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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 Anniversary Update. 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.

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 2016
  • Office 2013/Office 365
  • 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.

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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