6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for Free

Gavin Phillips Updated 26-11-2019

Microsoft Office licenses are the gold standard of office applications, but they cost a fortune. Microsoft Office 2019 Home & Business currently retails for $249 for a single PC license. If that makes your wallet weep, check out these methods to use Microsoft Office for free.


1. Use Microsoft Office Online

Microsoft itself offers a substantial collection of free Microsoft Office utilities. Office Online is essentially a browser-based version of the latest Microsoft Office suite.

It currently includes:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • Sway
  • Mail
  • People
  • Calendar
  • OneDrive

There is a catch, however: The online versions of Microsoft Office apps only provide a limited Microsoft Office experience.

Word Online, for example, does not include text boxes, WordArt, equations, charts, and more. You can still write a term paper, but you won’t be able to compile a company report. Similarly, you’ll be able to open and view your Excel spreadsheet, but your custom macros won’t load.


This is a banner image of Microsoft Office online

While Office Online does lack some functionality, it is a versatile free alternative to a fully paid license. The free versions will happily open your files, allow editing, and importantly, keep your document formatting in place at all times.

If you only need a full-fledged text editor, here’s how to get Microsoft Word for free Yes, Get Microsoft Word for Free: Here's How Don't want to pay for the full Microsoft Word experience? Here are some ways on how you can use Microsoft Word for free. Read More . But don’t miss out on the other ways to get Microsoft Office for free!

2. Microsoft Office Mobile Apps

Office Mobile is exactly as it sounds: Microsoft Office, in mobile form. It is an extremely similar experience to Office Online. The functionality is there, and editing and creating documents on the go is easy—but it is extremely screen size dependent.


For instance, editing a Word document on my Samsung Galaxy S8 is reasonable, but attempting to navigate an Excel spreadsheet is fiddly and frustrating. Conversely, editing a Word or Excel document on a larger, tablet-sized screen is actually quite enjoyable.

I’m still not convinced you’ll be running your company accounts from Office Mobile, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch.


Microsoft offers individual mobile apps for Android 4.4 (KitKat) and onwards. For a long time, Microsoft offered users of Android 4.3 or lower the older Microsoft Office Mobile app. However, this all-in-one Office app is no longer available.


Android users post-4.4 should download the newer, individual apps:


Microsoft phased out the iOS Microsoft Office Mobile app long before the Android version. Like Android, there is no legacy version of the app. Note: iPad Pro users need a qualifying Office 365 subscription to create and edit documents.

I’m not going to list the individual apps like I have done for Android as there are differences between iPad and iPhone versions. But you can find the Microsoft Corporation App Store page here, and that contains the individual download links. Like Android, Microsoft is actively developing its iOS apps 6 New Microsoft Office Features on iOS to Know About If you use Microsoft Office on iOS, here are some newer features you may have missed. Read More , bringing new Office features and updates to Apple’s mobile operating system.

3. Sign Up for the Office 365 Trial

microsoft office try office 365 trial


Office 2019 introduced numerous changes across the suite Microsoft Office 2019 Is Coming: Everything You Need to Know The standalone version of Microsoft Office 2019 will be exclusive to Windows 10. When will it come out and how much will it cost? Here's everything we know. Read More . If you haven’t already signed up to Office 2019 elsewhere, you can give it a try before emptying your pockets. As such, you can take a free one-month Office 365 trial.

The trial will grant you access to the full Microsoft Office 2019 suite. Also, you get 1TB OneDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype credits per month. Of course, there is a “catch.” You must provide a valid credit, debit, or PayPal account during the sign-up process. Microsoft will automatically charge your account once your trial expires.

4. How About the Office 365 ProPlus Trial?

Once your 30-day Microsoft Office 365 trial comes to an end, you’ll either be sold or ready to try something different. Alternatively, why not try another trial? This time using the Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus trial.

You get another 30 days to test Microsoft Office 2019, and access to the same range of Microsoft Office programs as before.

5. Buy Hardware With Office Bundled

Microsoft Office rarely comes bundled with a new desktop or laptop. Unless it is a specific introductory deal, you’ll be purchasing Microsoft Office as an add-on. And if you’re building your own PC, well, you’re straight out of luck.

That said, these types of deals aren’t impossible — you just have to strike while the iron is hot. Unfortunately, that means you need a circumstantial trifecta: new hardware with a bundle deal, the money to take advantage of said deal, and the need to actually upgrade your hardware.

