If you're a support professional, you know all about having multiple versions of software on your system. You need to cover the bases by having all the versions that your users may blow up. However, even if you're not a techie, you may be one of those more cautious people who would like to keep the old version of your software running while installing/learning the new version...just in case!
With the introduction of Office 2007, many of you may be considering purchasing the new version, but will want to keep that warm and fuzzy previous version of Office around to help you get over rush deadlines, since doing projects in new software can take longer as you search for commands, or may not even work the way you need it to work.
In this article, I'll first provide you with some info about licensing so you'll know if what you want to do with multiple versions is even legal. Then I'll show you how to install multiple versions of Office on the same system. And finally, I'll show you a cool trick that will get over the reconfiguring lag you have to suffer through when opening a different version of Word.
Licensing for Multiple Versions
Okay, I tried to get a simple clarification on this question and it turned into a can o' worms. As anyone who has dealt with licensing issues in a large office can tell you...the issues between various licensing scenarios can be mind boggling! So I'm not going to deal with enterprise licensing here. If you can afford those types of licenses, chances are you have staff who can dig into the details, or at least have enough money to pay the fines if you don't do it right!<smirk> So this section will just try to clarify a few issues for the single or small office user.
The first thing that will be confusing is that the Microsoft Knowledgebase (KB) article explaining how to successfully install multiple versions of Office (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/928091/en-us) says, "You can install and use more than one version of Microsoft Office on a single computer. For example, you can install and use both Microsoft 2007 Office suites and programs and Microsoft Office 2003 on the same computer. However, we do not recommend this."
But, if you read your license for Microsoft Office, it might tell you that you are not allowed to use multiple versions. In fact, the Office 2007 License for the Professional, Retail version states, "UPGRADE OR CONVERSION. To upgrade or convert software, you must first be
licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade or conversion. Upon
upgrade or conversion, this agreement takes the place of the agreement for the
software you upgraded or converted from. After you upgrade or convert, you may
no longer use the earlier version of the software you upgraded or converted from."
Yes, the two statements seem to contradict each other. One says you can, the other says you may not. I think it all comes down to grammar and two key words in the above permissions. The techies running the KB say "yes you CAN do this." But the legal beagles writing the licenses say "no you MAY not do this." In other words...yes, it is technically possible that you can run more than one version, but, depending on your license, there's a good chance that doing so will be illegal!"
It all comes down to how many licenses you have and what type of use they permit.
First, understand that if you are using an OEM license, i.e., from an Original Equipment Manufacturer, then your license belongs to your computer. In other words, if you bought a computer from say Dell, Compaq, etc., and a copy of Office came preinstalled with the computer, that license belongs to that computer, not to you. This means that you cannot transfer that software to any other computer. If that computer dies, so does your software license and the right to use that software. Kiss Office goodbye!
However, if your OEM computer came with say Office 2003 preinstalled and you want to get Office 2007, your best bet is to purchase the full version of Office 2007 and not the cheaper upgrade version. If you purchase the upgrade version and install the upgrade over Office 2003, then Office 2007 now also belongs to the computer, because it took over the OEM license. If that computer dies, so does your version of Office 2007. But...if you purchase the full retail version of Office 2007, which is not the cheaper upgrade version, you can then legally install it separately into another directory and still use 2003, which came with the computer. This is because you paid for the individual, full license so you're not required to upgrade the old version.
Beth Melton likened this to cars. If you trade in your old car, the new one will be cheaper, but you can no longer drive the old one because it's no longer yours. However, if you purchase a second car without trading in the old car, the new car will cost more, but you'll have both available to drive.
What's even better is that, yes, you had to pay a little more for that version, but now you own the license, not your computer. So if that computer dies on you, you can get a new computer and still install that same Office 2007 version on it without breaking any OEM licensing.
Plus, OEM software is generally proprietary, meaning that it was custom designed for that computer brand. This also means that if you were to ignore the license and try to install it on another computer, chances are that you'll experience technical problems, since that software wasn't built for that type of computer.
