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Is Office 2003 compatible with Windows Vista?


I have Windows Vista now and I cannot open Word documents attached to
emails. How can I open them? Is Microsoft Office 2003 compatible with

Yes, Microsoft Office 2003 is compatible with Windows Vista.

You didn’t say what happens when you try to open a document or what error
message is produced, so I’ll have to make some wild guesses.

Most of the confusion that I see is actually not about Windows
Vista, but rather the file format changes between Office 2003 and Office 2007.
The newer version now saves into a file format that can’t be read by the old.
However there are solutions.

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Here are some of the most common things that might be going wrong:

You don’t have Office installed. Some people are surprised
to find that Windows Vista doesn’t include Microsoft Office. They are two
separate products, and if you don’t have Office then you’ll need to purchase and
install it separately.

Your Upgrade to Windows Vista was really a fresh install.
If you have Windows XP with Microsoft Office installed, an upgrade to
Windows Vista should leave you with Office still installed in Vista. However,
if instead you performed an install of Vista instead of an upgrade,
then Windows Vista has been installed “from scratch” and you’ll need to
re-install all of your programs, including Microsoft Office.

“… Office 2003 and Windows Vista can certainly
peacefully co-exist …”

You’ve received a document in Office 2007 format, but you only have
Office 2003.
This will fail, unless you install
the Office Compatibility Pack
. This free download adds support for the
newer file formats to the older versions of Office. After installing, you’ll be
able to open these files without completely upgrading to the newer version of
Office. (You can also ask the sender of the document to save the document in
the older format and resend the document instead.)

The “.doc” file association has somehow been lost. There
are two approaches: reinstalling Office should actually fix this for all the
file types it supports, or you can
repair the file association manually

It’s only email that’s broken. One workaround if it’s only
documents in email that are causing you a problem is instead of opening the
document directly from email, save it to a location on your hard drive instead.
Then fire up Word and use File, Open… to
locate and open the document, or locate the document in Windows Explorer and
double click on it.

The bottom line, though, is that Office 2003 and Windows Vista can certainly
peacefully co-exist just as Office 2007 can run on Windows XP. Neither
requires an update to the other.

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34 comments on “Is Office 2003 compatible with Windows Vista?”

  1. Your article on Office 2007 was great but it scares me.I had downloaded the trial version but anything I forwares using Word was unreadable by aany of the recipents so Microsoft said it was because it was the trial version so I “bit the bullet” and paid for the real thing though I am still using the trial. I know most of my friends(who never download things) will not even try to download a compatability pack so I see lots of problems ahead.Guess I should have stuck with the old version even if it meant difficulties with any power point attachments.

  2. My 2003 installed but it always ask me to agree to the terms each time. When the 2007 trial was up I uninstalled it and now it ‘sets up 2003 every time I use it. It works but I have to wait 5 minutes to use it. I have repaired and reinstalled to no avail. Hope someone has better luck than me.

  3. Office 2003 works fine for me.
    Vista Ultimate
    The only thing, though, when I had office 2007 on there, I opened all my documents with it and now once it’s uninstalled (too flashy and slow) and installed 2003, I can’t choose winword.exe 2003 version to open my documents by default. It wont let me, sadly. Looking for a solution now.

  4. I have just bought a laptop with Vista business on it. I have Office2003 running successfully on my other XP machine. When I loaded it onto the Vista machine, the following problems occur –
    1. I use a program called ShareO to share my calendar, contacts etc between the machines. This will not operate successfully on the Vista machine (I am in the middle of discussions with their support about this.)
    2. I also notice small glitches in Office in other areas. If I try to change the default opening page in Outlook say from Calendar to Inbox, the changes are not saved & it reverts to the calendar.
    3. When right clicking on Contacts & opening Properties, the message comes up that the Inbox assistant is not available.
    4. I cannot use the import feature in Outlook to import a pst file.

    I have the latest upgrades for Office 2003. These small things are frustrating and suggest to me that Outlook 2003 is not completely compatible with Vista. I have 2 choices – upgrade to Office 2007 or downgrade from Vista to XP Professional (the discs to do this came with the machine). What do you think I should do?

  5. I installed Office 2003 on my new Vista Home Premium computer, then
    transferred my data from my xp computer to the new computer using the Easy
    Transfer Cable. All the settings and data transferred ok, but when I try to
    Send/Receive, I get an error “You do not have appropriate permission to
    perform the operation”. I am logged in as the Administrator. Any ideas?


  6. Installed old copy of MS Office 2003 on new Vista machine. During the installation got an error message that a value could not be changed on some registry key, \CLSID\{13DEA42-8D21-4C8E-BF9C-8F69CB068FCA}. Continued with the installation and Office appears to work. However, I can’t get the updates to install. Get the same error message. I have checked the “permissions” for that key and they seem to be OK.

