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Why can’t I get software on CDs or DVDs?


I bought a new HP desktop, which now comes in 64-bit. I also have all kinds of CDs with software from the old PC (a 32-bit machine) which is now outdated and does not work properly in the new 64-bit unit anymore, specifically, Word and Excel. Talking to the computer shop here, they’re telling me that all newer software now comes only as a download where they sell you an activation code and you then go download the software yourself. I don’t like this system at all. I would like to have this software on CD. They also mentioned that Microsoft could sell you a CD for the software. Now I tried their website for this but I got stuck and got nowhere.

It’s true that the world is most definitely turning towards more and more online delivery. Many software packages have been online or ‘download only’ for quite a while. As of late, manufacturers are beginning to assume that we all have super fast Internet connections, and thus are making even large packages online only.

At first blush, that would appear to be the case for Office 2013, but there may be some options.

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32 bit may very well work

First, I want to you think about the 32-bit software you already have.

It’s very possible that the 32-bit software is going to work on Windows 64-bit. That may or not be true for the specific version of Office you already have, but it’s something worth trying because in many cases, in fact, in my experience, in most cases 32-bit software does in fact work on Windows 64-bit.

CDs? No, probably DVDs

Now, let’s talk about CDs. In fact, most significant packages are no longer shipped on CD and they haven’t been for awhile. Why? Well, CDs are just too small. What they’re delivered on instead are DVDs.

CDs can hold around 700 MB, but DVDs start at almost seven times that big – 4.7 GB. And yes, Windows installation media exceeded 700 MB quite some time ago, as did Microsoft Office.

So, what you’re really looking for here aren’t CDs, but DVDs. (And depending on who you’re asking, the distinction might matter.)

Download only

These days, when you purchase a boxed product, you’re likely to find nothing but a card inside. That card contains the product registration code, or activation code.

I’ve actually talked about this for years. Even when you purchase an actual physical CD or DVD, what you’re really buying is that activation code. As long you get the exact matching product media, CD or DVD, from somewhere, you can install and activate with that code.

Office 2013These days, companies are starting to assume that you’ll download the product and are simply selling you the activation code.

I personally use Office 365, which is an online subscription. To me, it’s cost effective and it will let you install, basically, almost all of the Office programs on up to five computers for a not-too-terrible annual fee. I think it even includes some extra Sky One Drive space and Skype minutes… but as an online subscription it does make the assumption that you’re online and that you can download what you need.

I do the same with Adobe’s Creative Suite that includes Photoshop and of course much, much more. I was honestly surprised to find out that downloads appear to be the approach they’re taking for regular old Office 2013 as well.

Office 2013 on DVD

However, all is not quite lost. I did find a knowledgebase article on the topic: #2808266 – “Downloading or getting media for Office 2013 or Office 365”. This knowledgebase article states that for Office 2013, you can login to your Office account and request or purchase what they call a “backup” DVD.

My assumption is that you’ll first have to purchase the online version and in fact create that Office account as part of it. I don’t know if this requires you to have actually downloaded and installed that online version before ordering the DVD, but I’d certainly hope not.

So, what it all boils down to is that I believe and hope that you should be able to do this:

  1. Buy the online version.
  2. Don’t download it.
  3. Request the backup DVD.
  4. Install from that backup DVD when it arrives.
  5. Activate with the activation code that you were given when you purchased the online version to begin with.

I hope this works.

And by the way, they’re actually very explicit about Office 365: there are no DVDs available for Office 365. It’s an online only product and that kind of sort of makes sense. But when it comes to Office 2013, backup DVDs are apparently what you’re looking for.

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6 comments on “Why can’t I get software on CDs or DVDs?”

  1. Hi,

    We have a computer which controls a mass spectrometer (we are a water testing laboratory).

    The networking is dedicated to the connection between the computer and the m.s.

    We would like to install Office 2013 on this computer but not change our network setup to allow us to access the internet.

    Will these instructions you gave work for us?

    “Office 2013 on DVD

    Buy the online version.
    Don’t download it.
    Request the backup DVD.
    Install from that backup DVD when it arrives.
    Activate with the activation code that you were given when you purchased the online version to begin with.”



  2. Leo,
    I just built a new computer which I bought the necessary parts, mother board, video card., etc… it’s an ASUS with a Ryzen 7 64bit processor. I have the dvd disk for Microsoft works which I used on my previous computer.
    It allowed me to do anything on my computer I wanted to do. Unfortunately, it will not load onto my new computer, I have no problem purchasing a new version of ms office but I do not wish to purchase it by downloading onto my computer, I want to load it onto my computer from a dvd disk please advise.

    • I’m not convinced current versions are available on DVD any more — they’ve moved (like MANY other programs) to download-only, whether you buy a single copy one time, or sign up for a subscription. I’d have to understand your reasons, but the subscription really is the best value, in my opinion.

  3. My CD Software I purchased does not have an activation code. It is Ty Tracker by Bangzoom which is no longer in business. The book it was included with says to call Bangzoom to get it. That isn’t possible. Amazon and other companies are still selling the book and software cd. It was and still is very expensive and i need a way to get the key. The cd alone doesn’t help! I have asked Everybody including the author. She says that she did not have anything to do with the software part so she did not know anything about the code. Please if there is any way to help me or send me to the right side I would appreciate it very much. Susan.


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