Installing older Office on Windows 10


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Can Office 2007 and other older versions of Office (Office 2010, Office 2013) be installed on Windows 10.  What are the licensing, activation problems?  How about moving documents?

Eileen G asks a common question to Office Watch:

“I got a new HP desktop computer, but can I install the old MS orig office, “Home and Student 2007” edition on it with that cd and product key, or will it need to be uninstalled from the same model of desktop before that?
If that’s necessary, will I need to transfer all old word docs onto a flash drive to move them to the new PC? Thanks for your help.”

There are three issues here.

  • License and activation of Office 2007/2010/2013
  • Compatibility of Office 2007/2010/2013 on Windows 10
  • Migrating documents between new and old computer

License and activation of Office 2007/2010/2013

There’s a difference between the official license terms and what works in practice.

In practice, you can install and activate Office 2007 on a new computer.  Even if there’s a problem, it doesn’t hurt to try … it’s not like the Microsoft police will come banging on your door.

Gold Star to Eileen for having both the original Office 2007 CD and the vital Product Key.  Both are necessary to install and activate Office.

Office 2007/2010/2013 should install and activate with no trouble. It might be necessary to call Microsoft to get approval but that’s unlikely.  If it happens, just explain that you’re moving Office from one computer to another.

That’s allowed by the Office licence unless it’s an OEM version.  OEM licences of Office are special because they are limited to one machine (the one that came with Office) and is not transferable.

Officially, Office 2007 can be installed on two computers (a desktop and laptop) at any time.  However, the monitoring of older Office use isn’t as strict as it is for Office 365.  After installation, Office 2007/2010/2013 gets approval/activation from Microsoft just once.

There was never any way for Microsoft to enforce the desktop/laptop distinction. That part of the official licence was and is ignored. Plenty of people installed Office 2007/2010/2013 on two desktops or two laptops with no trouble or consequences.

Uninstalling Office from the older computer should not be necessary.

Compatibility of Office 2007/2010/2013 on Windows 10

Again, there’s a gap between the official line from Microsoft and what works in the real world.

Office 2007 will install and run on Windows 10

Microsoft doesn’t recommend Office 2007 because they no longer support it (support ended October 10, 2017). There are no more bug fixes or crucially security fixes for Office 2007. Of course, Microsoft would also prefer people buy Office 365 <g>.

That said, it should be OK to still run Office 2007 on Windows with some conditions:

  • Make sure Office 2007 is fully patched and updated after it’s installed from the original CD. That might take several passes of Microsoft Update to catch up on all the patches.
  • Be careful of incoming documents and emails, just like all computer users should be.
    • Windows Defender is part of Windows 10 and does a good job checking incoming documents for nasties.
  • There may be some small compatibility issues related to Access and its runtime engine. Those don’t bother the vast majority.
  • Outlook is a bigger concern. There have been a lot of changes in email security/login over the last decade. Some email services won’t work nicely with Outlook 2007. It might be necessary to use POP3/SMTP which isn’t ideal.
    • Make sure Outlook 2007 is updated to version 12.0.6680.5000 or later (check Help | About). That’s the version which starts supporting full Outlook.com connections.

Office 2007 was the first Office to use the ‘modern’ Office document formats (.docx .xlsx .pptx etc). There are differences in the formatting between Office versions, but not usually enough to be a problem.  Later versions of Office can happily read Office 2007 documents.  Some newer Office features (like Icons) aren’t supported by Office 2007.

Why Old Office documents should be banned

Migrating documents between new and old computer

The most straight-forward way to move documents is using a USB memory stick.

Make sure you copy everything including, if necessary, Outlook PST files.

The USB stick can be a useful backup. Keep the documents on it as a backup at the time of migration between the two computers as a safety copy.

If you’re disposing of the old computer, make sure all your personal files and details are completely erased.

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