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.
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?
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:
- Use Office Online in a browser.
- Install Microsoft Office using PlayOnLinux.
- 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. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook can all be accessed via your browser and Microsoft account.
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.
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
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 "http://deb.playonlinux.com/public.gpg" -O- | sudo apt-key add –
Follow this by adding PPA information to the package manager:
sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_precise.list -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.
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 www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/office, 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.
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. 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, 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.
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, as this cannot be installed on Linux. (This is because the software automatically defaults to Office 2016. 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!