Multiple versions of Office on one computer

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Putting Office variations on the one machine.

You can install and run multiple versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint on the one computer.  For example you can have Word 2003 and Word 2007 installed together.

Outlook is the exception – only one version of Outlook can exist on a computer at any time.

The main trick to co-existing versions of Office is to install the older version of Office first. For example install Office XP before Office 2003.

Make sure you deselect any option to replace an existing version of Office and ensure each version of Office is installed in a different folder under /Program Files.

Despite the assurances about multiple Office versions there can be hassles when you try.  Occasionally Office programs don’t behave, seemingly because some component isn’t playing nice with others.  There’s often confusion about which program will open an Office document when you double-click on it.

These days there is a better way. Virtual machines let you have separate operating systems run at the same time on one computer.  Microsoft’s Virtual PC is available for free from Microsoft though we prefer VMWare Workstation. Each virtual machine can run a separate version of Office, including Outlook, without conflicting with your main computer’s setup.   If you do a lot of work with multiple versions of Office, virtual machines are worth trying.

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