How-To Geek

Upgrade Office 2003 to 2010 on XP or Run them Side by Side

If you’re still running XP, currently have Office 2003 installed on your machine, and skipped Office 2007, you might want to upgrade to Office 2010. In this guide we will show you the upgrade process or how to run them side by side.

In this example we are upgrading from Office 2003 Standard to Office Professional Plus 2010 RTM (Final) on XP Professional.

System Requirements

To run Office 2010 on your XP machine you have to make sure you have Service Pack 3 and Microsoft Silverlight installed (links below). Or you can just install them through Windows Update.


Recommended Hardware

  • 1GHZ CPU or higher
  • 512 MB of RAM or higher
  • 1024×768 Resolution or higher
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card with 64 MB of memory or higher

Installing Office 2010

Simply kick off the Office Professional Plus 2010 installation.


Enter in your product key…


Agree to the EULA…


Select the Customize button…

7 custom

Setup will detect Office 2003 and allow you to remove all applications, keep them, or select only the ones you want to keep. In this example we’re going to remove Excel and PowerPoint, and keep Outlook and Word 2003.

11 remove

Next, click the Installation Options tab and select Office programs you want to install. Since we’re keeping Outlook 2003 and don’t want to use Outlook 2010, we’re making sure not to install Outlook 2010. However, we want to run Word 2003 and 2010 on the same machine. After you’ve made your selections click the Upgrade button.


The installation begins and you’re shown the progress. The amount of time it takes to install will vary between systems.


Installation is complete and you can close out of the installer.

10 complete

Now when you go into the Start menu under Microsoft Office, you’ll see both versions of the Office apps available.


Here is a shot of Word 2003 and 2010 running together on our XP machine.

13 word 


If you’re moving from Office 2003 to 2010, this allows you to install both versions side by side. It gives you a chance to learn 2010 features, and still work in the familiar 2003 environment when you need to get things done quickly. If you’re having problems installing Office 2010 make sure to check out our article on how to fix problems upgrading Office 2010 beta to RTM (Final) release.

Also, if you were using Office 2007 and are currently using the 2010 beta, we have a guide on how to switch back to Office 2007 after the 2010 beta ends.


XP Service Pack 3

Microsoft Silverlight

Details on Office 2010 System Requirements

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 05/18/10

Comments (30)

  1. Nesha


    I have WinXPPro, Office 2003 SP3 and Office 2007 (some features).
    I would like to keep 2003 and upgrade from 2007 to 2010.

    How can I do this?


  2. Chris

    Nice article – thanks!

  3. Nikki


    Helpful article, but what happens when you want 2003 documents to open in Office 2003. I followed these steps but my 2003 documents are opening in 2010 by default. Is there a way to change that?

  4. Cheech

    These instructions only show you how to run them side by side, where are the upgrade instructions? From what I have read, you cannot upgrade from Office 2003 to Office 2010.

  5. KimH

    If one has installed Office 2010 to just run side by side w/ Office 2003 (and my desktop does have Office 2003) can one just delete the Office 2003 “programs”. I have already installed Office 2010 on my laptop (totally “new” there) but also planned to use that Office 2010 set later to upgrade my desktop.

  6. 2003-2010 runner

    Every time I switch between word 2003 & word 2010 (x86) it wants to run through each’s respective mini-configuration wizard. The other apps like excel/powerpoint/publisher do not seem to exhibit this type of behavior.

  7. bungeeyau

    Hi, your info is very helpful. I have Windows XP and Office 2002 and thinking of upgrading to Office 2007 or 2010. I was told that there are issues with the 2010. Is the XP compatible with office 2010? How long does it take to install? I have 1GB RAM & 97GB hard drive. Thanks!

  8. Ron

    Neesha: you go with the Custom upgrade, “Keep all previous versions” option. That will install the “upgrade” parallel to the old installed version.

    Cheech: The “upgrade” is if you go with the “Upgrade” option rather than “Custom” or select “remove old versions” as part of Custom.

