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How to get a preloaded Microsoft Office version to work

This week, our expert answers the question of what to do when a preloaded Microsoft Office version stops working on a computer.

If I have a preloaded Microsoft Office version on my computer and it stops working, what can I do?

First, check the materials that were supplied with your system and see whether your copy of Microsoft Office was included on a separate OEM installation disc. Sometimes, even when what's installed on a system is a preloaded Microsoft Office version, the installation media is also provided this way. If that's the case, you can remove Office, reinstall it using the OEM disc and reactivate it.

Another possibility is that a restore CD for the entire system was included that might contain the version of Office that was preloaded onto your computer. In that case, you could be required to restore the entire system image to retrieve a fresh copy of Office. Obviously, you'll need to back up any data on the system before you attempt this.

A third possibility is that there is a restore "partition" -- a separate, hidden section of the main drive where the manufacturer has stored an image that can be used to restore the system (and possibly Microsoft Office as well). How to access this partition -- and whether it exists -- are both entirely up to the manufacturer, so you may want to place a call to them and have the model number of your PC ready.

If you're really stuck, you could always purchase a used copy of the same edition of Office you have and install that, or you could download a Microsoft Office trial of a recent version and purchase that. Note that if you get a used copy, you should make sure it's legitimate.

Yet another option is to substitute another program for Office, one that can read and write Office documents, such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice. Both of those are free, which at least lets you try them out without spending any money. Note, however, that they could have some compatibility issues with certain Office documents, so if you use them, make sure you're working on copies of your files, not the originals.

This was first published in October 2012

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