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Installing older Office on Windows 11

Can Office 2007 and other older versions of Office (Office 2010, Office 2013) be installed on Windows 11?  What are the licensing, activation problems?  How about moving documents?

There are four issues to consider; licencing, compatibility, support/patches and migrating documents:

Officially only these versions of Microsoft Office are supported on Windows 11:

  • Microsoft 365 (Office 365)
  • Office 2021
  • Office 2019
  • Office 2016

But that’s just Microsoft official and self-serving line. In practice, older versions of Office can be installed on Windows 11.

The older Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs should work fine on Windows 11. Outlook is a special case because of changing mailbox login security requirements. There might be problems with older Access and its runtime engine.

This advice is mostly for people who have an older copy of Microsoft Office that they’d like to use on their newer computer. If you want to run older versions of Office for testing or compatibility, there are better options, see below.

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 older Microsoft Office 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.

You’ll need both the original Office install CD and the vital Product Key.  Both are necessary to install and activate older versions of Microsoft 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.

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 Microsoft 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 license 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.

OEM Office is special

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

See What Office License do you have? Retail, Volume or OEM

Compatibility of Office 2007/2010/2013 on Windows 11

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 11

Microsoft doesn’t recommend Office 2007 because they no longer support it (support ended October 10, 2017 about 6 years, 4 months ago ). There are no more bug fixes or crucially security fixes for Office 2007.

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 11 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.

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.

Outlook might not work

Outlook is the big 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 and Outlook 2010, possibly also Outlook 2013.

The workaround might be using POP3/SMTP connection which isn’t ideal and might not be available.

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

Microsoft support (security/big fixes)

While Microsoft Office back to Office 2007 should work on Windows 11, keep in mind that the older Office releases aren’t supported by Microsoft. Meaning there’s no patches or updates for security or other problems.

As we mentioned above, there have been significant changes to mailbox login technologies which make access to your email a lot more secure. However older versions of Outlook do NOT support the more secure logins.

Office 2010 and Windows 11

Office 2010 is also out of support (ended 13 Oct 2020, about 3 years, 4 months ago) but should work with Windows 10.

Office 2013 and Windows 11

Office 2013 ends support 11 April 2023, about 10 months ago , but should work with Windows 10.

Office 2016 and Windows 11

Office 2016 IS supported on Windows 11. Office 2016 ends support 14 October 2025, about 1 year, 7 months from today

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.

Better ways to run old Microsoft Office on newer Windows

If you need running versions of Microsoft Office for testing or compatibility, there are better choices than trying to install on Windows 11.

DON’T install more than one Office

In the ‘olden days’, it was possible to install more than one version of Microsoft Office on a computer. For example, installing both Office 2007 and Office 2010. It was possible but not a good idea because there was plenty of confusion and conflicts.

Virtual Machines

The better option is to use a Virtual Machine or VM. A ‘VM’ is ‘computer within a computer’ or a copy of Windows (called a Guest) that runs on special software on a computer (called the Host).

That means you can have a copy of, say, Windows 7 running as a virtual machine on Windows 10 or 11. That virtual machine can have a copy of older Office installed on it.

Using virtual machines means you can have older version of Office (or any software) available without worrying about compatibility or conflicts.

The virtual machine options for Windows are Hyper/V (with Windows Pro editions) or VMware Workstation (our preference). On a Mac there is Parallels or VMware Fusion.

Our Windows for Microsoft Office books have a chapter devoted to virtual machines and Microsoft Office including a step-by-step starter.

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