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Despite the existence of powerful alternatives to Microsoft Office 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office 9 of the Best Free & Low-Cost Alternatives to Microsoft Office Microsoft Office has dominated the market of text documents, spreadsheets and slide shows for years, and for good reason – it’s one of the very best. However, there’s one drawback and that is the price.... Read More , it remains the premiere Office suite and beloved by many people. With the Office 2016 upgrade A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes A Microsoft Office 2016 Preview: Smart & Subtle Changes Office 2016 for Mac was just released and the Windows version will follow in the fall. We show you the new look and features of the world's most popular productivity suite. Will you upgrade? Read More  in progress, many are looking for the latest and greatest, but perhaps you’re instead longing for the past?

Office 2003 was the last edition to lack the now-standard Ribbon interface How To Tweak The Windows And Office Ribbon Menu How To Tweak The Windows And Office Ribbon Menu That pesky Ribbon Menu. Ever since its introduction in Office 2007, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with it. I much preferred the Office 2000/2003 method of “hiding” tools that you don’t use often... Read More , which is a primary reason many miss it. Read on to see how you can make Office 2003 yours again, twelve years later.

Is Office 2003 Still a Good Option?

You’ve got options for acquiring good ol’ Office 2003, but let’s briefly review the pros and cons first. While Office ’03 might be a more familiar interface for you, include fewer “fluff” features you don’t need, and/or run on your aging computer 7 Warning Signs It's Time to Replace your Old PC 7 Warning Signs It's Time to Replace your Old PC When should you buy a new computer? Read More , it’s no longer supported.

Legacy programs don’t receive security updates How & Why You Need To Install That Security Patch How & Why You Need To Install That Security Patch Read More , don’t have the newest features, and might not work correctly with modern hardware. If you’re going to put out money for Office, it makes better sense to shell out for the latest version (or Office 365, where you’ll always get updates An Introduction to Office 365 -- Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? An Introduction to Office 365 -- Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? Office 365 is a subscription based package that offers access to the latest desktop Office suite, Office Online, cloud storage, and premium mobile apps. Does Office 365 provide enough value to be worth the money? Read More ) than an ancient version. Also, note that the oldest version that Windows 10 is officially compatible with is Office 2007; you’ll have to toy with Compatibility Mode How to Run Old Games & Software in Windows 8 How to Run Old Games & Software in Windows 8 One of Microsoft's big strengths -- and weaknesses -- is their focus on backwards compatibility. Most Windows applications will work just fine on Windows 8. This is especially true if they worked on Windows 7,... Read More to use 2003 so your results may vary.

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Weighed your options and still want to go with Office 2003? Here are your choices for legally acquiring a copy.

Amazon

Amazon is a great place to shop for anything online, especially with Prime’s added benefits 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now Scratch the surface. Amazon Prime has so many more benefits that people have forgotten about or simply don't realize exist. Read More . Not surprisingly, you can find Office 2003 through a few different routes on Amazon.

You’ll have to go with third-party sellers since Office 2003 is so old; the Professional Edition sells for about $50 in “Like New” used condition, while a brand new copy was about $95 at the time of writing. There were positive reviews from as recently as August 2015 on this product, so it seems legitimate. Another copy of the Standard Edition is available for $24-35, mostly for items categorized as Open Box.

The stripped-down Student and Teacher Edition, which includes Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint 2003, runs about $50 for a new copy. Reviews from August-September 2015 praise this listing, too, so it’s a good option if you only need the basics.

Note that while upgrade versions are available, they only work correctly if you have an older version of Office on your computer. Unless you have an ancient machine, it’s unlikely you’re using Office 97, so ensure you don’t buy one of these upgrades by mistake because it will not work.

This suggests another point worth repeating: let the buyer beware Buyer Beware: How Not To Fall For Fake & Dangerous Apps [iOS & Android] Buyer Beware: How Not To Fall For Fake & Dangerous Apps [iOS & Android] The popularity of Android and iOS has put a target on their virtual backs. These operating systems are a new frontier for those who use malware to achieve nefarious goals. Many users don’t take security... Read More , especially when shopping for software online. This list gives you multiple options for getting a good copy of Office, but in the end you need to ensure you aren’t buying a pirated copy or one without a genuine activation code.

eBay

If Amazon doesn’t have it, your next best step is eBay. The Buy It Now feature takes the hassle out of auctions, and many sellers use Fast ‘N Free shipping which is just a few days shy of Amazon Prime’s convenience 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now 6 Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Be Ignoring Right Now Scratch the surface. Amazon Prime has so many more benefits that people have forgotten about or simply don't realize exist. Read More . First-timers should read our newcomer’s guide to eBay First-Time Shopper On Ebay? 5 Important Things You Need To Know First-Time Shopper On Ebay? 5 Important Things You Need To Know Welcome to Ebay Shopping 101. You are the select few, chosen to be trained as sharp-shooting Ebay bidders, capable of finding the best deals and winning every auction. Read More before proceeding.