One option is the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook series. The majority of these laptops come with a Microsoft Office 365 Personal 1-Year Subscription. While this is handy, you’ll have to keep up the subscription to continue accessing Microsoft Office.

Acer Aspire One 14" Cloudbook AO1-431-C8G8 Laptop PC with Intel Celeron N3050, 2GB Memory, 32GB eMMC, Windows 10 and Office 365 Personal Mineral Gray Acer Aspire One 14" Cloudbook AO1-431-C8G8 Laptop PC with Intel Celeron N3050, 2GB Memory, 32GB eMMC, Windows 10 and Office 365 Personal Mineral Gray Buy Now On Amazon $199.99

Similarly, there are some Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 Laptops that come with a full Microsoft Office 2016 installation, without a subscription.

6. Ask Your Employer or School

microsoft office education and student options

Everything we’ve covered so far allows you to grab Microsoft Office for free, but also comes with limitations: availability, functionality, hardware. This penultimate option, however, offers some of you a very good chance of acquiring a full version of Microsoft Office 2019 or Microsoft Office 365 completely free.

First, you’ll have to check in with your employer, or if you’re a student, your school. Many companies and schools can offer either a free or extremely low-cost Microsoft Office license for one reason: the people working or studying there need it. Businesses will have to pay, but bulk licenses may mean your employer can provide a free or cheap option.

Furthermore, Microsoft has long supported schools with free Office 365 Education packages. It might be that you simply have to ask directly.

The Best Things in Life Are Free

Grabbing a full version of Microsoft Office for free isn’t possible for everyone. But you’ve got some excellent options, nonetheless. The combination of free Office 365 and Office 365 ProPlus trials grants you 60 days of Microsoft Office.

After that, the choice is yours. You might decide to opt for a free alternative like LibreOffice or OpenOffice LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice: Which One Should You Use? Want a Microsoft Office alternative but confused about LibreOffice or OpenOffice? Here are the differences between the two. Read More instead. And if you want some free alternatives to Microsoft Access The 5 Best Free Microsoft Access Alternatives for Databases Free database software isn't all bad. This article covers five of the best free and easy to use alternatives to Microsoft Access. Read More , check out our list.

Related topics: Buying Tips, Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Office Alternative, Microsoft Office Online, Microsoft Office Tips, Subscriptions.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Bakker
    December 21, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    What a complete BS and waste of time this article.

  2. Babs
    September 3, 2019 at 10:13 am

    i know it costs a little more but there is a monthly subscription fee option and its ten dollars and some change with tax. I did that for a little while but now pay the yearly subscription one time fee with my excess pell grant deposit. I am well aware that i can use a free student account but its limited. for one its tied to school email and will lose access to your account once done with school. i use mine for alot more than school and want it tied to my outlook personal acount. plus i can share with my family this way. i was a google girl for a long tme. office is so much better in my opinion and worth the subscription fee. sometimes the best things in life arent free

  3. Thomas Kainz
    February 27, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    I could see the desire to be able to use a program, for free, that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars for one PC not to mention maybe close to a thousand for a family. But, really, all this effort to avoid having to subscribe for a paltry $6.99 a month? really? Or, for $3 more, the ability to have it on not only your PC but your spouse's , and your children' s PC's (up to 6 users). That's what - a couple cups of coffee at the local shop?

  4. Gurudev
    November 23, 2018 at 5:43 am

    In none of the cases ms office is free forever.the trial versions are for short periods only.Wrong caption

  5. Brian Hiles
    November 22, 2018 at 1:56 am

    None of the methods you mention are technically free; workarounds and available plans is what you are talking about and should have been calling them -- but I certainly do not hold this against you; however, there is one way to download a free, legal copy of genuine Microsoft Word -- but there is a reason few will. (Sorry, this is just Word -- this solution predates most of the other components of Office Suite).

    I informally checked, and the decade-and-a-half old links I recorded then are still live, mostly. Microsoft freely makes available version 5.5 of Word. One downloads and installs this _DOS_ application, and then downloads and applies a free patch, available elsewhere, to update this to version 6.0, which itself is a standalone _Windows_ application, which conforms to the modern DOC format.