Upgrade versus Full Version
Even if your current version is not OEM software, the main scenario of the equation is still the same...the license for an upgrade may be cheaper, but it states that once you use say the Office 2003 license in order to qualify to install that cheaper version of Office 2007, you lose the license to operate 2003, because 2007 has now taken over your Office license. This means that if you bought the cheaper upgrade version, you're not allowed to even try to run both versions, because doing so is against the upgrade licensing. It's illegal.
The same scenario is apparently true if you convert from say the Standard version of Office to maybe the Professional. To do so at an upgrade price, you must have a previous version and once you use that version to qualify/install the better version as an upgrade, you lose the rights to operate the previous version.
So although it can be technically possible to run multiple versions on one system, whether you may do that or not depends on the type of license you have. If you want to legally run two versions, you'll need to buy the fully licensed version of the new software, not the upgrade version.
Oh, and if you're running MSDN, that's an entirely different license and you can apparently install whatever versions of whatever software you need (up to your license limit) for testing and development purposes (as well as one copy of Office for business/profit purposes). But again, read your license to clarify exactly what your limits are.
How to Install Multiple Versions
Alright, assuming you MAY legally install more than one version of Office...how CAN you do it successfully. Well, that's pretty easy for the most part. There are some caveats, as well as some options regarding how you can go about this, but generally all you need to do is pay attention to the installation screen and make sure that you install the new version into a separate directory.
Office wants to install itself into your ../program files/microsoft office path. I recommend that you don't let it. When you come to the installation dialog box that says it will install it into that path, choose to change the path and enter something different. On my main system, I have folders for c:\Office2000, c:\Office2002, c:\Office2003 and c:\Office2007. Each version is installed into its own directory.
Note! In order to access the ability to change the path, you need to choose the Custom Installation versus the typical or standard (whatever the wording is now) installation for Office. In fact, I personally always recommend that you go the custom install route. Some programs call it the Advanced installation, which is misleading. It just means you have the option of verifying all the installed features and paths...so take that route in order to have more control over how the programs are installed!
But the second part of the installation trick is that you pay attention to the screen asking you whether you want to remove the previous applications (or upgrade the previous version...wording may differ from version to version). When you hit that screen, use caution, read it and follow the instructions carefully. If you don't want any of the previous applications removed, make sure you check or uncheck them as needed.
However, the one application you won't be able to control is Outlook, since you are only allowed to run one version. So, if you want to play it safe and keep the version you have, choose not to install the new version of Outlook. If you want the new version, install it and the old version of Outlook will be uninstalled and all your mail settings will be migrated into the new version.
Now, all that said, installing into separate directories has pretty much been the standard way to handle multiple version installs. However, during the proofing of this article, I asked Office MVP Beth Melton to review it to ensure accuracy and she had some comments to make regarding the need to use separate folders for the installation of 2007. So here are Beth's comments. I personally feel it's easier to just use the separate folders. But you may prefer to follow Beth's take on this...
"I'm not 100% certain you have to install to another folder (I'm 99% certain
you don't). The Office installation creates version specific folders now,
for example Office 2007 is installed in the Office12 folder, Office 2003 was
installed in an Office11 folder, etc. And if you choose to keep your previous
version then this request is honored. If I'm not mistaken, everything
runs smoother if you leave the install folder "as is". There's mention of
this in the KB article."
Furthermore, I must admit that upon checking, I see that I do now have both an Office 11 and Office 12 folder under my Office2003 (the last separate folder I created before the 2007 install) folder. I can't remember for sure whether I was asked for a new path, but now that I think about it, I don't believe I had that opportunity when installing 2007. I do know I told it not to remove the old versions. So it appears that Beth's comments are correct for the 2007 installation. However, I'm also confident that this was not the case with previous versions, hence the separate folders for those prior installs.
The bottom line appears to be that previously, you needed a separate directory, but 2007 seems to be smarter and it knows not to overwrite your program files when you tell it not to remove the previous version...even if it all goes into the same path as the last Office install.
Confusing? Yes, there is that potential. So, if you are planning to have multiple versions on your system, I do suggest that you read this KB article so you'll understand Microsoft's recommended best practices and get some details about how the programs work. Then be sure to pay attention to what you're doing should you choose to do a multiple install.