  7. I have a 2003 Microsoft office that I tried to install on my new vista laptop (was XP Pro version of Office). It says the key is invalid when I type it in. I didn’t uninstall the 2007 trial first, could that be the reason?

  8. I have Vista on my desktop…I installed Office professional 2003, excel opens and works fine but word will not open in anything other than safe mode. When I try to open a document i get an error messge saying that “Windows can not find the file” – Please make sure you typed it in correctly, and then try again”. Do you have any solutions? I have already unistalled and reinstalled the software and I am out of ideas.

  9. I just installed Office 2003 in my new Visa machine and it installed the hebrew language pack. I tried the language tool to reset it,but the calender in outlook still displays in Hebrew.

    I uninstalled it until I can get an answer, what happened and how do I fix it. I am new to Vista and know only a little about it.

    E-mail me please. [email removed]

    Thanks for any help.

  10. I have just purchased a laptop with windows vista and a trial version of office 2007. I’m planning to un-install the trial office 2007 and install my old office 2003 because it wont install with 2007 and i dont want to pay for 2007 when 2003 is adequate for my needs.
    is there any problem in doing this

  11. please am using a laptop with window vista on it but i have been trying to install microsoft office 2003 but it doesn’t work out.
    please how do i go about it.

    Sorry, but “it doesn’t work” isn’t anywhere near enough information for me to even make a guess.

    – Leo
  12. I purchased a new HP laptop with Vista Home Premium. I uninstalled the Office 2007 trial because I wanted to install my Office Small Business Edition 2003 – I have the discs and upgraded on a previous computer that had XP. When I put in the disc, I get a message that the key requires a version of office 97, 2000 or XP to upgrade and to supply a previous version on CD or other. There is no version of XP on the new machine. How do I continue the install?

  13. Do I have to uninstall office 2007 (trial version) before installing office 2003? my computer is a 64bits with vista home premium.
    I had a lot of trouble intalling some softwares like adobe acrobat 8 (which I had to migrate to adobe acrobat 9) and autocad 2008…with no solution till now.

  14. i purchased a Dell Studio with Windows Vista already installed, including Microsoft Works. Do I have to uninstall MS Works to install MS Office? Can I just install MSPowerpoint while I continue to use MS Works?

    You can leave and continue to use MS Works. You can install MS Office (or just PowerPoint) without installing Works.

    – Leo
  15. Howdy , looks like a helpful website .,.,truly hope so .,.,.may even download this weekly deal .,.I’m just so skidish nowadays .,.it almost take a local tv station and the F.C.C to get rid of bad ( helpful as they say and they are not ) anyways I have the same deal under the guarentee of a 3 year program .,.the company had to send out 4 times to repair my last p.c ( 2,310.40 ) just in parts .,.not labor or all those parts delivered ..anyways it was considered a lemon and they replaced it with this vista .,. I have a simular deal as above but a little diff .,., I try to download the link from microsoftand it tells me that this is already in my p.c .,.so do you think I should get rid of anything that say 2007 powerpoint etc ,.,. I got rid of the trial for office 2007 when I turned this on for the first time .,.,but their is like pwr-point and another one left .,.( I would like to use my office 2003 standard edition .,.,thanks for any comment you may have merle is my hunting dog .,.and my name is Ira .,., thanks again for the listening.,., thanks for the free service need more like it !

  16. Dear Mr. Leo,

    Please help me I just newly purchased a Dell Windows Vista Laptop and quite dissappointed of knowing that microsoft office is not there and came to know that I have to install it separately

    Now my question is:
    1. which version of MS office will work better for my laptop.
    2.Can I download it on the Internet for free, If ever which site is better to download?
    3.Or do I have to purchase and let someone download it for me?

    Your answer to the above questions will be highly appreciated.

    Thank you and more power.


    Any available version of Microsoft Office should work just fine. You cannot download it for free. There are many online stores (Amazon, Frys, etc.) that sell it, and will send you the installation media to install it yourself.

    – Leo
  17. Leo,

    I just change from old 32bit computer with XP pro to newer 64 bit computer with Vista. I have some old office 2003 files on my hard drive which i removed form old computer and have in an enclosure
    I conecected old hard drive via usb to new computer and transferred files all the word documents were readable but none of the office 2003 files were.

    Can I purchase and load office 2003 on my vista computer or should I load the latest version of office. if I load the latest versionof office will my 2003 files be readable in vista thru the 2007 office program?

  18. I am having a big problem trying to install Office 2003 pro addition with vista. I keep getting a message that says that I can’t install the manager addition of outlook until I have first installed office 2003. But how can I do that when it is all on one disk? my computer crashed yesterday and I have to reinstall everything,but funny thing is that I had this office pro on this oomputer before it crashed and never had this problem. What is going on? Can anyone out there help me?! Help please! thanks much

  19. I have purchased an HP laptop with Vista Premium. I have a licensed copy of Microsoft Office 2003. I am running into numerous problems. Each time I use the Microsoft Email program I have to “accept” the license agreement. Then if I send an email I have to do it again. This is also true on my excel and word program. It was worse until I downloaded a microsoft patch. Prior to the patch I had to accept the licensing every time I opened a window. Is there a fix?

