A common question I get is “do I have to buy a copy of MS Office for every computer I own?” I’m very cautious with my answer to this because Microsoft doesn’t like my answer. But the short and sweet is… NO.
In my business of engineering, there are several packages I use that are very expensive, so this question becomes much more relevant. The standard practice is you can install a legal copy of one license on more than one machine as long as only one copy is being used at a time. This can apply to your copy of Office also.
The tricky part is that pesky Activation. When you submit your activation online, it’s a nerve wracking experience if you know you’ve already activated it on another machine. Well, you can relax. Microsoft isn’t going to call the police on you and they aren’t going to shut down your computer. In most cases, if you’ve already installed and activated a copy on one computer, then wait a few weeks, a second activation usually goes through fine. The whole purpose of activation is to make sure you don’t install it LOTS of times.
How about a free alternative?
But before you start to sweat out that activation button, why not consider some free alternatives. If you’re a fan of Office and insist on sticking to it, consider trying out the latest Beta copy. It’s free to download and you stay clear on any legal worries. The draw backs include a limited lifetime (I think its about 6 months) and the possibility of getting frustrated with all the new features and some that are buggy. You can sign up at Microsoft Connect.
A better way to go is consider using the Open Source alternative from Sun, OpenOffice. It can work with all your Office files and for the most part looks just like all the Office applications. You’ll only start to have problems if you are a power user. Some of the more advanced stuff (macros) aren’t the same and you might run into a hickup. You can learn more and download your free copy from http://open.office-pro.org