Information about using 2007 Office suites and programs on a computer that is running another version of Office
Also note that, although Microsoft, and I, do suggest that you install versions in order of oldest to newest...I have successfully installed older versions while having newer versions on my systems. No, it's not recommended that you do it this way, but the KB article suggests installing the newer versions again if you have to reinstall an older version. I can tell you that I have reinstalled older versions without reinstalling all the later versions again and I have not experienced any problems (that I ever noticed). And this fact stands even with 2007, which I installed first on my laptop, while later installing 2003 on that same system. All's been working fine for months.
Fixing the Multiple Office Lag
Now for details about one of the best, time saving tricks I've learned in many years!
I'm starting to appreciate Office 2007 more as I use it more often. But just in case someone shows up in my inbox with a quick project they need done, I don't know if I'll trust myself to do it yet in Word 2007. And when it comes to development solutions, the jury is still out about how much of what I do now is successfully duplicated in 2007. So 2003 is still my main production version of Office.
However, when you have to switch back and forth between versions of any Microsoft Office application, there's a lag time as the new version goes through its song and dance to readjust itself into the front of the line in your registry. Depending on the version, this can take from 30 seconds with 2003 up to the unacceptable 60+ seconds for various 2007 apps to get their act together! Oh the horror!
I was getting so frustrated when I had to switch back to 2007 on my production system that I was on the verge of just removing it and using remote desktop to tunnel into my laptop when I needed Word 2007. Yes, accessing a remote desktop was much faster than twiddling my thumbs as Word 2007 reset itself after using 2003.
But I recently learned about a wonderful, and amazingly simple registry fix that will allow you to switch between versions in about the time it takes you to click its icon!
Granted, this is a registry edit, so I must add the warning that messing up the registry can seriously trash your computer. Take precautions and don't do this if you have no idea what you are doing! Either back up all your registry settings or set a roll-back point in Windows before you go into your registry. That said, if you're careful, this is a pretty easy fix.
Now, unfortunately, this fix only works with Microsoft Word. If I find a fix for other apps, particularly Access, which I've discovered is nearly worse than Word to reconfigure between versions, I'll let you know. For now, I can only remove your Word lag pain.
Also know that, before you do this you'll not only want to make sure that Word is closed, but also read this entire article so you know about a few caveats that may change your mind about using this option.
But wait...this is important! Before you close up shop and start working on this reg fix, open the version of Word that you will want to be your default. In other words, say you have two versions of Word on your system. You want to use 2007, but you want 2003 to be the version that opens by default when you click on a DOC file. Open Word 2003 before you insert the fix below. This will ensure that Word 2003 is the last version opened and it will, if necessary, reset the registry to that version. (More on getting around this default in the next section.)
Now make sure Word is closed and open the Registry. To open the registry, click Start > Run (or hit Windows + R) and type REGEDIT into the Run dialog box and hit Enter. Note that if this doesn't do anything, you're using a system where the administrator has taken away your ability to edit the registry so you don't mess it up!
Once within the registry, click the + (plus sign) to expand the HKEY_CURRENT_USER folder.
Scroll down and locate the Software folder and expand that one. We have a long journey ahead, so hang in there!
Once within the Software folder, scroll down that branch of the folder tree until you find the folder for Microsoft. Click the + to expand that one.
Now scroll down to locate the Office folder.
There you'll see the numbered versions of the Office versions you have. 2007 is version 12, 2003 is version 11, 2002 is version 10 and so on down the scale.
This fix can be used for all recent versions. Or at least, I know it works as far back as 2000. I can't confirm anything earlier. But if you're still using a version older than 2000, speed is obviously not an issue for you!<grin> Expand the folder for the version you want to speed up. (Note, this speed up fix will only help you if you are running multiple versions. So if you only have one version of Office on your system...don't bother with this setting, as it won't do anything for you.)
Move to the Word folder and expand that. Almost there!
Okay, locate the Options folder and select that one. This is the folder where you'll be adding a new registry key.
With the Options folder selected in the route we took above, click Edit > New > DWORD Value, as shown below.