    I did this years ago, and it worked perfectly. One had really want to go through the considerable and arcane hassle of dealing with DLLs, device drivers, and ad hoc installation frontends, as was de rigeur of the era, but I can attest that it does work, and produces the first version of MS Word for Windows with all the usual and expected niceties of styles, tables, etal. For me (and I suspect 75 percent of all people), I did not want (and use) the advanced features of modern Word, but creating documents in this version, even nowadays, is sufficient to do the preponderance of basic editing and textual styles, that it is produces a document that is compatible with modern day Word versions, which can be then be used to "spruce up" that document, if desired (and available somewhere!).

    To see where to start, read:

    Read the text at the end of the document, concerning MS Word and not Word Perfect.

    When this solution was made available, there were no MS Word work-alike apps, except that one edited with WordPad, say, to produce an RTF document, which virtually all versions of MS Word could import. So, in a practical sense, (all?) the other options you propose are preferable; however, it remains a "blast from the past" to see what was and still is possible, then as now.

  6. Col. Panek
    November 16, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    As you wrote, "The Best Things in Life Are Free ". Therefore: LibreOffice!

    Besides, Microsoft Office is hard to run on Linux, you have to use it with Wine...

  7. Zoran
    November 16, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Sooo... No answer to the question: "How to Use Microsoft Office For FREE"?
    Or, maybe, answer is: "You can't"?

  8. EZ
    November 15, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    I hate to be that guy, but "penultimate" does not mean what you (apparently) think it means.

    • Gavin Phillips
      November 16, 2018 at 1:49 pm

      D'oh! I switched the numbers of the options around when rewriting some of the information. Thanks for the catch!

  9. Muhammad Tahir Ashrafi
    October 11, 2018 at 10:57 am

    If you go with Office 365 work or school then what about your data? Admins have the Full Access to your data. They can edit and delete your data. Please tell me if you can help me in this regard. Thanks

  10. Kattz
    September 4, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    If you buy a piece of hardware that includes Office 365 Personal for a year, you can choose 8 months of the Home subscription instead. These can be stacked as well. My grocery store was selling cheap tablets with keyboard cases and Office Personal subscriptions for $40. I picked up several and converted the subscriptions to Home from personal. I gave all but one tablet away to friend's grandchildren. This also eliminated many Monday morning phone calls asking me to come and "fix whatever the kids did to my computer over the weekend " :)

    I haven't read all of the comments so this may have been mentioned already.

  11. EK
    May 23, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    I have hard time to think a thing that I can't do with LiberOffice or any of the earlier release of MS-Office. And I am a very advanced user of Office. The only reason I upgrade MS-Office is because my employer pays for it. Even then, I used to have OpenOffice until MS-Office included the export to PDF feature, which OpenOffice have had since time I don't remember.

    The only two selling point for MS-Office is hype (like this article) and in corporate world - shared calendar - if your email server is Exchange.

  12. Judy
    January 26, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    NTUC learning hub courses are using Microsoft office,I needed it for my pretice.
    My Acer computer which I bought from NTUC and so get my office free. I have
    installed it in Acer computer.
    Happen that I have three computers, can I signin in my old computer to use my office to do my work. Will this action deactivate the my office in Acer computer.
    All my mean is that can I use my microsoft office account to signin to either one of my computer to do my work.

  13. Trevor Smith
    December 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I use Open Office which I find very good but the data base just isn't up to the standard of Access.


    • EK
      May 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      Yeah, for some reason LiberOffice developers didn't care much for database development. May be they didn't see it as a productivity application.

      Access and Outlook are the killer applications in Office - though in the more recent releases, Office has been loosing more and more of its features.

  14. George
    October 5, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Kick Microsoft Office to the curb and score a free copy of LibreOffice, a community-driven and developed software, and is a project of the not-for-profit organization. Learn more here: [Broken URL Removed]

  15. Wignyo Pranatha
    August 9, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Why do you have you stick with Microsoft Office? Is there any features that you can only find in it? Any features that you depend on? Or do you use ALL MS Office features?
    There are MANY ways to do with free office suite:
    1) use Softmaker FreeOffice, the most MS Office compatible office software
    2) use WPS Office, a very good office suite, yet it 's still actively developed
    3) use LibreOffice
    4) use OpenOffice
    5) use OxygenOffice
    In many cases, those office suite can handle all of your needs.

