MS Word

Make the Most of the Word Product-Activation Grace Period

The Problem:

Every time I start Word, up pops the Activation Wizard, bugging me to activate Office. I don't want to activate it until I know whether I'm going to upgrade my computer or get a new one.

The Solution:

There's no fix for this one. If you want to use Word (or Office) beyond the trial period on a PC, you must activate it. Activation is intended to cut down on piracy by preventing you from installing Office on more than one computer at a time. (You can move Word from one PC to another and then reactivate it, which is useful when you get a new PC.)

You may disagree with the principle of having to activate software you've bought, but Office 2003's and Office XP's activation grace period is pretty generous; it lets you launch the Office programs up to 50 times altogether before forcing you to activate them. If you scrupulously avoid closing the programs, you can stretch those 50 uses to several months. Every now and then, one of the programs will crash or hang; that'll cost you a restart, as will the times when you have to restart Windows XP or Windows 2000.

Here are two more things you might want to know about activation:

  • You can't reset the pre-activation counter by reinstalling Office on the same computer. But if you use a different PC, or a different virtual machine, it works.

  • If product activation fails with a connection error, check that HTTP port 80 and HTTPS port 443 are open on your firewall. The easiest way to check is to open a browser and try to access and, one after the other. If either connection fails, your firewall is blocking that port and needs to be configured to allow traffic to pass. If you don't administer your firewall, consult the administrator.

If you set up your PC to dual-boot different versions of Windows, you can install the same copy of Office on each version of Windows without product- activation problems occurring.