An eBay search for Office 2003 brings up plenty of options. The Basic Edition, which includes only Word, Excel, and Outlook, is $30; or $15 from a less-experienced seller if you don’t mind a slight risk. For $60, the Professional Edition nets you Word, Excel, Outlook, Access, PowerPoint, and Publisher.

Office-2003-eBay

The aforementioned Student and Teacher Edition is $10 from one seller or $15 from another.

Of course, I can’t link to all of your possibilities here, and the ones I’ve chosen could be gone by the time you read this. You just need to decide which edition is right for you, search to find the best balance between price and seller reputation, and place your order! Be sure to know common eBay scams 5 eBay Scams To Be Aware Of 5 eBay Scams To Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. You invest all of that time into selling a particular product or you spend a lot of time researching the perfect item, complete the transaction, and then… nothing. The... Read More and how to fight back against these crooks 8 Simple Things You Can Do to Fight EBay Scammers 8 Simple Things You Can Do to Fight EBay Scammers Despite high profile and embarrassing security breaches, eBay remains very popular, but it's a big target for fraudulent activity. So how do you reduce the risk of being a victim of online eBay scammers? Read More to keep yourself safe.

Try LibreOffice

Don’t want to spend money to get Office 2003 or can’t find a satisfactory copy online? Downloading a free alternative might be your best bet; you won’t be using the real Microsoft Office, but a similar interface might be close enough for you.

LibreOffice is the best MS Office alternative Is the New LibreOffice a Better Microsoft Office Alternative? Is the New LibreOffice a Better Microsoft Office Alternative? LibreOffice, a long-time contender of Microsoft Office, just received a makeover and important updates. After being held back by niggling bugs over the years, has LibreOffice finally found the winning formula? Read More you’ll find; install the current version (5.0) for free and see if you like it. If you don’t find it to emulate Office 2003 closely enough, downloading an older version 10 Websites To Download Older Versions Of Software 10 Websites To Download Older Versions Of Software Read More of the program may better fit your preferences. The oldest version FileHippo carries is 3.4 from July 2011; just remember that outdated software is no longer supported and likely has bugs and/or security issues.

Of course, you’re never without a multitude of options. If you don’t like LibreOffice at all, you can try the less-supported OpenOffice and see if that fits your idea of the perfect Office suite. Chris Hoffman has explained the differences between OpenOffice and LibreOffice, but he has also noted that OpenOffice is an increasingly stagnant project, so only use it if you have to, or if you really like it.

Make Office 2007 Look Like 2003

Your last option is kind of a weird compromise – acquire an older version of Office (2007) and follow our guide to make it look like 2003 How To Make Microsoft Office 2007 Look Like Office 2003 How To Make Microsoft Office 2007 Look Like Office 2003 Read More . If you don’t already have Office 2007 on your computer, this is a waste since it costs much more than Office 2003.

umenubit

The tool that Saikat covered, UBitMenu, is available for free and is stated to work with Office 2007, 2010, and 2013. It’s worth a shot to download the program and see if it makes your existing installation of Office 2010 or 2013 enough like 2003. If not, simply uninstall it How to Uninstall Programs on Windows 8 How to Uninstall Programs on Windows 8 Looking to get a particular program off your computer? Whether it's a desktop or a modern app, here's how to do that on Windows 8. Read More and try another option above.

Is Office 2003 Really Worth Using?

Hopefully, one of these options gave you the solution you were looking for. Don’t forget, however, that you can get the real MS Office for free Save on Microsoft Office! Get Cheap or Free Office Products Save on Microsoft Office! Get Cheap or Free Office Products Reluctant to spend a few hundred bucks on a glorified word processor? You can get Microsoft Office for cheap and alternatives for free. You've got many options and we offer a summary. Read More , or use it online without paying 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying For It 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying For It Read More . If all you need is Word, its free online version is even better Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Don't Pay For Word! 5 Reasons You Should Use Office Online Office Online is the free and cloud-connected version of Microsoft Office. Limitations are compensated by features, useful even to users of desktop Office. Best of all is its Read More than the desktop version. While Office 2003 might be comfortable for you, it’s over a decade old and should be replaced by modern tools as soon as possible.