  16. nik
    August 8, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    The question here is : Do I need to buy a product or pay a monthly rent in order to get Office products ?
    If I stop paying the rent, I don't have no Office product and nor a tiny 50GB Cloud ? (By the way, there are Ton's off free 50GB Cloud available !!).

    Trial options are worthless. Once done you have no product ever.

    The answer is very simple: BUY YOUR OFFICE, PRO OR PRO PLUS VERSION. (even older as 2013).
    if you buy it, it MIGHT BE or SEEMS more expensive, but it is YOUR LIFE product.
    When you buy it, you will find some excellent offers around the globe for 100 or 200 usd (OR LESS) for a Professional or Professional Plus product.
    200 USD for a 5-year or 10-year product seems very cheap. (40 usd or 20 usd per year) or for 100 usd (20 or 10 usd/y)

    For android FREE office product and PDF = OfficeSuite + PDF Editor from MobySystems.
    Never Office from MS because to heavy on resources.
    In conclusion, if you don't have the money try the google documents or the OpenOffice Documents.

  17. Vinay
    February 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    thanks for great advice. keep up the good work.

  18. John
    August 20, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Great ways to use Documents, Spreadsheets, & Presentations for free:

    1: Preloaded Office: PC/Laptop/Tablet
    2: Borrowed Office: School/work/library/friend's PC
    3: Linux Office: Install Linux Mint, Xubuntu, or Ubuntu
    4: Free Office: Download Open Office or Libre Office
    5: Online Office: Use Google Docs
    6: Online Office: Use MS Docs
    7: Old Office: Use old version that doesn't require subscription


    1: People with Publisher can use it as a PrintShop alternative
    2: Abiword is a great free word processor

  19. knowledgepowerit
    February 27, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Office remains an overpriced necessity for anybody involved with business or school. While there are some free alternatives, I prefer the actual program. I was able to buy office 2010 for my entire office for a pretty darn good price at and might I add I actually own the licenses instead of borrowing peemission to use office for a year or whatever. Paid around $50 per license

    • EK
      May 23, 2018 at 10:04 pm

      It is your attitude that gets on your own way. There is no such thing as "actual program." What is it that you can do with Office 2010 that you can't do with OpenOffice or LiberOffice? But there is at least one thing that you can do with OpenOffice that you can't with MS-Office 2010. Convert your documents to PDF.

      I use both products - OpenOffice at home and MS-Office at work. I have used all the advanced features - mail merge, programing, charting, solver, pivot tables, WordArt, etc. in Office so I know what I am talking about.

      You could have saved your $50 per license and may be donate $50 for the LiberOffice developers for the entire installation. That would have saved you a lot of money and not feel like you are a sucker. YOU HAVE PAID FOR YOUR SOFTWARE.

  20. gavin galen
    February 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Dude ,if you could not active by the activator ,here i want to share one easy way , you could search "ms key offer office" by Yahoo to get the official retail key.

  21. Raja Mukherjee
    January 20, 2015 at 7:57 am

    I took the trial version of office 365 on behalf of a company but they are not very convinced. So i dont think that they will buy it for me. In the mean time I did not have any office version in my laptop but the trial version still opens and works.

    Sir, do you think i can use the word, excel and power point for long? I shall be much benefited if the answer is in the affirmative as I am not buying office 365 business, as the company wont buy it for me.

  22. Kareem Shahbandar
    January 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    You can get something called Kingsoft. It is a free version of microsoft office with many new features. You could probably find it on google; plus, they have the same filetypes so u don't have to worry about that.

  23. Kaysee
    August 30, 2014 at 12:50 am

    OpenOffice has been working for me for the last five years or so........

    • Byron
      July 28, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Have you had good luck with Open Office and using windows 10? I have not!

  24. John
    June 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Microsoft also has free document viewers that LibreOffice does not read correctly.

  25. Ron MVP
    June 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Good list, and good comments

    Susan B: Office 365 Home Premium is something you may want to consider. It allows you to install on up to 5 computers at the same time "in your home", explicitly meaning your teenagers. It costs US$100 EVERY year. But if you have 4 or 5 computers in the house it can be a good deal.

    If you have an Office 365 license, it includes "free" Office Mobile installations. NOTE: although the license says you are limited to 1 / 2 / 5 (depending on your specific 365 license) MS currently does NOT actually count how many mobile devices you have it active on. So you can install it on many more than the official limit, up into a low 2 digits count!

