DIY

DIY: How to find older versions of Microsoft Office software

Jack Wallen offers several suggestions to a TechRepublic member who is interested in locating older versions of Microsoft Office software.

Read my answer to TechRepublic reader Kyle Strong's question, and then please post additional tips for the member in the discussion.

Q: Where can I locate older versions of MS Office software? A: Ah, the old standards. I have been getting this question for years now, and my answer is always the same: you really can't. You might get lucky and find a torrent site that offers a download or two, but those downloads are more than likely going to be of the nefarious sorts. The problem with earlier versions of MS Office is that you can't even contact Microsoft, because they are simply going to attempt to sell you a newer version. Your best bet is to cut your losses and either purchase a new license for a newer product, or better still download the latest version of LibreOffice and be done with it.

If you really must have that MS Office 2003 suite, you can either do a search for the string "ms office 2003 torrent" and take your chances, or do a search on eBay for an old copy. After running an eBay search, I managed to find a copy of MS Office 2003 with a bid of $32.00 USD at the time of this writing.

I also suggest that, when you purchase CDs, copy those discs onto a hard drive and keep them around that way. You could even set up an ISO server to hold all of your installation discs so they're accessible by every machine on your network.

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

25 comments
jsharp007
jsharp007

Another thought, ISO's work like "zip" files and may be unzipped. My favorite utility is 7zip. Just right click on an iso and select unzip.

bobpeg
bobpeg

If you have MS Office 2007 or 2010, download Ubit software here: http://www.ubit.ch/software/ubitmenu-languages , and add the old style menus so you have both. Many clients have thanked me for this. It is free for home use and ridiculously cheap for business use (approx. $10-15 one time fee and about $1 per machine depending on the exchange rate).

Regulus
Regulus

I tolerated MS 2007 for less than 2 week before re-installing 2003 which I still very happily use. Whether we like it or not, MS Office seems to be 'Industry Standard'. Otherwise, I'd be using OOF/LO. For anyone communicating with anyone else, if it's not MS, then it's 'issues'. With MS it is also 'Issues' . Consider our less-fortunate brothers & sister recently joining the growing legions of the unemployed. They pick up a new laptop or go the the local unemployment agency to work on or update their resume. And guess what? Both options are (pre) loaded with MS 2010 which is not compatible with the (unmodified) MS 2003 that their target employer is using. Guess who never even had a chance at that job. Another issue is that if you purchase a new unit with an MS Office pre-install (even the try-to-buy). You may find that you cannot install your MS 2003 on your new machine. You continually get an Invalid PID error. You have been (inclined plane/spiral/board). Yes, MS 2003 can be properly and legally installed on your new unit - however it will require intensive IT 'savvy' or the employment of someone who has it. This subject could go on for hours.....

Daddy Tadpole
Daddy Tadpole

I run a small local association whose 50 members subscribe 5 euros a year. That means that according to M$ terms I'd have to pay full price for their recent software. Unfortunately, it isn't really practical to get our members to use the free software offerings. I use legitimate installations of 2000 and 2003 to check OOo in and out in .doc format, but don't ask anybody's permission to change computers. Similar arguments apply to various bits of scientific and mathematical software (WIndows, as it's related to stuff I did when I was working). As I'm retired, 500 euros a go for updates is out of the question. I may have to buy Windows 7 professional in order to have acess to older versions of that OS. Finally, in support of other posters, my main objection to M$ Office, apart from the price, is that ribbon thing; at one time it didn't even allow you to have superscripts and subscripts. As they say in France (specially at Tour de France time), M$ appear to have lost their pedals.

