| By Woody Leonhard |
Microsoft officially allows you to run the new Office 2010 — the whole enchilada — for up to 30 days, without entering an activation key.
Unofficially, there’s a little-known trick allowing potential Office 2010 buyers to rearm trial copies, thus letting them kick the tires for half a year without spending a penny.
Try-before-you-buy extends to Office 2010
In his Feb. 15, 2007, Top Story, editorial director Brian Livingston unveiled the secret incantation that allowed PC users to run a trial version of Windows Vista for up to 120 days gratis. The trick proved controversial, despite the fact that Microsoft had deliberately baked the capability into Windows.
I showed you how to use a similar trick to get 120 days out of Windows 7 — again for free — in my Aug. 20, 2009, Top Story. You had the whole product, with nary a nag screen or a hiccup, if you just knew the trick.
Now, Microsoft has built the same sort of rearm trick into Office 2010. If you perform the steps properly, you should be able to run any version of Office 2010 for up to 180 days, free, without raising any eyebrows at Microsoft. (Sorry, you still have to pay for a license if you keep it longer than that.)
But if you just want to thoroughly evaluate the latest version of the office software most businesses run on, you can do so for up to half a year — and it’s 100% legitimate.
Microsoft offers seven flavors of Office
On April 20, Microsoft announced that Office 2010 was released to manufacturing (RTM), the final step before release of the retail product. Microsoft then released a downloadable business version on May 12. But the release dates for the other versions are still somewhat murky, with “sometime in June” being about as precise as it gets.