    Personally I'd split point #6 into 2 separate points, but that is just me. The employer program is known as the HUP, the "Home Use Program".

    There is also a "Military" equivalent to the HUP available in the US and Canada (I know for sure) and probably other countries too. It is available to members of the military and some police type forces.

    At educational institutions the program you alluded to is called "Student Advantage:
    [Broken Link Removed]

    [Broken Link Removed]

    The software giant on Tuesday announced a new program called Student Advantage, whereby students worldwide can sign up for subscriptions to Office 365 ProPlus through their institutions at no cost to themselves.
    The only stipulation is that the schools must have already licensed either Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for their entire workforces, including faculty and staff.

    So talk to your Help desk to find out if this applies to your school

    Get Office 365 ProPlus for students at no extra cost when you purchase Office for faculty and staff

    When you license Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus institution-wide for all your faculty/staff, your students get access to Office 365 ProPlus at no extra cost. Starts Dec. 1, 2013.

    My institution is already paying for students to use Office 365 ProPlus. When can we move to offering it to students at no additional cost?
    Your institution can order and deploy Office 365 ProPlus to students starting December 1, 2013, provided that it meets all the conditions required for this Enrollment for Education Solutions, Open Value Subscription-Education Solutions, or school contract benefit. At the anniversary or renewal date for your contract, please contact your Volume Licensing reseller to address additional questions related to the software provided to students.

    What happens when a student graduates?
    When students graduate, their Office 365 subscription through the institution ends. They can enroll in other consumer or commercial offers.


    Beginning Dec. 1, any academic institution that licenses Office for staff and faculty can provide Office 365 ProPlus for students at no additional cost. Student Advantage makes it easy for qualifying institutions to provide students with the latest version of full Office at school and at home. Combined with Office 365 for Education plan A2, which is free for schools, Student Advantage gives students access to the same set of world-class productivity tools and services used by Fortune 500 companies all over the world.



    Starting on December 1st, Universities that license Office Education for their faculty and staff can offer students Office 365 ProPlus for free thanks to a new program called Student Advantage.

    There is also the discounted "Office 365 University" which costs US$80 for up to 4 years, while you are registered at a post secondary school. Note: the license terms say it expires when you graduate and that MS checks your enrollment status annually on the date you activated it. But I have not seen confirmation that graduates have had it cancelled.

    Note: you also have the option of renewing one time only (for another US$80) if you are a slow learner.

    Note: Office 365 University has a 3 month free trial period which can be extended to 6 months

    Office 365 University: Six-Month Free Trial Now Available
    Get a 3 month extension on the initial 3 month trial by posting on Facebook.

    Office 365 University 3 month trial

    Other than Office 365 University, all of other Office 2013/365 trials are limited to 30 days. One of the comments said that the trial is feature limited. That is not correct as far as I know. If they can show examples of features that are limited I would appreciate learning specifically which ones they had problems with.

    ALSO, for all of the free trials there is an Official MS "Trial Extender" tool, that they don't talk about, but it is a real, legal, MS tool.

    Office 2013 Pro Plus 180 trial activation tool

    [Broken Link Removed]

    This page uses an “official” published MS technique to give you a 180 day trial. They simply automate it for you.

    How to Extend Your Office 2013/365 Trial to 180 Days

    Before uninstalling your trial, take a look at this link:
    [Broken Link Removed]

    Office Trial Extender V1.0.0.6

    [Broken Link Removed]

    • Mike
      August 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Two points here.
      1) Office 365 University: It seems that the ability to extend the University version is no longer available. At least, it was not available when I went to extend mine in March of 2017.
      2) Microsoft DOES have a means to tell how many copies you have installed. You are allowed two installations of Office 365 University, one for a desktop and one for a "tablet" (originally it was for a laptop but now the EULA it reads "tablet".) I ran into a problem with my desktop installation and had to reinstall Office. When I did I was prompted to "activate" my copy of Office, when I did I received a message that I already had the maximum allowed installations. I had to go online to "deactivate" one of the installations. (Go to and log in with your account username and password for information related to your Microsoft account.) I ran into a similar situation when I tried to install Office 365 University on a second notebook i.e., I was prompted to deactivated an installation in order activate the copy I was installing.

