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August 12, 2012 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I inherited my desktop Mac from my girlfriend last year when she got a new one. We now live together and have our computers on the same network, and now MS Office complains that I don't have a license for this computer. Do I have any options other than buying a whole new MS Office license/package?

Every time I open MS Office on this computer, it gives me a pop-up claiming I have too many copies of MS Office for the license. It blocks me from using the files. I can email the files, sort them, delete them, etc., but I can't open and read or change them.

My research thus far has explained that MS Office licenses allow for a license to be shared between a desktop and a laptop, but not two desktops. (Don't ask me how MSO knows the difference.) Naturally, I have a ton of personal files on my MS Office programs.

A couple of friends have told me I should just switch to Open Office, but I I don't know that's a good idea, since that seems to hamstring a lot of options for sharing files (i.e., sending people Word or Excel files, which I do often). I have no personal loyalty to Office; it's just what I'm used to using and what most of the world seems used to as well.

The problem is that MS Office is painfully expensive... are there smart options for this?
posted by scaryblackdeath to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
 
If you're a post secondary student, you can get a huge discount at Here

I'd say go with OpenOffice. It's capable of opening and saving in docx, dox, xlsx and whatever
other formats MS Office uses. I've found that it will occasionally mess up some formatting but if that's not a major issue, it will serve you well. And if they don't actually need to edit the file you can make a pdf of it through a built in feature
posted by electriic at 2:24 PM on August 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


So it turns out there's a short-term solution: We can only have an Office document open on ONE computer at a time. So annoying, but workable for now.

Long-term solution suggestions are still welcome!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2012


A couple of friends have told me I should just switch to Open Office, but I I don't know that's a good idea, since that seems to hamstring a lot of options for sharing files (i.e., sending people Word or Excel files, which I do often). I have no personal loyalty to Office; it's just what I'm used to using and what most of the world seems used to as well.

Open Office lets you save in .doc and .xls (and other Microsofty) formats. There might be some formatting issues, but it's never been a problem at all for me.
posted by billybunny at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2012


What kind of prices are you seeing that you consider "painfully expensive"? In other words, what would be you upper limit for a new Mac version? There are discounters out there that sell just licenses at a far lower rate than retail or normal online sources. It is all very legal you will be a registered user with Microsoft. In fact you have to finish the registration with MS.

On the other hand, Open Office and Libre Office have made huge strides in the past couple of years and area very good option. I don't use it, but it is free, so it would be worth giving a try

Open Office | La suite libre y gratuita para la oficina
posted by lampshade at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2012


Are you sure you're looking at the correct version of MS Office? While not cheap, at $119 for one license for home and student, MS Office isn't what I'd call painfully expensive, especially compared to software that genuinely is (ie, adobe CS).

IIRC, based on previous postings, you're a writer. I've found MS Word indispensable because editorial changes from agents and publishers often come in as comments or as tracked changes on word docs. OpenOffice sometimes, but not always, doesn't play nicely with MS Word comments/changes. It's the industry standard, and probably worth sticking with for that reason alone.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:28 PM on August 12, 2012


Easier solution: unplug your ethernet/turn off the wifi for one computer when you both want to work.
posted by acidic at 2:28 PM on August 12, 2012


For what it is worth.......

Libre Office (spanish)

Not sure if it is a true Spanish version or whether the page is just in Spanish.
posted by lampshade at 2:31 PM on August 12, 2012


Legally, the license you have only allows one copy to be running at the same time. I believe you might be mistaken about the desktop/laptop thing. One seat is: one seat, one user, one license.

If you don't want to use alternative packages (I'd look into Apple iWork, rather than OO), ordered by decreasing legality:

- Buy an upgrade edition of MS Office, which will be cheaper than the standalone version, and continuing using the old version on the other machine. (Verify this is possible before you buy.)

- Have someone buy a student/educator version for you.

- Remove one of the computers from the local network when you're working concurrently.

- [a bunch of easy, but completely non-legal options]
posted by danny the boy at 2:31 PM on August 12, 2012


editorial changes from agents and publishers often come in as comments or as tracked changes on word docs

Seconding this as a real issue. While not a writer, I do hang out in freelancer forums and there is a steady stream of sorrow about track changes from writers with regards to Word and Open Office. So it is a pretty big deal if you make your living as a writer.
posted by lampshade at 2:33 PM on August 12, 2012


I think the desktop/laptop dichotomy is based on the assumption that only one will be in use at a time.

When you start Office OSX on one machine, it starts broadcasting its presence (and the license it's using) on the local Ethernet/WiFi segment. It also listens for any other copy broadcasting that it's using the same license, and refuses to run, if so.

OS X has a built-in system firewall which can block incoming network traffic to particular applications. This is relevant.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 2:35 PM on August 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Firewall
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:06 PM on August 12, 2012


Mac Office (Home and Student) is about $100 for a version that allows 3 users.
There's also a one user version that's like $90.

Office used to cost hundreds of dollars a few years back, so this seems cheap to me.

If the version your girlfriend bought was the $100 one, it came with 3 serial numbers, so check the packaging for the two unused numbers.
posted by w0mbat at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2012


Do you work for a big company or a government? MS often offers cheap office licenses for employees. Ask your IT person if that's an option for you. I got basic office 2010 for ten bucks.
posted by Wretch729 at 5:43 PM on August 12, 2012


Little Snitch will prevent apps from talking on the network, or phoning home. Permission to access the network can be set on an app-by-app basis.

It's also a useful way to stop any malware you might possibly acquire from doing its thing. There was a malware recently that wouldn't even install if Little Snitch was detected. It's a great little app.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:57 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went and checked and the program I referenced above is called the Microsoft Home Use Program.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:01 PM on August 12, 2012


Have you tried Kingsoft Office? Most people who tried it couldn't tell the difference between it and Microsoft Office.
posted by Thisispiggy at 8:27 PM on August 12, 2012


You want to use LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org - LibreOffice has all the development these days.
posted by devnull at 4:54 AM on August 13, 2012


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