A look at running older versions of Microsoft Office on Windows 10

Technical Level : Basic

Summary

Bill Gates once said you could purchase a license for a version of any software from Microsoft and never have to purchase another version. It is the responsibility of the company to make newer releases more enticing by adding further value through improved features and functionality. Microsoft Office has been one of the company's biggest successes. For more than 20 years, the company has released new revisions with unique features that make it an enticing upgrade. At the same time, there are users who fall in love with a revision and never decide to upgrade again, simply because that version is good enough.

Since Microsoft announced the launch of Windows 10, a lot of persons are asking, if the license for the version of Microsoft Office they own will work on the new version of Windows. In this article, we'll find out.


Details

Update: Microsoft recently updated the requirements for running Microsoft Office on the Windows 10. Starting with Windows 10, version 10 1607 or later, Office 2007 is no longer certified compatible. This does not mean you can't run Office 2007 on Windows 10; as evidenced by the fact that versions as old as Office 95 still work on Windows 10, you should still be able to install and use it. It is possible future updates and revisions to Windows 10 might break the suite or functionality might no longer work.

Source: Which versions of Office work with Windows 10? - Microsoft Office

Which versions of Microsoft Office are officially supported Windows 10?

The following versions of Microsoft Office with the latest Service Packs have been confirmed to be compatible with Windows 10:

  • Office 2019 or Office 365 subscriptions
  • Office 2016
  • Office 2013
  • Office 2010 (exception Office Starter 2010)

Older versions of Office such as Office 2007, Office 2003 and Office XP are not certified compatible with Windows 10 but might work with or without compatibility mode.

Please be aware that Office Starter 2010 is not supported. You will be prompted to remove it before the upgrade starts.

Is Office included for free with Windows 10?

No, desktop Office 2016/Office 365 or any prior version will not be free. Microsoft Office Team has developed a special touch optimized version of Microsoft Office for Tablets running Windows 10. This will be a free limited functionality version gear towards basic editing in Tablet mode. It lacks many of the capabilities of desktop Office. You can download it from the store.

UPDATE: The Touch Optimized versions of office

Learn more:

The next chapter of Office on Windows - Office Blogs

What about older versions of the suite though, such as Office 2000, Office XP (2002) and Office 2003?

Recently I came across an article by noted Windows extraordinaire Paul Thurrott discussing a recent Twitter tease from Gabe Aul (Engineering General Manager for Data and Fundamentals team in Microsoft's Operating Systems Group) showing a vintage version of the suite; Office for Windows 95 running on Windows 10. I thought this was interesting to know that 20 year old software runs just fine on the latest version of Windows. Talk about bringing your investments forward!


Word for Windows 95 running on Windows 10 - source here

With a volume of questions on the Windows 10 Reservation forum asking whether their Office 2000, 2003 or XP version is compatible; I decided to do so some test for users who would like to know. So, I went in the garage and looked for those exact copies to try them out on Windows 10. Based on Gabe Aul's screenshot, we can pretty much confirm Office 95 and Office 97 will likely run. If I have the time, I will update this article and give those versions a try at a later date.

Setup

All three versions started setup nicely with exception for Office 2000 setup which presented an error message during the install:

Error 1904. Module C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files(System\OLE DB\MSOLAP.DLL failed to register. HRESULT -2148024714 Contact yoru support support personnel.

Running Office setup for 2000, XP and 2003 on Windows 10

I promptly clicked Ignore a couple times and setup completed successfully. Later versions such as Office XP and Office 2003 never gave any problems. Please note, I did not make any modifications to setup such as compatibility mode, they all ran and installed without any problem.

All three versions installed successfully

Testing Office programs

All apps with the exception of Outlook ran great on Windows 10. I was able to open, create and save documents in all versions of apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher.

Outlook was the only problematic app in the suite.

Outlook 2000 required using compatibility mode to run properly, it kept crashing each time I launched it. So thats something to keep in mind. Oulook 2002 never gave any problems at all and ran successfully without any modifications. Outlook 2003 was another story, I tried compatibility mode and it seem to make it worse. So, if you depend on Outlook, you should consider upgrading to a later version such as Outlook 2007 or 2013.

Office 2000

Office XP (2002)

Office 2003

Publisher versions 2000, 2002 and 2003

Publisher 98

Installation:

You will get the following error regarding the custom dictionary when you launch Publisher 98. Apart from that, it works and functions just fine:

There you have it, Publisher 98 running on Windows 10 November Update without issue and no need for compatibility mode:

Conclusion

This was not a thorough test, apps like FrontPage or OneNote were not evaluated. Core apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher work just fine on Windows 10. By the way, I used Windows 10 64 bit, so users won't have to worry about compatibility issues with this architecture. It remains to be seen if future updates to Windows might break the suite. I will say, I used the RTM versions of each suite. So, I would recommend users of these versions make sure the latest Service Packs, updates and security updates are applied.

Keep in mind, Microsoft no longer supports these older versions of the suite, so you weigh the risk of running such versions. Apart from the Office Assistant displaying a rose pink box; there should be no problems running older versions of Office on Windows 10.

Happy computing!

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I'm running Office 2007 and upgraded to Windows 10 maybe 3 weeks ago. In both Excel and Word, I cannot Save or Save As new documents.  Even a simple 10 line Word document will not save. It starts cycling and just continues.  Discovered the same issue In Excel tonight - tried to copy over one worksheet to a separate document.  The cycling started.  

I can open that same  Excel document, make changes, etc. then close it down. It will prompt me to save it, but if I affirmatively try to save, it cycles.  I tried to create the new document, then close it. It prompts me to save, but won't let me name it.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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One snag I encountered was, the older version used 32 bit (exe) for the Help button.

