Monday to Wednesday, 10am - 4pm, ET
1.855.281.5499 (toll free)

Accidental Techie: Help! I can't install Microsoft Office!

Office Software

We've been getting a lot of calls and emails about issues around Microsoft Office, so I thought I'd focus on the most common issues in a little more depth, here.

Installation Problems Checklist

If you're having issues installing your Office product, or if you're about to request a donation of Office and want to be prepared when it arrives, here's a short checklist of the most common issues I've heard about.

1. Make sure you uninstall any Starter or Trial editions of Office before installing the donated product!

Trial editions of Office (the version that comes pre-installed on a new computer, or a trial of the product you've downloaded from Microsoft directly) don't play nicely with full versions due to some registry quirks. If your version of Office has "Trial" or "Starter" in its name, you'll need to uninstall it completely first. Don't worry - you won't lose any of your documents, though you may want to back up your email archives from Outlook.

If you have a new computer, there is a very good chance that you have a trial of Office pre-installed for you by the manufacturer. Make sure you uninstall it first - you can't activate that trial version with our product keys, and vice versa.

Trial versions (if you downloaded Office and accepted a 30-day trial), and Home, Student, and Starter versions of Office (the ones that come pre-installed on a new computer) must be uninstalled before you will be able to install and activate the full version you have licensed from us. Try uninstalling these versions, restarting your computer, and then installing and activating the licensed version we sent you with your product key.

If you aren't sure how to do this, here's a quick guide:

Windows 7 & 8: 

  • Click on Control Panel
  • Find "Programs" and below it, "Uninstall a program"
  • Find "Microsoft Office" (it won't have a year, like 2010 - just those words!)
  • Right-click and select "Uninstall".

Windows Vista, XP, or older:

  • Click on Control Panel
  • Click on "Add/Remove Programs"
  • Find the Office program in the list (might say Starter)
  • Right-click and select "Uninstall".


If you need help using the file you download from the VLSC, please let us know and we can help. It'll be an .iso file (a disc image file), not something you can run, so you'll need to either unzip it, burn it to a DVD, or mount it on a virtual drive. We can help.

> Read our walkthrough of how to download and install Microsoft software


2. If your product key isn't working, make sure you've entered your MAK product key by opening an Office program (we like Excel for this) and clicking on "Change Product Key". 

*Note: if you are trying to use a product key that was printed on DVD's you received from us at one point, this section applies to you. These sometimes match, but usually don't. You will need to go through the process we emailed you via email, and register your license with the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Centre (VLSC). This is where your product key will be generated, and where you will register your license so it belongs to your organization, and you can receive support for it.

If you skipped this step, or did not receive the email we sent, please complete it now or email us to have it sent again. If you did not receive it, it probably went to your Spam folder or you have a different email registered with us than the one you are using currently, so please let us know so we can update your records and ensure you receive the products you requested.

For help finding your MAK product key in VLSC, please read our walkthrough of how to download and install Microsoft software.

Entering the Product Key:

In Office 2010:

  • Open Excel
  • Click the "File" tab
  • Click "Help" 
  • Click "Change Product Key"

In Office 2013:

  • Open Excel
  • Click the File tab
  • Click "Account"
  • Click "Change Product Key"


If you'd like some videos that will walk you through this process, Microsoft has some great short ones which you can find here!


I hope this was helpful - if you have any stories, tips, or questions about installing Office, please send them to me at!


Cant install Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016

I currently am using Window 10 and Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 that I purchased. I have downloaded all the DVD disks and am now trying to install the program. The error I get is "Microsoft Language pack requires another Microsoft Office 2016 program installed." Did I order the wrong program? I just want a more up to date office program with Publisher and access included with the usual ones.

Hi there, sorry for the late

Hi there, sorry for the late reply. If you're still having issues, please contact our customer service department and they can walk you through the problem.

t: 1-855-281-5499 (toll free)

Good luck!
Ben Losman
TechSoup Canada, Communications coordinator