Now that you’ve got the Office you need, check out some awesome training resources online Upgrade Your Skills with the Best Microsoft Office Courses Online Upgrade Your Skills with the Best Microsoft Office Courses Online Microsoft Office is a required skill across offices worldwide. How adept are you? Massive Open Online Courses offer everyone the training to get better at it anytime, anywhere. Read More , and discover things you never thought you could do with Office 8 Things You Can Do in Office That You Never Thought Of 8 Things You Can Do in Office That You Never Thought Of Microsoft Office turns the Pareto Principle on its head: 80% of its users only use 20% of the features. Time to rediscover Microsoft Office features you never considered. We have compiled eight insanely useful productivity... Read More .

Will you be using one of these solutions to go back to Office 2003? What makes you want to use Office 2003, even after all these years? Weigh in below to let us know what you think!

  1. matt
    December 22, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I spent 13 years developing a program in Office 2003 and it is very broken in Office 2010. Even with so called "Compatibility" mode. I have put a lot of effort into fixing it, and made some progress but there are still serious formatting and other issues with the Forms toolbar text boxes. Also the new toolbars and ribbon are not suitable. So I am going to use Office 2003 instead. Either simultaneously with later Office versions or in Virtual PC mode.

  2. Roger Oveur
    October 27, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    There's a website called OldVersion.com which has downloads of older versions of popular freeware (obviously Office isn't on there). But, their slogan offers some pretty sound advice AFAIC: "Newer is not always better."

    Personally, I liked Clippy. Windows updates are often buggy anyway. Who needs them if the program works fine? Eventually as the software grows older hackers won't bother exploiting the few people still wanting an abandonware version, because they tend to be more interested in a greater "payload" -- meaning larger population, more publicity. This is why Russian hackers won't bother going after some mom-and-pop indie bookstore's mailing list in Tumbleweed, Nebraska but will definitely aim for the millions and millions of Target RedCard subscribers' data that they can sell in bulk to data brokers. It's kind of hard to hack the computer system of a 1987 Aries K because it doesn't have one. But the sophisticated systems in today's modern vehicles (especially the ones in luxury cars) are prime for the taking.

    I believe this is called security through obscurity. Certainly the majority of people will upgrade just because they either have to or aren't "savvy" enough to seek out retro solutions. And who knows, in the end they may be the only ones left to fight Skynet, because they're the only ones who haven't been nuked by "the cloud"...

    • Ben Stegner
      October 28, 2015 at 12:46 am

      I understand some of your points, but I think it reaches a point on the other end, too.

      Sure, you don't have to update to Office 2016 just yet, because it's new or might have some issues. (Just look at everyone who bought Assassin's Creed Unity at launch, or any number of other botched software launches). However, if you're on Office 13 and stay on it until 2023, refusing to upgrade, it reaches a point where it's just time to move a bit ahead.

      The thing is, technology changes so fast that sometimes the old versions just aren't built for how we use the Web today. Look at Windows XP - it wasn't designed for the multiple connections and tons of programs we run all at once like we do now. And browser makers will stop supporting XP sooner or later, opening up tons of problems there.

      Security through obscurity is something Mac users have blindly trusted for years, and it's just not a good idea. I agree with you that Office 2003 isn't a likely target for malicious folk, but still, why use it when more modern versions are available? 2010, at least, would bring you closer to a modern program.

  3. Judah Richardson
    October 11, 2015 at 2:34 am

    This is really awful advice, especially from a security POV.

    • Ben Stegner
      October 28, 2015 at 12:42 am

      I couldn't believe it, but we found a good number of people that were interested in this topic. I would never run 2003 myself as it's ancient, but we wanted to show you how if you really wanted/needed to.

  4. Read and Share
    October 10, 2015 at 12:55 am

    I routinely back up my office files to the cloud. Office 2007 and later use AES encryption whereas Office 2003 uses RC4. Is RC4 still considered secure nowadays?

    Online versions are out because I do not wish to store my files in a form readable by Google or Microsoft (or anybody else). No thanks.

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