Recycled software

Another way to avoid exploitation

Don’t pay for over-priced software that you don’t need!

A question sometimes asked: “What did you use to make that poster/flyer?” The answer is always “The cheapest word-processor that will do the job”.

For example, the current A5 flyers and A3 posters for the drop-in and podcast were edited with MS Word 2010 because that’s what I use to edit complex documents for commercial printing. More recent versions of MS Word are not superior, just more expensive. The free LibreOffice Writer isn’t quite versatile enough for image-heavy documents, and the free Google Docs is best for documents that will be shared or revised frequently (eg: a CV).

So this post is about how you can find a cheaper and more appropriate version of MS Office (which includes MS Word), if you really need it.

How to buy a retail product key

This is how we got MS Office 2007 or 2010 on the drop-in laptops.

What you need to know …

  • What you actually pay for is a pre-used licence key — a retail product that can be transferred and traded.
  • Always make sure that you are paying for a key, not a recurring subscription.
  • The software itself is a free download from the Microsoft server.
  • The licence key enables you to install and use the software legally — and you can move it to a new computer if you upgrade your hardware.
  • If you have bought a Windows computer with MS Office pre-installed, you do not have a retail key. You cannot sell it or move it to a different computer.
  • When you buy a pre-used licence key, the seller company provides detailed instructions on what to do with it

Sellers

There are several UK sellers in this market. I’m not going to recommend any of them because you — as the buyer — must use your own judgement, not mine. I have been satisfied as a customer of Software Geeks (softwaregeeks.co.uk), but they have competitors and it might be foolish to ignore them.

Recommended MS Office versions

  • MS Office Home and Student 2007 — possibly the best deal, but not common now. The license allows you to install on three devices.
  • MS Office 2010

Getting help

Although this procedure is quite straightforward, digital beginners can easily get lost. However, our drop-in volunteers can probably help you — provided you are already comfortable buying online with a credit or debit card.

If you are a Windows user, our volunteers might also point out that …

  • Open-source LibreOffice Writer (libreoffice.org/discover/writer) is not only free, it will probably meet all your word-processing requirements.
  • All versions of Windows since 1995 have included a simple word-processor named Wordpad — so if your needs are basic, you already have what you are looking for.