You might want to install and use Office 2007 applications, but still keep your Office 2003 applications available on your computer because right now you are more familiar with them and maybe you have lots of files in the 2003 format.

This article summarises three ways you could do this on a single hard drive PC; firstly with two separate partitions, secondly by installing to two separate folders and thirdly by using Virtual PC 2007 to run a host PC and a guest PC. Attending a relevant PC hardware or Operating System course training course would be a good way to gain further skills in these areas.

The first method covers installing Office 2003 and Office 2007 on separate partitions.

For this first method you need to create two separate bootable partitions on a single drive computer. You can create more than one partition when you first install Windows XP. Once the partitions are created, you can format and install an operating system on each, setting both as bootable.

Alternatively you can create a new partition on an existing installation from unused space and then install an operating system on the new partition. You can create the extra partition using the Windows XP Disk Management tool which comes as part of the Management Console, or you could use third party software such as Partition Magic.

Once you have two partitions setup, formatted, and operating systems installed, you can install Office 2003 on one partition and Office 2007 on the other. So when you boot your computer you can choose which partition to run and hence which Office version to use. Both partitions can open and save files to the other partition, so files can be easily shared.


The second method covers installing Office 2003 and Office 2007 to separate folders.

For this second method you need to install each Office version to a different folder, all on the same single drive computer. There is one important point to mention. Outlook cannot co-exist in two versions on one computer partition, so decide which version you want to use, and only install that version. For this article we'll assume you want to use Outlook 2007. BE SURE TO BACKUP YOUR EMAILS BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES.

Start by installing the older Office 2003 version first. When you run the installation disk, choose a custom installation, change the installation folder to Office2003 and select the desired Office components, BUT DO NOT SELECT OUTLOOK 2003 and proceed with the installation. Once finished you can install the next version.

Run the Office 2007 installation disk, choose a custom install, change the installation folder to Office2007 and select the desired Office components, DO SELECT OUTLOOK 2007 and proceed with the installation.

Once the installation is complete you can run both sets of Office applications, but only one version of Outlook. You may need to reorganise your resulting Start Menu programme groups.

Two notes of caution are worth mentioning. Firstly, if you switch from an Office 2007 application to the same application in Office 2003 the application runs fine. However if you switch from Word 2007 to Word 2003 the computer system files get confused, and a Windows Installer box appears. Just click on the CANCEL button to close this. (If you miss this first box, a second installation box subsequently appears; just click its CANCEL button) This is followed by a further box saying "an error has occurred, run setup and repair ..." etc. Click on the OK button to close this box. Word 2003 then loads normally.

Secondly, if you use this method, and you have chosen one Outlook version to use, YOU SHOULD TURN OFF AUTOMATIC WINDOWS UPDATES. Instead choose manual customised updates, and always exclude updates for the Outlook version you have not chosen. This prevents updates for the wrong Outlook version corrupting the version you are running. If you make a mistake and your Outlook becomes corrupted because you allowed the wrong updates, Outlook will not open. If this happens, run the Office installation disk again (for the Outlook version you are keeping), choose the repair option, let the process proceed and the Outlook files will be fixed; Outlook will then open normally.

The third method covers installing Office 2003 on your PC and Office 2007 in a virtual guest PC also on your PC.

For this third method you need to download and install VirtualPC 2007 from Microsoft. This is a free application which allows you to run a virtual guest PC within a host PC, and the two are entirely separate.

If you download and install the latest version Virtual PC 2007 SP1 you'll need at least 512M free RAM on your host PC. Run the application to setup a new virtual PC and then install its own operating system, which may be the same as on the host PC, and then install your applications, including Office 2007.

So you can run Office 2003 applications as normal on your regular PC and Office 2007 in your virtual PC. Virtual PC can also be configured to allow file sharing between the guest and host PC.

We'll close this article by summarising the three methods.

Organising separate partitions does take some time to setup because you need to install a second operating system, and is slow to use because of the time it takes to reboot your PC. However you can run two versions of Outlook if you wish, and each partition can access files on the other.

Organising separate installation folders is easy and quick to setup because you use only the one operating system and is easy to use. However the method is not recommended by Microsoft because of potential system file conflicts, and you are restricted to using only one version of Outlook. If you are careless with Windows Updates you can corrupt Outlook, so always have the original installation disks handy to run a repair if necessary.

Organising a virtual PC does take time to organise because you need to install a second operating system in your virtual PC, but is quick and easy to use and you can run two versions of Outlook if you wish. Virtual PC 2007 can also be configured to share files between the guest and host PCs.