  26. Chinmoy Mitra
    June 14, 2014 at 11:24 am

    No doubt this is how you can "use" MS Office free of cost for "some" time, but they are not "free versions". It does not make any sense to install a software for the sole purpose of using it for a free trial period, and then happily uninstall it and forget about it! This article is more like a promotion for the trial versions for Microsoft products. If finally you have to buy the product, what's the great idea in a trial version? Out of the six suggestions, only the web apps are truly free applications, but highly handicapped and restricted in features. So frankly speaking, we can not use Microsoft Office without paying Bill Gates his due share of dollars!

  27. Tina Montgomery
    June 5, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    You can go to your local library. Most libraries now have a computer area and will have MS Office loaded on them for their patrons to use. You can do your work and then save to a disk or flash drive. All you need is a library card which you can get for free.

  28. AJ Warren
    June 4, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    The "Ask your Employer" is great tip... also ask your spouse's employer.

    My wife didn't know anything about it although I remember her bringing a paper home a few years ago but had a current Office lic. at the time. She couldn't be bothered to ask her IT or HR. I looked online here:

    You can click the link "Don't know your program code." type in your/her work email... it looks at the domain and if the company is enrolled you get an email link with the code in it. Just get them to forward it to you and you can install it on your home machine easily after that. For us it was $11 for all 9 Office Pro. apps.

    I've tried every vesion of open office and PowerPoint presentations just don't come through correctly the layout always needs adjsuting. A basic Word/Excel file seems to be okay with open office.

  29. Susan B
    June 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I'm sharing this with my teenagers. I bought them each a laptop but didn't want to spend the extra $ for Microsoft Office. The online version will give them something to work with. Thanks for sharing this info.

  30. Fredrik Nyman
    June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

    For home use, you can just go to to see if your employer participates, and if so, pay $10 for a home use license.

  31. Eli
    June 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

    I have a nexus 10 tablet and Nexus 5 smartphone.
    I tried to find Office Mobile in Google play - no luck. I looked for this application in my Win 7 based PC (running Chrome). I founf Microsoft Office mobile, BUT also "this app is incompatible with all of your devices.
    Any solution ?

  32. David Hicks
    June 4, 2014 at 4:19 am

    Of course this article (which, by the way, thank you for it) attracted all the "such and such is just as good" quips, as is to be expected, even though the author started with "Sure, Office alternatives exist ...", thus acknowledging that fact from the get-go. Those other two top alternatives have been my staunchly reliable allies and go-to suites for more than a decade. And the current versions of their word processors do indeed render .doc and .docx formats extremely well.

    Anyway, I just want to add that the reason I hate the MS Office trials is that they are incredibly huge resource hogs, not at all worth the 30-day or 60-day period for the Sasquatch footprint they put on your machine--even for a couple of days and even with today's tremendous-capacity drives and memory. But these options might indeed come in handy for the unenlightened.

  33. Michael Muldoon
    June 4, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Here we go. MS lost most everyone I work with when they changed from a recognized interface to the blankity ribbon where all your commands are there somewhere but good luck finding them. Open Office was ok until out went to Apache. Libre Office works great and is fully compatible with anything I've ruin across. Plus it works on multiple platforms. So when you move to any Linux distro because MS thinks everyone has a touch screen tablet and wouldn't miss a real desktop what changes on your office suite? Nothing!! Because the FREE Libre Office is cross platform. I'll stop here because of I start in on everything wrong with Outlook I'll prickly get lynched. Haven't used it in years. Thunderbird rules email. Ok all of you that disagree with me. I'm done so open fire!!!

  34. Uko
    June 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Say goodbye to Microsoft.

    Say "Hello!" to Thinkfree.

    30 day trial download, then £40 (or US$67) and it's yours - no repeat annual fee.

    I believe its written in Java which some people say makes it better, and all the usual Microsoft keyboard shortcuts work.

    Their web-based offering has more functionality than the somewhat crippled online Microsoft Office.

    Dare I say it, but the Thinkfree web-based version is so good, I didn't go for their excellent download.

    [Broken Link Removed]

    I am sure you will be impressed.

  35. Dennis
    June 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    My employer allows us to buy Office for $10. That way we can get used it at home and spend less time learning new software at work.

  36. John
    June 3, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    What about people that want to use Outlook as their email program is there a free way round that?

    • Ron MVP
      June 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      Other than the ways mentioned in the article there is no 'free' way of getting the Outlook program.

