Office 2000 and Windows 7

Can you run Office 2000 on Windows 7?

Gene writes asking about running his Office 2000 software on his new computer with Windows 7.

Office 2000 is shown as ‘NOT compatible’ on the official Windows 7 software compatibility list.

Office XP (2002), Office 2003, Office 2007 and Office 2010 are listed as compatible with Windows 7.

You can try to install and run Office 2000 on Windows 7 but it either won’t install or you’ll get some strange behaviors.

What are the alternatives?

There are all sorts of alternatives available, depending on your needs and budget:

Buy Office 2010, obviously. The Home and Student edition is selling for around $120 in the USA.

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Gene has a new computer, perhaps the Office 2010 Starter Edition was included? If so, the Starter Edition has limited function versions of Word and Excel that should be enough for most people. There’s no time limit on the Starter Edition.

Depending on the version of Windows 7 you could use ‘Windows XP mode’ to run Office 2000. ‘XP mode’ is only available in higher versions of Windows 7 and is really Microsoft’s Virtual PC with a supplied Windows XP virtual machine. All versions of Windows 7 can run the free Virtual PC, but for lower priced versions of Windows you have to create your own virtual machine (easy for your average geek and cheaper than buying an expensive Windows 7).

It might be possible to get a copy of an older MS Office (maybe Office 2003) from a second-hand source like a garage or boot sale. Some places have dedicated second hand computer parts sales. If choosing this option make sure that you get the original install disk and product key.  These sales are permittted as long as the licensing rules are obeyed.

Use OpenOffice which can read older MS Office documents (.doc etc) as well as read but not write the newer document formats (.docx etc as well as the similar OpenDocument formats ).

You can always try Office 2010 on a 60 day trial while you decide which ongoing option suits you best.

Follow up

We’ve had numerous reports from people about running Office 2000 on Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit)

Those reports are mixed, some people install and run Office 2000 without trouble. Others can’t install while others start getting curious errors when running the software. It’s a classic ‘Your mileage my vary’ situation.

Since the Office 2000/Windows 7 combination isn’t supported by Microsoft, we’re cautious — we’d hate for someone to use Office 2000 on Windows 7 then lose work as a result. Since there are alternatives, like the ‘Windows XP mode’ or a virtual machine we feel they are safer routes than using an unsupported software combination and discovering problems the hard way.

That said, it would be good if Microsoft explained in a little detail what the incompatibility is. These days there’s always the suspicion that something is labeled ‘unsupported’ to encourage sales rather than real technical problems. Microsoft could overcome that suspicion with a bit more openness.