This will insert a new registry key into the Options folder. It will be highlighted in edit mode so you can go right ahead and start typing the name of this key.
Carefully type the following as the name, exactly as shown: NoRereg Hit the Enter key after typing the name to have the name accepted.
Now double click this new key to open it. The dialog box below will display. The Value data will read 0 (zero) by default. Change that setting to the number 1 and click OK to accept that value.
Then close the registry. You did it!
So what is it that you've done? Well, you went into the Word registry settings for the version of Word you selected and you set a new registry key. The key is an option that stops Word from reregistering itself if another version is the current default. The value of 1 means Yes. So the NoRereg (no reregistering) is set to Yes...i.e., don't do it! This will cause Word to ignore the default version and just open, without taking several minutes to go through the reregistering hassle.
How did I know what registry key you could set to do this? That's a trick in itself. When programmers create software, they often add options, but for one reason or another (usually because the company decides they don't want to support the option) not all these registry changes are documented, or finding info on them is something done only by those who really want to hunt and whine for a fix. Although this fix has apparently been around since at least version 2000, because it works for that version, it's been pretty much undocumented until the recent MVP summit when and MVP complained about the lag time and a wonderfully helpful Microsoft staffer hunted down and dug up this information and shared it with us.
Herb Tyson, author of the Word 2007 Bible, got the information and added it to his Word 2007 blog: http://word2007bible.blogspot.com/2007/03/word-2007-and-word-2003-can-co.html. Then he emailed me to make sure I knew about this fix, since he knew I've been whining about the lag time with 2007 switches.
I swiped that info from his blog for this article. (Thanks Herb! And Beth! And Mr. Wonderful Softie!) [Yes, I'm protecting his identity so he can continue his covert work on our behalf.<smile>]
Okay, so now you can open Word 2007 and it'll just pop open with no worries about whether it's at the front of the line or not. You'll want to go through the other versions of Word on your system and add a similar NoRereg option key into the Word > Options folder for each of those versions, too. Then you can open any version of Word and it'll open instantly (assuming you don't have add-ins or other junk that might cause different delays). But at least you will no longer have to wait for that Reconfiguring screen to go away before you get on with your work.
However, you have done something else. You've stopped each version of Word from resetting itself as the new default version. So what if you have a file that you want to click and have it open in say 2003, but you have 2007 set as your default. Yes, this can be a problem.
If you want to open say a 2003 doc in 2003, you can first open Word 2003, then use the File > Open dialog box to retrieve the file, rather than attempting to open the file by clicking it right from Windows Explorer, because doing so would cause it to open in the default version...Word 2007, assuming that is your current default.
Another workaround is to add shortcuts for each version of Word into your SendTo folder, as shown below. Then you can just right click any file and you'll find the option of choosing the program you want to open the file.
Granted, you can also use the OpenWith option, but I find using the SendTo trick generally faster.
One last item you need to keep in mind is that the underlying document structure for 2007 has changed. That's why they are now called .docx, because they use the newer XML format for their architecture. This means that older versions of Word won't recognize them unless you install a special compatibility pack for previous versions or save out the .docx as a .doc file.
However, you should receive an error message if you attempt to open a .docx file in a previous program that only recognizes .doc formats. The error should tell you that the .docx file was created in a newer version and then offer to download the compatibility pack. See this KB for details on that scenario: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/919026/. (Thanks, again, Beth...for this link.)
Now you can have one version, such as 2007, as your default when you choose to create a new Word document. This will force you to work with the new software more often, hence you'll learn it faster. But if you need to work with a previous version, you can either open that version directly or use SendTo to pass the needed file to the needed version...all without twiddling your thumbs waiting as each version resets.
For more information on using the SendTo folder for shortcuts, see Greg's article on this subject: http://www.computorcompanion.com/LPMArticle.asp?ID=94
Should you realize that your default choice is not the best for your workflow, you can go back and reset which one becomes the default. To do this, go to the NoRereg key for the version you want to become the new default and change the value to 0 (zero). Then go open that version. It'll do its thing to reset itself as the default.
Now if only I knew about this trick many years ago...I would have saved hours of wait time over these many years of using multiple versions!