      You can sign up for, which was originally called, but that is not the same as the Outlook program.

  37. Col. Panek
    June 3, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I run Linux Mint in an engineering office/lab full of guys running Windows. We collaborate on spreadsheets, presentations and documents, and I edit photos, schematic diagrams, videos, and promotional material. Naturally, I use the office suite that came with Mint (which is Not To Be Named, because this article is about Microsoft). If I have to check to see whether my document conforms to "the standard (Microsoft)", I load it into Office 365. Better yet, I save it as a PDF. I can open and edit PDFs in that Unnamed Office Suite.

    If you want true compatibility, convert everyone in your office/home/school to That Other Office Suite, and use the true open document format. It also opens your old docs - usually better than MSOffice does.

  38. AJ Warren
    June 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    The "Ask your Employer" is great tip... also ask your spouse's employer.

    My wife didn't know anything about it although I remember her bringing a paper home a few years ago but had a current Office lic. at the time. She couldn't be bothered to ask her IT or HR. I looked online here:

    You can click the link "Don't know your program code." type in your/her work email... it looks at the domain and if the company is enrolled you get an email link with the code in it. Just get them to forward it to you and you can install it on your home machine easily after that. For us it was $11 for all 9 Office Pro. apps.

    I've tried every vesion of open office and PowerPoint presentations just don't come through correctly the layout always needs adjsuting. A basic Word/Excel file seems to be okay with open office.

  39. Bikar
    June 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Employees of several companies are eligible for Microsoft home use program - where they can get the office for $10.

    • Danny
      January 17, 2015 at 1:03 am

      Again, to use the HUP program, you have to pay an annual HUP licensing fee (Actual annual HUP unit cost) = $540.78, and then you can purchse the MS program for $9.99.

  40. dbosley
    June 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Had to switch to Linux when I could not upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1. Loaded Libre Office and never looked back. I can do anything I need to with a file and still get it into MS format to share.

  41. lmcelhiney
    June 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Libre Office is fine. The OpenOffice versions are very good as well. I have Apache OpenOffice installed on a new Windows 8 machine at home and find it very comparable to the MS Office 2010 suite that I use for work. Key thing is always to remember to save your document in an MS Office format (rather than the native or proprietary format) and you should have great interchangeability with other folks. Personally, I have a trust issue with cloud-based apps--they offer a lot, but when/if you are "off the grid" you can be dead in the water.

  42. Michael
    June 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Libre Office.
    Das ist perfect !

  43. John W
    June 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    In my experience (750 students plus 250 staff) most word processor users use less than 10 percent of the "features" on the software. The MS Office "suite" is a mountain of code most people will never use. 60 percent of my users still hate the ribbon with deep loathing.

    If someone sends you a .DOCX tell them to resend it in a format that is universally readable, like a .pdf. Better still, tell them they have a virus on their PC called "MS Word"

    Over the years MS Office, much like Windows itself, has become monumental bloatware with many added widgets that no-one wants or needs. MS would have you believe that you can write a novel, a newspaper or a film script on Word - but nobody with any sense does that, they use specialist software designed for the job.

    Take a look at the code size of Word compared to any other standalone free word processor. Better still, put a page of text in to both programs - the Word file will be much bigger than the Open Office or other free version.

    Next time you send out a .DOCX, check out all the metadata sent with it - date stamped, time stamped, who was logged in, when you last changed your printer ink, which hand you use on the mouse ......

    • LilB
      August 3, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      What software do people use for novel writing that publishers will accept as compatible and that sites like Smashwords will be able to convert to their publishing requirements. I would appreciate any links or knowledge you would care to share.

  44. themobmob
    June 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    There is no such thing as a free trial, you are just locking up your data, and Microsoft still own the key. Matt, I noted your response to Geo, so I will not mention LibreOffice. I will however suggest OpenOffice, now that it is supported by Apache and out of the hand of evil!

  45. JesMan
    June 3, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Some Corporations have whats called a Hardware Upgrade Program aka HUP, that allows their employees to purchase MS Office 2013 Pro for $9.99. Yes you read correctly! the PRO version for $9.99. In particular, some cell phone carrier employees can enter their email and it allows them to purchase it from Microsoft. Now thats close to being free!