    Runner: this KB article tells how to get rid of the lag , You have to add a key to the registry, “NoReReg” for each version. That lag is a real PITA. I’m surprised this step wasn’t included in the article

    Bungeeyau: be more specific, what issues. I’ve been using 2010 since the beta came out without significant “issues”. Sorry, that wasn’t completely true. There is one issue, that “improvement” called the Ribbon Gooey (sic). If you are a keyboard user, the ribbon will be a stumbling block, but if you approach it with a positive attitude you can get used to it, … eventually (grin). For the most part, 2010 is about a Service Pack level of improvement over 2007 (I don’t think we should be paying for most of these “improvements”).

    Yes 2010 will run on XP.

    5-10 minutes to install.

    If you are planning on upgrade, go directly to 2010, unless you have a strong business need to use 2007.

    After using 2010 for over a year now I finally learned two tips that make the Ribbon more palatable:
    First, is a shortcut to toggle compress/expand the ribbon. When it is compressed, all that shows are the tab name, a single row that looks very much like the old menu.

    Second, in the menu version shortcut keys were identified by underlined characters. That is no longer the case. There is an option to display them in the popup tips. The tips are necessary until you learn the new shortcuts because many (most) have been changed.

    On a menu, there were at most 20 items. In the ribbon I’ve counted up to 70 commands exposed. So they need many new shortcuts including a bunch of 2 letter shortcuts. I could hold down the key and work through the shortcut keys, ie (yes is shorter, this is just a simple example) for the file open dialog. But in the ribbon, if I hold the key down to display the shortcuts there is a 2 second delay. Fortunately there is a way around that. Press and RELEASE IMMEDIATELY the key to display the first level of shortcut key prompts.

  9. Ragna Bloodedge

    hey from “Installing Office 2010, Simply kick off the Office Professional Plus 2010 installation.” It wouldn’t turn on once it rebooted. It the screen.and i can’t find it.

  10. Fatima

    A Very good Article, Thanks a lot. I want to ask you what is the best method in your opinion to upgrade from 2003 to 2010 for a corporate, not individual.

  11. MetalMan

    Anyone that likes productivity and performance, do NOT upgrade to 2007 or 2010. They are terrible.

  12. FCOCUS

    thanks for the great article, i have an other question about the XP theme your are using in screen shots, i like this blue skin, can you please tell me where can i download it ?

    Best regards;

  13. Crypsis

    Hello Everyone,

    i have recently installed office 2010 on my comp and now wish to go back to office 2007, but heres the catch, when i purchased 2007 all i bought was the product key card, no CD. I went to the MS Office download page but the only Office available is 2010. Is there any where i can download the MS Office small business 2007 suite? i have searched the web but have only found illegal ways to download it and i would like to have a legit copy. any help would be greatly appreciated.
    thank you
    Frustrated Office User

  14. Jerry Summers

    Just download the illegal version you already have a paid key so why are you worried.

  15. CR2

    Can I do this with Office 2002 (xp) and office 2010?

  16. Judy

    Unfortunately, I didn’t read this article until AFTER I installed Office 2010 on my laptop. I chose the “upgrade” option and lost my Ofice 2003. Can I reinstall Office 2003 and still have them running side by side? Or do I have to delete Office 2010 and reinstall Office 2003, then reinstall Office 2010 with the “custom” option?


  17. CR


    If you’re still watching this, the only thing in the “illegal downloads” is usually a software program or some kind of hack in order to illigetimize the software. They usually will include a disk image of the actual Office 2010 disk. That’s all you need, and you can still download it. Either delete after downloading or don’t download the other programs included with the disk image. The only thing you’ll want to be careful is where you’re getting the software from, and make sure there’s no virii/malware attached to what you’re downloading. Good luck

  18. AnthonyT

    I’m about to implement this change to several users in my company. Is there any drawback in leaving all of Office 2003 Basic installed and installing Office 2010 Pro Plus on top?

    Will there be conflicts running Outlook 2003 and 2010? I’d have them use 2010 as their main program.
    Excel 2003 and 2010? Word 2003 and 2010? Those are the two programs people mostly use and the ribbon will mess them up the most.

    Side Note: I’ve used Office 2010 Starter on my home laptop. It keeps freezing when I tried to open it. I read trying to open Office 2003 documents with it normally freezes it, but this also occurs when I try to open the program from the start button… Hopefully that was just a glitch, I’ll be installing Office 2010 Pro +.

