Microsoft ends support for Office 2010: What you can do

Lots of options, and some are even free.

Credit: Melissa Riofrio/IDG

Office 2010 users, we know you're out there. As recently as 2017, according to a survey published by IT marketplace Spiceworks, Office 2010 was being used in 83 percent of the companies surveyed. Most companies seemed to have a mix of Office versions active, with Office 2007 the next most prevalent, at 68 percent.

While time and Microsoft's relentless efforts to get users to switch to Office 365 subscriptions have surely shifted the data somewhat in the past two years, it's very likely that Office 2010 is still popular. And if you're one of those Office 2010 users, you might have seen this screen pop up recently as you launched Word or another Office program:

support for office 2010 ending october 13 2020 message Melissa Riofrio/IDG

"Support for Office 2010 ending October 13, 2020," says the message popping up on Office 2010 screens everywhere.

That's right: Microsoft Office 2010 support ends on October 13, 2020. This means no more technical support, no more patches, and no more security updates.

The good news is you have a lot of options, and most are reasonably priced. The bad news is that each new version gets closer and closer to subscription-based products, which means, eventually, subscriptions will be the only option available.

We’ll walk you through those options so you can decide what to do.

ms office 2010 JD Sartain / IDG

What happens if I stay with Office 2010?

If you are dead-set on keeping Office 2010, you can do so—as long as you’re comfortable with the risks. Because Microsoft will no longer be supporting it with bugs and patches, you will need thorough and aggressive virus protection software. Another roadblock you may face is incompatibility with some of the newer programs and file formats. However, keep in mind that almost all Windows products can be exported regardless of one-to-one compatibility.

Can I switch to Office 365 Online?

Office 365 Online is a free web-based version of Office. However, it is a limited, scaled-down version and lacks many of the full version’s features. This option works well for students and new users who want to “try before they buy” and experiment with the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. However, unless your needs are very basic you probably wouldn't want to run your business off these online applications. 

Should I upgrade to an Office 365 subscription?

You could, but it's going to cost you. Office subscriptions include:

You can compare all the Office 365 versions on Microsoft's website.

Note: The Business Essentials version provides the free Web and Mobile versions only, plus four special services: Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. If you don’t need these four services, save your money and just go with the free Office 365 Web/Online version.

The Office 365 Home versions include:

The Home versions cost more than the Business versions because they have different features and user licenses. You can compare the Office 365 Home, Personal, and Student versions on Microsoft's website and decide which package fits your needs. 

In addition to the 365 Business and Home versions, Microsoft also offers four Enterprise plans for corporations and small businesses: 365 Plus, 365 E-1, 365 E-3, and 365 E-5. All subscription-based, these plans provide a lot more “special services” that the other 365 plans lack. 

Can I upgrade to Office 2019?

Office Home & Business 2019 Digital (before taxes) is $249 from Microsoft, and Office Professional 2019 is $440 from Microsoft (note that prices are always subject to change).

Office 2019 comes with many caveats. Unlike Office 365, which is updated regularly with new features, Office 2019 is not. You get the features that came with the original version that was released in October of 2018, and no more. Office 2019 does not include OneNote, SharePoint Designer, or InfoPath. When the next desktop version is released, you must purchase it again if you want new features.

In addition, 2019 is not supported by Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. And, for those who run networks or install software on multiple drives, Office 2019 can only be installed on the system drive—that is, the C:\ drive (usually), and that location cannot be changed.

Here's the real kicker: You must have Internet access to install and use this product, unlike 2010, which functions offline.

What are my alternatives to Office?

If the whole Microsoft thing is getting too complicated or too expensive for your pocketbook, we've reviewed the major alternative programs to Office, including Google's online application, LibreOffice, FreeOffice and more. Because they're all free, there's little risk to trying them. 

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JD Sartain

PC World (US online)
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