  20. I have a new Dell, Vista was on it. I installed Office 2007 and now I am trying to open some old 2003 word documents and it is not working! Help!

    “…it’s not working” gives me nothing to go on, so I can’t help. How does it fail? What specific error messages or other symptoms do you get? What steps are you trying to open the documents?

    – Leo
  21. I have a new laptop an HP pavilion 64bbit tha came with a trial of office2007. I unistalled 2oo7 tried to install my 2003 and it says cannot locate install log file. and will not install at all.i amon a netwok with 3 other pc’s 2 xp and vista 64’s i’ve not messed with one vista machine yet, out of fear. What can be done?

  22. Just bought a Dell Studio 15 with Vista as OS. I installed Office 2003 Professional after receiving the laptop. My problem is that it takes way too long to open a document and then way to long to print it. I didn’t have this problem with the same software installed on my wife’s Toshiba with Vista. I uninstalled the software and re-installed it but the problem still exists. Any suggestions?

  23. I just purchased a Dell Studio with Vista in it. I don’t like Office 2007 so I purchased a copy of office 2003. Now I am having problems with Power Point. Word and Excel are ok but PPT is giving me problems. It freezes all the time and when I save the file it’s about 3 times the size it should be.

  24. I do beleive that you have actually used windows vista and office 2003 on it. Office 2003 has serious compatibility issues with the operating system. The programs will randomily crash and create unrecoverable errors in the office file itself. I do not suggest using office 2003 on Windows Vista and not using Windows Vista at all since not even Internet Explorer runs stable on it.

  25. Leo,
    You say that all versions of MS Office will work on Vista, but my husband can NOT use Outlook 2000 on Vista. He can use Excel, word, but not Outlook. Lots of stuff on the internet about what to try to do to fix but so far nothing has worked – we put 2 missing dlls into the right directory. Now when you open it, 5 seconds later it just simply closes.
    Any ideas?

  26. Hi Leo,

    Microsoft excel, along with the other applications, works fine when I first open it up. But when I save the actual document, then re-open it, the microsoft office application hangs and i cannot open it anymore. Can you help me out?

  27. I have microsoft office 2007 on my dell latitude e6500 laptop with windows vista installed. How can i get microsoft office 2003 instead? Or can I get the features of Microsoft office word 2003 on the 2007 edition?

    Even though it looks different, I believe all the features of Office 2003 are in 2007. (Only way to downgrade, that I know of, is to find and purchase a copy of Office 2003 and install it. I recommend getting comfortale with 2007.)


  28. I have been trying to install Office Pro 2003 on my new HP Pavilion with Windows Vista. I get to the “Now installing Office” but it never advances. The CD is good – what can I do?

  29. I have been trying to use Office Professional 2003 with my Vista computers. I have no issues with programs since installing updates except for one:
    1) Outlook e-mail keeps on hanging up after opening. It does begin running again, but it tales a minute or so.
    2)It also stalls when opening replies and while writing e-mails.

    FYI – There are nos issues with the calendar or contatcts.

    Please help.


  30. Hi Leo; thanks for the help.

    I have a new laptop, after my old one was killed by a freak ceiling fan accident (fell on it). I downloaded the old laptop on to a portable drive which I can hook-up with a USB cable. The old laptop was Windows XP; the new is Vista. I have already bought MS Office TWICE, I don’t want to do it again, and I’m flat broke anyway. My problem is that even by accessing the external drive (windows xp), I can’t open MS Office on my laptop and modify files (like my resume). I’ve paid for two licenses and still can’t use the product, I need help.

    Much thanks,
    J. Smith

    You do realize you need to install Office on your new computer, right? Since you’ve purchased it twice already, just grab the installatoin media you got, and install it on the new machine (using the product key you used when you installed it on the old, dead machine would be the safest thing to do). Then you should be able to open your docs. (Alternately you could download and install OpenOffice.)


  31. Wow Leo you were told exactly what the problem as by several people and ignored it. Terrific. If you don’t know why Office 2003 slows to a crawl when accessing/saving files in Vista then just say so.

    You idea of saving the file wherever and then hunting it down to move it to where you really wanted it to go is something but not a real answer to the problem.

  32. I have a computer a few months old. It runs on Windows Vista. I purchased Microsoft Office 2007. My problem is when people send me Word documents, when I open them it is just a bunch of nonsensical characters. I assume they are sending me a Word 2003 document. I have the compatability pack installed but still can’t get these documents in a readable fashion. Can you help?

  33. I have Vista on my PC, and I just installed Microsoft Office 2003. Now when I get updates to install for Office 2003, the installs fail because of an unknown error code 646. What does this error code mean, and how do I fix it?


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