How to Install and Use Microsoft Office on Linux (And Its Shortcomings)
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Microsoft Office is, without a doubt, the most widely used office productivity suite in the world. It doesn’t matter if your PC runs Windows or Mac, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re using Microsoft Office. If you’re not, you have a colleague who is.

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But your PC runs Linux. How on earth are you going to install Microsoft Office, and use it without running into problems?

You have a couple of easy options, which we’ll look at in turn.

Hold On, What About LibreOffice?

It’s a fair point: couldn’t you just use LibreOffice or any of the many office alternatives for Linux Is OpenOffice Shutting Down? 4 Great Free Office Suite Alternatives Is OpenOffice Shutting Down? 4 Great Free Office Suite Alternatives OpenOffice is no longer a free Microsoft Office alternative you can count on. We have compiled the four best options for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Read More ?

Well, yes you could. But compatibility with Microsoft Word documents — particularly Excel files with macros — is far below expectations. While open source alternatives are good for most office productivity tasks on Linux, installing Microsoft Office on Linux overcomes document compatibility problems.

As mentioned, you have two “easy” options. One is a full installation, but first, let’s take a look at something even simpler.

How to Install Microsoft Office on Linux

You have three easy options for installing Microsoft’s industry-defining office suite on a Linux computer:

  1. Use Office Online in a browser.
  2. Install Microsoft Office using PlayOnLinux.
  3. Use Microsoft Office in a Windows virtual machine.

Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each in turn.

Option 1: Use Your Browser

It might not be the full Microsoft Office, but what is made available via your browser is certainly good enough for a big chunk of office-based tasks. It’s an easy way to get started without paying for Microsoft’s full suite 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying for It 6 Ways You Can Use Microsoft Office Without Paying for It Do you need Microsoft Office but don't like the price tag? Here are some ways you can use Microsoft Office for free! Read More . Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook can all be accessed via your browser and Microsoft account.

muo linux msoffice browser

Meanwhile, if your copy of Microsoft Office is via monthly subscription to Office 365, then you’ll also have access to the browser based tools. This is an easy option that delivers some good productivity benefits (you may find you prefer it to other online tools, such as Google Docs or Sheets), but there is that glaring downside.

Rather than dial up each time you want to use these tools, meanwhile, you can add custom shortcuts to the Chrome browser.

As useful as it is, this isn’t the full Microsoft Office. It’s just a browser-based alternative with a stripped-back collection of features. Though it’s useful in a pinch, it doesn’t do everything you expect.

So, just what is the easiest way to install and use Microsoft Office on Linux?

Option 2: Yes, You Can With PlayOnLinux

You can install Microsoft Office using Wine and PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux Read More PlayOnLinux PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux Read More . The following instructions are for Ubuntu, but you’ll be able to customize this for distros that use different package managers.

Begin by opening a terminal window and entering:

sudo apt-get install wine

Next, add a public key for the PlayOnLinux software that runs alongside Wine.

wget -q "" -O- | sudo apt-key add –

Follow this by adding PPA information to the package manager:

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list

Next, update, and install playonlinux.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install playonlinux

(If you want full fat “easy”, you can install Wine and PlayOnLinux via the software center.)

All you need to do now is launch PlayOnLinux from Menu > Applications. Here, click on the Office tab, then select the appropriate Microsoft Office option.

muo linux msoffice playonlinux

However, with PlayOnLinux, you’re limited to Microsoft Office 2013 as the latest version (the 32-bit version, at best). For the best, most stable results, use Microsoft Office 2010. For this, you’ll need the disc (or ISO file) and a genuine key. You’ll find the official download at, where you’ll need to enter the product key before you can download the suite.

Install Microsoft Office on PlayOnLinux

So, PlayOnLinux is ready. You have the right version of Microsoft Office. All that is needed now is to install Microsoft Office.

muo linux msoffice running

PlayOnLinux will prompt you to select a DVD-ROM or a setup file. Choose the appropriate option, then Next. If you’re using a setup file, you’ll need to browse to this. Clicking Next will proceed with the installation, and once this is done you’ll be ready to use Microsoft Office 2010 Microsoft Office 2010: Ultimate Tips & Tricks Microsoft Office 2010: Ultimate Tips & Tricks Office 2010 includes many improvements over Office 2007. As with all Office releases, however, these improvements are far from obvious to the average user. Read More . This will run from the desktop without separately loading PlayOnLinux (although that will be running in the background).

If for some reason PlayOnLinux doesn’t work for you, you might also consider CrossOver. This is a paid tool with a free trial, and is capable of running Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013. Installation of CrossOver is more straightforward than PlayOnLinux, while installation of Office is along similar lines (there is a developmental connection between the two tools.

And yes, having Windows software running effortlessly on your Linux PC really is amazing, isn’t it? You’ll find that PlayOnLinux is capable of supporting a number of other applications, as well as many Windows games. It all makes for a seamless transition for any switchers looking to put Microsoft’s operating system behind them The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers From Windows and Mac The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers From Windows and Mac Linux has an intimidating image, making it seem like it would be difficult to start using it. But the switch from Windows and Mac is actually pretty easy, if you can ease yourself into it. Read More , but who are anxious about losing access to their favorite games, utilities and applications.

Option 3: Install Office in a Windows VM

There is another option for anyone wishing to install Microsoft Office on their Linux computer. This isn’t as easy as the others, however, unless you’re already running a Windows virtual machine How to Set Up a Windows Virtual Machine in Linux How to Set Up a Windows Virtual Machine in Linux Many home users prefer to run a dual-boot setup when both Windows and Linux are needed, but if you'd rather run Windows inside Linux, here's how to set that up. Read More .

muo linux msoffice windows 7

In this case, all you need to do is boot your virtual machine, sign into Windows, and install Microsoft Office. This will prove particularly useful if you have an Office 365 subscription Upgrade to Office 2016 for Free Today with Your Office 365 Subscription Upgrade to Office 2016 for Free Today with Your Office 365 Subscription Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows has landed and it brings many smart new features. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you can get it now for free and we show you how below. Read More , as this cannot be installed on Linux. (This is because the software automatically defaults to Office 2016 10 New Microsoft Office 2016 Features to Increase Productivity 10 New Microsoft Office 2016 Features to Increase Productivity Microsoft Office 2016 receives new features all the time. They are available first to Office Insiders and Office 365 subscribers. We show you the best new Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook features and how to... Read More . At the time of writing Office 2016 is not compatible with PlayOnLinux/Wine or CrossOver).

How does this work for you? Are you desperate to run Microsoft Office on Linux, or are you making do with the open source options that are built into your chosen distro?

Did PlayOnLinux work out, or have you opted for a virtual machine? Or are the browser tools more suited to your needs? Tell us in the comments!

Explore more about: Microsoft Office Online, Microsoft Office Tips.

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  1. Daragh
    September 28, 2017 at 1:39 am

    Sooooo... the question then is: what's the best version of Windows to run in a VM, for Office 2016/365. It officially supports Win7SP1, but is Win8.1/10 better?..

    I need to be able to run PowerBI.


  2. Ganesh
    December 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Hey Cawley, OBS Studio released for linux version

    • Christian Cawley
      December 2, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Hey Ganesh, thanks for letting me know.