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Microsoft Office 365 products not becoming the default program in Win7 - still default as Word Starter or Excel Starter

MikeJnz asked on

How do you make Word desktop, Excel etc the default programs in preference to Word Starter etc?


I have successfully installed Microsoft 365 home premium however Word and Excel Starter are still the default programs.


Going into Control Panel / Default Programs to change this the file types (eg .doc .docx etc) cannot be selected for Word Desktop.  These are showing as "Microsoft Office Client Virtualization Handler" only and cannot be changed.  


When a right-click a Word file in windows explorer and attempt to choose defaults it successfully opens the doc in Word but does not change the default.


In Default Programs I notice that the wrong icon is showing for these new office products (same icon as for Control Panel - Programs and Features with a box and disc) 


I have used Control-Panel Programs and Features <change> to reinstall Office three times (twice as Quick Repair and once with a full Online Repair) and no fix.


Naturally I do not wish to uninstall Starter as Office is on a monthly subscription and might not suit my needs (in fact MS online store has forced a 1-month free trial which ironically means they won't provide phone support until 'free' is concluded) 

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The answered status icon Answer
If you look carefully, I think you'll see that Starter is not so much "still" default as "again".  I found that Starter was annoyingly persistent about retaking Windows default, no matter how many times I re-assigned it.  I suspect, that there is a built in function to reset defaults to Starter, whether you ask it to or not.

As I see it you have a couple of options:
  1. In control panel, programs and Features, use "Office Repair" to reset defaults as needed
  2. use a batch file to re-register defaults as required
  3. Uninstall Starter
  4. Create copy of Portable Starter on a USB drive

#1 Takes a few minutes longer than I like to wait

#2 is actually quite fast, a good option if you don't want to uninstall Starter

#3 Starter should be part of the recovery partition, so you can get it back by re-installing Windows.


Re Register  re-register – regserver batch file

Make sure the path is correct for your installation. I have put these files into a BAT file on my desktop so I can run it as needed.

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2010\Office14\winword.exe" /unregserver

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2010\Office14\winword.exe" /regserver



"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2010\Office14\excel.exe" /unregserver

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2010\Office14\excel.exe" /regserver



Quick Determine Office applications path

·      open Excel

·      open the Visual Basic Editor (aka VBE)

·      open the Immediate window, Ctrl-g (also in the View menu)

·      type or paste the following in the Immediate window


·      With the cursor at the end of the line, ie after "path", hit Enter


#3 How to re-install Starter
HP instructions on Office Starter Repair, Program Manager, Uninstall Starter and Re-install Starter via Program Manager in Pictures

Although they are by HP, they can by used on many computers. The best instructions I've seen for "fixing" Office Starter are this HP page:


Panel includes 50 entries. Using this option, the same list is stripped down to a mere 25 entries.


Manual backup of Starter re-install files


Make a backup of the Starter installation files if you don’t have access to them elsewhere by copying the following directory to another location:



Re-install Office Starter




Office 2010 Starter is only officially installed by computer builders. If you google skillfully, there are a few links to the installation files.  Home users do not have access to the installation file so there are only 3 options for “re-installing” it.

There is an option that allows users to re-install Office Starter without using the recovery partition.  It requires that you have the “Microsoft Office 2010 Program Manager” installed. If you go into Programs and Features dialog, look for the “Microsoft Office 2010” entry.  The link above shows how this entry appears in Programs and Features, and how to use it to re-install Office Starter.


Starter is Part of the Recovery Partition



Hard drive recovery is a requirement for distributing Office Starter 2010. A hard-disk-based recovery solution enables Win7 to automatically recover from most known causes for unbootable systems as a result of loss or corruption of files.

This type of recovery will wipe out all of your installed programs and personal data files. Therefore, before starting this type of “repair” you should make a backup of your disk and make sure that you have the installation files and product keys for all of your applications.



MS Instructions to re-install Starter


If Word Starter 2010 or Excel Starter 2010 cannot be opened, uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Office Starter 2010:

1.   Click Start  (or Start > Run in Windows XP).

2.   Type appwiz.cpl, and then press Enter.

3.   Before going any further, make sure you see Microsoft Office 2010 in the list of installed programs. You'll need to use this program later to reinstall Office Starter 2010 on the computer.

4.   Click Microsoft Office Starter 2010, and then click Uninstall (or Remove in Windows XP). See image.

5.   Click Yes and follow the instructions to uninstall Office Starter 2010. See image.

6.   To reinstall Office Starter 2010, click Start > All Programs > Microsoft Office 2010. See image.

7.   Click Use. See image.

8.   And then click Open. This will re-install Office Starter 2010. See image.

If the error continues to occur, you may have to do a full restore of the computer to reinstall Microsoft Office Starter 2010. We recommend you contact the computer manufacturer to talk about your options before you do this.


Initialize Starter

You have to initialize starter before it will run.

Type Office Starter into search programs and files text box, using the resulting shortcut, a window should open, select starter and initialize, it will take a few minutes.

If there is still a problem call the PC makers support, office starter is a preinstalled version supported by that PC maker, and not MS, despite what the manufacturer “service” rep may tell you.


#4 Portable


Take Portable Office Starter with you


Portable starter only requires 400MB of space. The first time you run the installation Starter downloads an additional Device Manager, after that it simply uses the same Device Manager.


Create Portable Office 2010 Starter USB Flash Drive



The real portable Microsoft Office - USB Starter Version



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