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Basics: Install Microsoft Office for Free on Windows

The scenario: You need to get a copy of  Microsoft Office 2010 installed on your Windows-based computer, but don’t wish to buy a copy the Application. You heard there were free options available for this software but we’re sure how to get the application installed. Included in Microsoft Office 2010 Starter are stripped down versions of Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word. In this article, you’ll install a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 Starter or a trial version for free on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer (sadly, Windows XP is not included).

1. You need to download the installation files for Office 2012 Starter. First, grab this file and place it in a folder. Then, get the rest of the supporting files (20 of them) directly from Microsoft. Use this text listing of all the files you need. Make sure you have every file in a folder before moving to the next step.

2. Now, make sure no other version of Office is on this computer. Then, start the installation of Office Starter by right clicking on “SetupConsumerC2ROLW.exe” and choosing “Run as Administrator…”. Let the installation finish. You actually won’t see a window that says “Installation Completed”, but it’s not a very long process and a reboot isn’t required.

3. You may also decide to install a copy of the Powerpoint Viewer 2010 to finish off this installation.

That’s it, you now have a version of Office that is limited, but still usable. Here’s what Microsoft says about Starter’s capabilities:

What end users can do with Office Starter 2010
– Create and edit basic Word documents and Excel spreadsheets with 100 percent file fidelity
– Open existing Word and Excel documents
– Manage a simple home budget
– Write letters
– Create newsletters with photos and easily send them out

What end users cannot do with Office Starter 2010
– Create PowerPoint presentations
– Manage email with Outlook
– Organize notes, media, and project resources in one place using Microsoft OneNote
– Add comments or track changes to documents
– Analyze data with pivot tables
– Enhance documents with SmartArt graphics
– Automate and accelerate repetitive tasks using programmable macros
– Customize the quick access toolbar
– Connect to an external data source in Excel
– Create a report with a table of contents, footnotes, and bibliographies
– Turn off the advertisements
This is just a partial list of the functionality missing from Office Starter 2010. However, end users can activate the missing functionality by purchasing a Product Key Card for an appropriate full Office suite.

Many have commented on the fact that this version of Office is only legally pre-installable by original manufacturers (OEMs) for their clients. In general, if you have a computer that came with Windows, you probably qualify for this on some level (though licensing may be never as flexible as it should be). Other will note that this version cannot be upgraded with a key card, or PKC version.

Trial Versions
If that’s your desire, yet another option is to download a trial version of Office 2013 (a week) or Office 2010 Home & Business 2010 (get a key here), burn that to a disc or copy it to a folder. Run the full installation and from within one of the Office applications you’ll be able to use a key card to license the suite.