  46. George
    June 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I have been using the Kingsoft Free office suite 2013 and have found it to be very 'MSlike'. It reads and writes in ms formats.

  47. Rick Stanley
    June 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    For the majority of users who do not have to share documents with other users, LibraOffice will more than fill their needs! Too many people transmit .doc or .xls files, and their newer versions instead of producing a .PDF file, which is only what the recipient usually needs. LibraOffice will produce the PDF with a one button click. That feature is a standard part of the application. The MS Office rendering in both directions is getting better with each new version. Since it is free in every sense of the word, there is no reason NOT to try it!

  48. Scott M
    June 3, 2014 at 3:30 am

    MS Office Starter is available for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. It is limited in features, similar to Office Online, and only includes MS Word Starter and MS Excel Starter. It's available from different sources, but the version at Snapfiles worked for me.

    If someone only needs a viewer, Microsoft offers Word Viewer, Excel Viewer, PowerPoint Viewer, and Visio Viewer for free.

    The 60 day trial for MS Office 2010 is also available from the TechNet Evaluation Center.

    • Ron MVP
      June 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Officially Office 2010 Starter is a "factory only" aka "OEM" only installation. They pay a trivial license fee for you to use it. It is NOT free for general use. MS takes links like that one down when they learn of them. So you may have to google for other similar links ...

  49. Javed
    June 3, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Just use Google docs!

  50. DieSse
    June 2, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Oh for goodness sake, just use LibreOffice and be done with it.

  51. Jack S
    June 2, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    It would be better if you offered and seventh method - a license for the points on the MUO rewards.

    • Matt S
      June 3, 2014 at 2:24 am

      Hmm...that could be doable. Microsoft probably wouldn't partner with us, but we could offer it as a limited time Reward. Thanks for the idea!

  52. Maryon Jeane
    June 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Some netbooks also come with a free and basic version of Office (for example the Asus Eee PC) and these you can work on, with or without peripherals such as an external keyboard and monitor. It's certainly enough to enable me to take my netbook and work outside during the Summer, away from my home office!

  53. Abhishek R
    June 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    OR just buy windows phone, OR Use torrents

  54. likefunbutnot
    June 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    If you're willing to drop back to Office 2007, it's entirely possible to find installation media + license for under $50. Most users will see almost no functional difference in the core Office applications for using an older version.

    • Imad.sawal
      June 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      You are right , but MS Office Online is much better than the 2007 version ( yeah , maybe the same ) . But the interface of the latest versions compared with the 2007 version do have a drastic change . Otherwise you hit the hammer on the head . ( The versions are inter-compatible , features almost same ; The only difference is that latest MS are more user-friendly but that's most of the game ) .

      I think the author didn't mentioned it because he focused on "without paying" options.

    • Ron MVP
      June 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      take another look. There is NO WAY Office 2013 "Online" is better than 2007. Office Online is EXTREMELY feature limited, compare the ribbon in Online and 2007. One of the major missing features online is macro support!

  55. Geo
    June 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    This makes sense? Fooling around with trial versions can lead to lots of fun if you enjoy troubleshooting. Trial versions are limited, why not try "Libre" or an equivalent and have a full working version? The small formatting problems that may exist, most users will never see.

    • Ryashini K
      June 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      How long trial versions last is inversely proportional to your morals on software piracy.

    • Gordonbp
      June 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      The only way trial versions are "crippled" is in the fact that they are time-limited. Otherwise they are as fully functional as the paid-for versions...

    • Matt S
      June 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Well, the simple answer is that this isn't an article about LibreOffice ;)

      And also, as I mention a few times, some people (in fact, I'd wager the majority of consumers who buy Office) just need accurate handling of .doc/.docx, but not the fancy features. In which case the free options suffice.

    • likefunbutnot
      June 3, 2014 at 3:34 am


      Actually, there are plenty of places in the current trial (binary, not web) releases available from Microsoft where users get messages that indicate that some or other feature is only available in a paid version of the software.

      The OEM-provided trial versions made available with the purchase of many new PCs don't have that problem, but it's still a trial version that ceases to work after some period of time.

    • neil wood
      June 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      For professional developers who need to provide programmed functionality between office applications such as generating emails in MS ACCESS to MS OUTLOOK through the VBA programming language and library functions there is nothing to touch MS OFFICE.
      For the occasional user free KINGSOFT Office is an excellent alternative.