Can I install multiple versions of PowerPoint / Office?
Will it work to install several different versions of Office?
It depends on what you expect out of it. Microsoft doesn't support it. It may not even be permitted under your license agreement.
Here's Microsoft's take on this:
OFF2000: Running Multiple Versions of Microsoft Office (Q218861)
That said, there are quite a few of us who need to work with multiple versions of Office. Obviously, the most reliable way to do this is to install to multiple computers, but that's not always possible. If not, consider installing a product like Virtual PC or VMWare and installing different versions of Office into different "virtual machines". See Using Virtual PC / VMWare virtual computers for more about virtual machines.
If virtual machines aren't possible, Dian Chapman has a good overview for multiple Office installs here.
And here's a summary of what we've learned about using multiple versions of Office on one computer. Most of this talks about Office, but really it's specific to PowerPoint. If you have specific concerns about other Office apps, visit the MVPs.org page to find a site that's more specific to the app you're interested in.
Is it safe to try this?
Should you even try to install multiple versions? Not if ...
- you need to share files with others who use older Office versions, even if you only use the same version they have to create the files. See below for explanation.
- you develop software and need to test under various versions
- you need a highly stable Office installation and don't have the patience to twiddle and reinstall things frequently
But I gotta!
If you found yourself in one of those boats but you still need to run multiple Office versions, try one of the following:
- Install multiple copies of Windows into different partitions. Utility software like Partition Magic makes this relatively painless and allows you to boot from the partition you want, leaving the others hidden.
- If you use Windows NT4, 2000 or (possibly?) XP, you can install Windows multiple times, each copy in its own folder. You get a menu at bootup where you can choose the version you want to start. You can install different versions of Office into each Windows installation.
- Programs like VMWare or Virtual PC from Microsoft (too new to have a link yet!) let you set up multiple "virtual machines" on one computer. It's a bit more work to get set up than the previous solutions, but far more flexible in the long run.
I'm brave. I'm not mission critical. I like risks. I have no choice. (Pick one)
No worries. Probably.
It's generally safe to install multiple versions, as long as you follow the rules:
- ALWAYS install them in order, starting with the OLDEST version.
- Always choose a CUSTOM install. Typical installs will usually delete earlier versions of Office apps. Be VERY persistent in telling the installer NOT to update/upgrade/improve/whatever your earlier programs or they'll get removed.
- Install each Office version into its own individual folder.
- After installing each version of Office, install any service packs or other updates you plan to use. Don't go back and install them after you've installed later versions of Office.
It's dark in here. What just went "bump"?
One other suggestion: Expect the Unexpected. Murphy never sleeps. Things can still go wrong. Here are the ones we know about:
All versions of Office from 97 onward use the same common set of graphics filters for all the apps. Fine.
All versions of Office from 97 onward store the graphics filters in the same folder. Not Fine.
Really, really dumb, in fact. This means that when you install a later version, your older graphics filters get overwritten.
- Your graphics filters get updated whether you like it or not.
- You can no longer test graphics imports in older versions, since you're using the newer filters - your tests aren't meaningful.
- Newer filters may not work correctly in older versions. EPS graphics may no longer print, for example.
Applets (MSGraph, Equation Editor, etc.)
The installer will automatically update some of the "applets" (Equation Editor, MSGraph, etc.) Only one version of each is allowed. While all the versions of Office will usually work with the one applet version installed (the newest), not everyone you might share your file with will be able to open/edit your embedded object if they're using an older version of Office.
If you do any VBA programming that involves controlling or referencing other OLE server or client apps (Excel, Word, etc.), you should test your final code on computers that don't have multiple versions of Office installed. What works on your computer (with Excel 8, 9 and 10) may not work on my computer (with just Excel 8).
Icons on Start menu
The most recently installed version will start when you click the icon in Start, Programs. If you want easy access to the earlier versions:
- Locate the EXE file for that version. It'll usually be in \Program Files\(folder name you chose for install)\Office\
- Rightclick the EXE icon and drag it to the desktop. Choose "Create shortcut here" when you release it.
- Or Rightclick and drag the EXE onto Start, hold while the Start menu opens, drag onto the Programs item, hold while it opens, then continue to drag the EXE to wherever you want the shortcut.
Generally, the last version you install of any Office app will "own" that app's file types. For example, the most recently installed version of PowerPoint will launch when you doubleclick a PPT file.
This also means that some automation solutions will always launch the most recent version of any Office app. As a rule, that's ok, but if you're developing code, you should be aware that you might be inadvertently controlling PowerPoint 2002, for example. That's fine, until your code needs to run with PowerPoint 2000 and errors out because you were accessing features that only 2002 supports.
Finally, some Office apps may register themselves at startup. In other words instead of the most recently installed version owning file associations, the most recently run version will. We hope to have a list of these versions. In the meanwhile, it's simple enough to test for yourself.
- Doubleclick a file created by the program in question. Note which version launches.
- Manually start a different version of the program.
- Finally, doubleclick the same file as you did originally. Does the same version of the program open or does the one you manually started up? If the latter, then that version of the program self-registers.
Re-registering takes time. If the program re-registers itself each time it starts up, you'll have to wait longer for it to start each time you use it after having used another version previously.
You may only have one version of Outlook installed. If you don't want to update to the most recent version, elect not to include Outlook in your custom install.
Updates/Service Packs, Detect and Repair, Uninstalling
You're pretty much on your own here. Who knows what Detect & Repair in Office 2000 will make of files installed by Office 2002 and beyond? Will the Service Pack installer for PowerPoint 97 be able to cope when it finds itself crawling among files that are 8 years younger than it's expecting?
My advice would be:
- If you can't afford to be without the system for any length of time, skip the service packs, other than those you install at the same time as you originally install Office.
- If you can live without the system for a while, go ahead and try installing/detecting/repairing/whatevering. Maybe it'll work.
- If it doesn't work, you can try uninstalling just the version with problems, but it'll probably make a mess. Instead, uninstall ALL versions, then reinstall, following the rules at the top of this page. You may also want to download and run the appropriate "cleaners" for each version to get rid of excess baggage in your registry.