    Other useful sites I’ll be using in the conversion:
    1. Back up autocomplete “address book” :
    or Start > Run > %appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook
    Copy Outlook.nk2

    2. Convert previous autocomplete “address book”s into Office 2010:

    3. Learn where menu and toolbar commands are in Office 2010:

  19. Jeroen

    Hello, I have a problem with Visio 2003 and Visio 2010. If I switch between these two then it runs through a mini-configuration wizard it’s the same problem as by word. the word problem I sloved with the earlier named NoReReg key in the registery, but for visio this doesn’t work.

    I have created a NoReReg key in the Visio folder (in the registery) but this doesn’t do the job
    Also I noticed that there wasn’t a options folder within the visio folder, so I created one and added another NoReReg in that folder but still no result.

    Has anyone a suggestion how to solve this problem ?

  20. phil

    I have Office 2003 and will be using 2010 side by side on XP Pro my question I also downloaded Compatabilty Pack for the 2007 Office system. Do I need to remove it prior to adding 2010? thank you

  21. Sarah

    I have several laptops that have 2003 and 2007 installed. I use 2003 for productivity and performance. 2007 is fine for some of the bells and whistles. As long as each file is opened through the respective software, the files run fine. However, in PPT 2003, if a graph requires modification and you double-click to get to the active data, it opens in 2007 (2007 uses an active data sheet like excel whereas 2003 has it’s own style data sheet through PPT). I find this troubling when I have to move the file to a machine that has 2003 only (uneditable files). I am a keyboard power user (commands) and detest the ribbon. It is not intuitive. I believe 2007 was designed to be used by everyone – not the high-end power user. I”m pleased to read that some of the 2003 functionality for key commands is available in 2010.

    It also appears MS is trying to get everyone to migrate to 2010. The updates that were issues April 15, 2011, appeared to cause huge problems with all PPT files created in 2003 or 2007. The notice was that the files were corrupted or couldn’t be drawn when, in fact, the updates were the entire problem. By uninstalling the updates, everything works the way it should have. In Googling this, I found that people running 2007 were getting the same error messages.

  22. gert mars

    I earlier used Office 2003 with Outlook 2003 on Windows XP. Now I installed Office 2010 with Outlook 2010 on Windows XP and Outlook 2003 was removed. I missed your information to keep Outlook 2003 with Word 2003 and not to install Outlook 2010. How can I go back to Outlook 2003, reinstall this after first uninstall Outlook 2010? But I’m afraid I will lose all my e-mails and e-mail addresses or will these exist in reinstalled Outlook 2003 after these proceedings?

  23. James

    I installed Office 2010 side-by-side with 2007, but every time I try to run the 2007 version, it says ‘installing’. Once I end this process, Word 2007 will finally open. If I try to ‘change/repair’ Office 2007 in the Programs and Features menu, it will set the default to 2007, which means 2010 is now ‘installing’ when I try to open it. I guess I’ll just stick with one for now… it seems like a pain to end the process just to use a different version. If there’s a fix for this, please let me know.

  24. Chris

    I have 500 PCs to upgrade from Office2003 to Office 2010.
    When I went from Office2000 to office2003 I used an automated configuration using the MST (installer transform) files, and the MaintWiz (OCIW) to create them, then I pushed them all during the PC login process without my end users ever even know it (well kinda)

    Does anyone out there know if there is a similar tool to use to push out the Office 2010?

    I have tried the Microsoft Office customization Tool, but that does not run upgrade.

    Any ideas?

  25. Pat

    I have run both version Microsoft Word 2010 and 2003 at home. I have saved my doc in 2010, but when open in 2003 seem to works, however, as soon as I save the doc, I encountered an error message and lost the file. I tried to recover, but didn’t go any where. Can some one tell me what’s happen and doesn’t it normal or I may have some virus on my PC? Noted: I open the file from my thumb drive and tried to save it in the same location.

  26. Mark


    On the instalation options tab, what is the difference betwee “Run from my computer” and “Run all from my computer”? I am going to be doing this exact instalation tonight and am curious about this.



  27. Melissa

    Where are the answers????

  28. Melissa

    I upgraded from Office 07 to Office 10 and lost my tool bars. How can I restore my old tool bars? I’m on vista,

  29. Jaid

    Hi this is a very helpful article. I didnt know there was a thing called service pack (im new to computers)

  30. Susan

    Can I buy Office 2010 Student/Home version and the above will still work rather than buying the Professional version?

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!