beckola
beckola

And to all the 'do-gooders' who are trying to save us from ourselves by preaching the legality of it all. That's fine and you're right. Sharing software is illegal. My guess is if you're preaching it, you probably make a living from it. I'm guessing you all don't roam the streets looking for people illegally 'sharing' other goods and services. In fact, you're probably the first one to accept a hand-off of a 'non-transferable parking pass, used but still good for entry(but illegal) ticket stub, etc. But of course things like that is ok to you.. because you don't own the parking lot, the concert venue, band, etc. So let's all just be smart and fair about what we do in regard to using software. In my opinion every one in the country can have and download my Office 2003. But my Office 2010 and Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, those are new programs which I happily paid the companies for the privilege to use. A lot of skilled people worked very hard and came out with some great tools in each and omn my opinion, if you want the privilege to use these current Gen programs, you should do as I did and legally buy your own copy. However, ask me in 3 years and they're yours...LOL

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Actually, I bot my home copy of Office 2003 Pro thru the classifieds in the paper. I waited until 2005 and found somebody willing to part with their CD and license for a deep discount. It works fine. You can find similar ads in Craigslist. Around the same time, I didn't set my Dad up with 2003. He really didn't need or want it. Instead I set him up with OpenOffice. It was free and did what he wanted.

gharlow
gharlow

for about $350 or sometimes $250 with a coupon code you can subscribe to Technet (technet.microsoft.com) I believe they have office versions back to 2000 last I checked...

Ez_Customs
Ez_Customs

Why woudl a Business who uses old software want to have a downloaded copy not by a monitored secured site? Seems to me that Torrent downloads though Fairly safe anymore, isn't a Good way to go for businesses. I mean 80% of all the Viruses found on torrents can be removed without Damaging the software's integrity, but that requires someone with the know how half the time. What the Author is suggesting is completely legal, but I am not sure that he should be pushing this so hard. yes old software gets hard to find, but there are stores online that still sell the stuff. Ebay though is probably the best piece of advise, and cheapest. However buying software and using the keys that came with it, technically if you are oen to actually read the keys, is illegal if it has been used on any PC. Yes Folks, if you use a Key on PC 1, and you upgrade to a new PC and you use the same key, you just broke the license agreement on most of Microsoft's License's. Even Windows. You didn't really think that Volume License was an option for bug business did you? It seems that when you get a New PC you are required to buy a new key. this is true BTW!!

jcpj
jcpj

You can get Old versions of Office from Technet. A standard membership will cost you $199 and you get all these versions for one low price... Office XP, Office 2003, Office 2007, Office 2010 and MAC Home and Office 2011.

RussellXPD
RussellXPD

Aren't you missing another solution? One of the advantages of being an old hand is that I have several old computers, and - would you believe it - I've got a lot of functional old software and previous versions of stuff that are not generally in use. This doesn't mean, if I want to use Office 2000 or some such that I have to start up an old box. I've extracted HDD's from old computers, so I've either got the software on the original hard drives, accessible via SATA, or I have copies of drives on a terabyte EDD. Occasionally I use Word 2000 or Open Office 2 available on another drive. Suppose you're worried about security, patches, updates, etc? Don't be. I've always got one computer permanently offline and I can work on that safely before, at the last minute, exporting my files then giving them a quick check with AVG or some such. Suppose you're new to it all and haven't got the old version you want? One friend of mine went onto Ebay to buy an old computer which had an old game which most people have forgotten about. Often the old hardware has the sought after software available for a snip. Eh? RussXPD

Daddy Tadpole
Daddy Tadpole

Isn't it funny how nowadays nobody can imagine the idea of working without a network or internet connection? Rather surprisingly, operating systems don't seem to have a simple facility for temporarily disabling communications when you want to do something a bit risky. I use OOo/LO most of the time, but it still has various maddening glitches. Many people wouldn't notice these, but one has to remember that office suites try to be comprehensive because no two users have identical user requirements.

seannyob
seannyob

This is really dangerous advice, for more than one reason, Jack. First, M$ products which are no longer supported are not going to ship security updates...and while the company still may be shipping security updates for older versions of Office at the moment (are they?), they sure won't forever. Second, I'll assume that most of your readers will know better than to install torrents willy-nilly, but still, it's terrible advice from a security standpoint, and likely illegal to boot. Similarly and lastly, just having installation media doesn't mean that SysAds will have a valid license to use. This is not free software, it's Microsoft Office. Folks, be wary what laws you're breaking--and what laws you're suggesting could be broken--just to get away from upgrading.

ahmadzafar
ahmadzafar

If I do manage to get an older copy of Office like 2003 or XP. Would MS ask me to buy a license for it or MS does cares for the older versions? Would it be legal to use such old versions?

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Anything to keep that ribbon out of my office. If you have one good copy of the installation media then all you need are licenses.

beckola
beckola

My copy of Office 2003 has been passed around like a $10 H--ker. It probably has 50 installs on the one activation key. Never has anyone ever reported it didn't work, was deactivated, etc. This won't fly on O 2007, O 2010. But 2003, if you have the discs and the original key, you're fine.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

You are not entitled to reinstall OEM or DSP software onto another computer ("It lives and dies with the machine") but if you purchased the retail edition of the software you can uninstall and reinstall on a new machine as many times as you like, as long as it is not running simultaneously on more computers than you have licences. The same applies to Open Licence - indeed, this is the precise point of *having* OL packages; many companies refresh hardware from time to time without necessarily upgrading the software installed on it. And yes, "Even Windows" - that is to say, if your Windows was preinstalled on the computer when you bought it, it belongs to the computer; if you purchased a retail disk and installed it yourself you can purge that computer and reinstall on another.

jlwallen
jlwallen

There are a lot of clients I see that can neither afford to upgrade to a newer version of Office, or simply don't want to....for many of them I always recommend LibreOffice. But there are some that simply will not budge.

Ez_Customs
Ez_Customs

Actually your half right. The only Dangerous thing that is suggested at all here is Torrents, and the worry about some injected virus. The Legality of it all comes to the users responsibility. To put it short, when you buy a Software you don't' own it, you own the Key that comes with it. So on teh Legality of the Torrent Download, that software doesn't become illegal unless one of about three things happens. 1.) You install it and if it is a 100% Cracked installer, you don't use your own key/s 2.) the installer asks for a key during setup, and you don't use a Key you own 3.) you install software that is legitimately installed without a key and then leaves the responsibility to the user to be honest, and use it before purchasing. Basically that is teh BLUNT in your Face version of the usage of software. remember folks, you don't buy the software, you buy the license. This is how you loose access to your License with the use of software. it is how they secure the software. The onyl thing you own is teh KEy. Can I rub this in more. You don't' own the software and you never will, you own the key and how it is used used. Software isnt' illegal till you use a key you didn't purchase

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

It doesn't matter if you have the original CD or a backup. It doesn't matter if you only have the setup files, regardless of their origin. To be legal you just need a license key that you legally own.

dusan.vidovic
dusan.vidovic

If you have a license for a latest version (not OEM !) of MS software - as I understood it - you are entitled to downgrade to an older version. Now, getting the working copy of the equivalent old software edition and a key to activate it... you should contact MS for that.

Shadeburst
Shadeburst

@Spitfire_Sysop, I feel like I landed on Planet Zog and at last I found someone who speaks English!

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

You used a lot of words to say the same thing that I did. After I said it already. The number of times you typed "teh" instead of "the" is staggering. I suppose it is more common when writing such a windy response.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

I didn't like the ribbon either, at first. But life goes on, and even if it is "change for its own sake" the world adopts new stuff and if you don't adapt to it, you die. Or get left behind, which in this business is the same thing. It doesn't take too much getting used to, and after you have used it for a while it's almost like second nature; longer still and you might even come to like it. Having used every version of Office since before it was even called "Office", I am now just as able to use the 2000/XP/2003 style menus as the ribbon style. Get out of your comfort zones, people - if you aren't growing you're dying.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

your half right - you're users responsibility - user's don't' - don't (twice) loose access - lose isnt' - isn't Not to mention the somewhat Random use of capital Letters...