The continual evolution of Microsoft Office has always kept the IT community on its toes. The release of each new version is a big event for tech professionals, who must determine which version will best suit their needs. But what if you determine that you need two versions of Microsoft Office on the same computer? Is this possible, and, if so, what problems should you be on the lookout for?

Dualing Offices
TechRepublic member maria_elena_garcia is concerned with this very issue in our Technical Q&A. She wrote, “I need to install Office 2000, but need to keep Office 97 running on the same PC. I am a trainer and need to teach both versions.” To make things more difficult, Maria’s PC only has one hard drive. Will this present a problem? Is a dual install even possible?

Going to the source
Member camsbad pointed Maria to the Microsoft Knowledge Base: “There are explicit instructions for installing Office 2000 on the same computer that an earlier version of Office is also installed on.…Refer to article Q218861.” In this article, Microsoft is quick to state that although multiple versions of Office can be installed on the same machine, it is not recommended. Conflicts between the two versions can arise, especially if installed improperly. Camsbad also suggested visiting Microsoft’s Help and Support page, choosing Office 2000 Setup, and performing a keyword search for “Office 97.”

To partition or not to partition
If Maria decides to go through with the dual install, will having only one hard drive be a problem? Soulrider recommended using a separate partition: “You will need to set up a separate partition and install Office 2000 in a separate directory from that of Office 97, using software such as Partition Magic or Partition Commander.”

Microsoft, however, says that no partitioning is needed, but other factors, such as installation order, are important. Microsoft emphasizes that the order of installation must follow from earliest to latest. Thus, Maria will need to install Office 97 first, followed by 2000.

Been there, done that
Maria isn’t the only tech who wants to run multiple versions of Office. Member RichTee just completed a dual install of Office and offered Maria this advice:
“First, create a different folder for the installation of Office 2000. There is no problem for it to be on the same partition as Office 97, but it must be in a different folder. Second, during the installation, you will be asked if you wish to keep the previous versions of the different Office applications. Make sure you say yes to keep the previous versions.”

A custom installation should allow both versions of Office to run on the same PC. Just remember to create a separate folder for each version, and not to delete the older version during installation of 2000. Conflicts with certain applications, such as Microsoft Access and Outlook, can occur, but Microsoft outlines potential problems and solutions in its Knowledge Base article Q218861. Hopefully, Maria will have Office 97 and 2000 up and running in no time.

Share your dual Office tips

Are you running multiple versions of Office on your PC? What problems have you encountered? Post a comment to this article and share your thoughts, or visit TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A section to join the discussion.