File" > "Insert" > “Picture" > "From File”, and change the file type to “All files” to select an .ai file 3. Dialog box named “File Convert” appears to prompt you for the source file format. Choose "Illustrator EPS (*.EPS)", the second option from the bottom, and click “OK”.