However, the program functions, just have to look elsewhere for help.

As you pointed out, be forewarned you may be directed to

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/917607

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You must be living in cloud cuckoo land given the number of problems that people are reporting without successful resolution. I have Office 2010(full version) and not only has Outlook only worked as administrator since installing Windows 10, Word and Excel will no longer save files, telling me I do not have permission to save in that location (I can try to save to any location, I still get the same refusal) and to contact my administrator (me!). This means in practice that other than using email (and how long is that going to continue to work?) and surfing my laptop is only of use as a doorstop. If Microsoft do not sort out these problems and I have to buy a new machine I will certainly not be using Windows anymore.

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I learned many years ago not to jump at the new updates. Yes, I know that there are real positive plus's and eventually previous versions of systems such as Office will be outdated, but the cost of prematurely jumping is costly. I have had issues with Outlook from Office 2007 when updating to Windows 2007. I had to pay extra for MS techs to correct corrupted and mismatched files. MS is there to make money and complex systems like Office are designed to run well if they are the latest versions to match the latest OS. It is sad when you have to start updating all your other programs at your cost and it becomes quite expensive. My suggestion is stay with what OS you have until you can't any further. I already have an I-pad and I phone and will likely go to an Apple system. Less problems too. I know as friends have done likewise and are happy. Sorry MS but you are leaving many patriots in the dust.

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I had Office 2003 running on my Win 7 machine with all the latest security updates and compatibility pack installed, and saw no reason to change...it did what I needed.  Before upgrading to Win 10 I checked the compatibility checker site, and found that Office 2003 was no longer supported, so I pretty much resigned myself to buying Office 365 as part of the Win 10 upgrade.

But then I went ahead and upgraded to Win 10 with Office 2003 still installed, and much to my great joy everything works fine!  Now I only use office for Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint...no Outlook or Access, so maybe these other apps will have issues...but for the ones I use it's working great.

Maybe having everything installed before going to Win 10 is the key, I dunno.  But I'm happy to stick with Office 2003 despite the dire warnings about possible security problems. 

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I am sick and tired of all these constant Office revisions. Just when I got comfortable with one version they come up with another and change everything around, the 2007 version was just awful and required me to learn to use Office all over again. What a colossal waste of time. 

The problem with staying with the old versions of Office is Microsoft in their greedy wisdom decides they will no longer support older versions claiming that they have become obsolete. The only reason older version of Office are obsolete is that Microsoft needs to fill their coffers by using an old antiquated model of economics called planned obsolescence. If something works and works well how can they say it has become obsolete? I don't understand why Microsoft doesn't continue to support their products until the consumer decides it is time to upgrade rather than the other way around. If they need to raise funds to do this, just charge the customer base a reasonable fee. Let's say there are 500 million users worldwide still using Office 2003. Let's say one fifth decide to keep running office 2003.  Let's say Microsoft charges the modest sum of 10 dollars per year to these 100 million users. If my math is correct that is one billion dollars. Not bad for a years work! 

The same argument can be made for Windows. Actually upgrading Windows is a much bigger headache but that is a discussion for another thread. 

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I'm relieved to hear that Office 2003 apparently works on Windows 10. I'm using it on Windows 7, and I'm about to install it on a new Windows 10 computer. We have four computers running Windows 7, and I don't intend to update any of them. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Some people commented that Office 2003 programs wouldn't save properly on Windows 10. I wonder if that's a permission/ownership problem. Whenever I buy a new computer, I spent a couple of days fighting with Windows to get ownership of my hard drives and directories. Windows is especially reluctant to let go of the C drive.

Office 2003 is quite simply the pinnacle of the Office series. It's stable, user-friendly, and infinitely configurable. The multi-document interface (MDI) is brilliant. All open documents are together in one window, with one set of toolbars. You can see instantly which document is selected. Office 2013 has a window for every document, each one with its own ribbon and QAT. I'd be happy to pay Microsoft an annual fee to continue supporting Office 2003 with security updates and new features. Either way, I'm going to continue using it as long as I can. Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 are the work of arrogant adolescents who have no inkling of what users really want or need.

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I do not know how you got Office XP loaded. I tried with my clean install win 10 and could not get the installer to do it's job. Previous years using xp I had to go into Additions/Deletions Of Programs to run the installer there. No such choice exists in win 10, or did you find another way?

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Microsoft has so far locked itself into the thinking that prevailed in Detroit in 1955.  Successive models scaled new heights in glitz and bling while brakes remained at a frighteningly inadequate levels.  Someone else tried this back in the early days of motoring.  Ettore Bugatti built cars with no brakes whatsoever.  He contemptuously dismissed critics by saying "I make my cars to go, not to stop!"  

I am an aeronautical and automotive engineer; in both fields, there is a very wise and safe path that is labelled 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it!!  Microsoft has side-stepped this by pursuing the Detroit 1955 path - higher tail fins, more chrome plate and inadequate brakes.  Anyone who complains about reduced functionality and absence of logic is waved away with "well, if you want to be an old fuddy-duddy, that's up to you."  This is a close parallel to Bugatti's attitude to brakes!    There isn't any sign that Microsoft will change this attitude so we have to wear the glitz and bling masquerading as serious software.  

That said, I will try to use Office XP and see what happens.  Anything that doesn't employ the 'ribbon' kiddiewinkies is worth trying!!

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I am using office XP on windows 10.

While you dont require compatibility mode to run it, you need a compatibility pack to open the later versions of files and since everyone just about sends me the .docx version you need a compatibility pack to open the documents if they are sent to you via email for example. they (i think) can save the file as a previous version and then send it but unsure how many places would actually do this.

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Last updated March 5, 2021 Views 440,498 Applies to: