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Can I install multiple versions of PowerPoint / Office?

Will it work to install several different versions of Office?

It depends on what you expect out of it. Microsoft doesn't support it. It may not even be permitted under your license agreement.

MVP Dian Chapman's written one of the best articles we've seen on the subject.

Here's Microsoft's take on this:
OFF2000: Running Multiple Versions of Microsoft Office (Q218861)

OFFXP Running Multiple Versions of Microsoft Office (Q290576)

Information about running multiple versions of Office with Office 2003

Information about using 2007 Office suites and programs on a computer that is running another version of Office

That said, there are quite a few of us who need to work with multiple versions of Office. Obviously, the most reliable way to do this is to install to multiple computers, but that's not always possible. If not, consider installing a product like Virtual PC or VMWare and installing different versions of Office into different "virtual machines". See Using Virtual PC / VMWare virtual computers for more about virtual machines.

If virtual machines aren't possible, Dian Chapman has a good overview for multiple Office installs here.

And here's a summary of what we've learned about using multiple versions of Office on one computer. Most of this talks about Office, but really it's specific to PowerPoint. If you have specific concerns about other Office apps, visit the page to find a site that's more specific to the app you're interested in.

Is it safe to try this?
Should you even try to install multiple versions? Not if ...

But I gotta!
If you found yourself in one of those boats but you still need to run multiple Office versions, try one of the following:

I'm brave. I'm not mission critical. I like risks. I have no choice. (Pick one)
No worries. Probably.

It's generally safe to install multiple versions, as long as you follow the rules:

It's dark in here. What just went "bump"?
One other suggestion: Expect the Unexpected. Murphy never sleeps. Things can still go wrong. Here are the ones we know about:

Graphics Filters
All versions of Office from 97 onward use the same common set of graphics filters for all the apps. Fine.
All versions of Office from 97 onward store the graphics filters in the same folder. Not Fine.
Really, really dumb, in fact. This means that when you install a later version, your older graphics filters get overwritten.

Applets (MSGraph, Equation Editor, etc.)
The installer will automatically update some of the "applets" (Equation Editor, MSGraph, etc.) Only one version of each is allowed. While all the versions of Office will usually work with the one applet version installed (the newest), not everyone you might share your file with will be able to open/edit your embedded object if they're using an older version of Office.

OLE Relationships
If you do any VBA programming that involves controlling or referencing other OLE server or client apps (Excel, Word, etc.), you should test your final code on computers that don't have multiple versions of Office installed. What works on your computer (with Excel 8, 9 and 10) may not work on my computer (with just Excel 8).

Icons on Start menu
The most recently installed version will start when you click the icon in Start, Programs. If you want easy access to the earlier versions:

Registration issues
Generally, the last version you install of any Office app will "own" that app's file types. For example, the most recently installed version of PowerPoint will launch when you doubleclick a PPT file.

This also means that some automation solutions will always launch the most recent version of any Office app. As a rule, that's ok, but if you're developing code, you should be aware that you might be inadvertently controlling PowerPoint 2002, for example. That's fine, until your code needs to run with PowerPoint 2000 and errors out because you were accessing features that only 2002 supports.

Finally, some Office apps may register themselves at startup. In other words instead of the most recently installed version owning file associations, the most recently run version will. We hope to have a list of these versions. In the meanwhile, it's simple enough to test for yourself.

Re-registering takes time. If the program re-registers itself each time it starts up, you'll have to wait longer for it to start each time you use it after having used another version previously.

You may only have one version of Outlook installed. If you don't want to update to the most recent version, elect not to include Outlook in your custom install.

Updates/Service Packs, Detect and Repair, Uninstalling
You're pretty much on your own here. Who knows what Detect & Repair in Office 2000 will make of files installed by Office 2002 and beyond? Will the Service Pack installer for PowerPoint 97 be able to cope when it finds itself crawling among files that are 8 years younger than it's expecting?

My advice would be:

Search terms:multiple,version,different

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Can I install multiple versions of PowerPoint / Office?
Last update 07 June, 2011