Marilyn from Illinois writes:

When I have ordered my computers thru shopping networks I always get them with office preloaded.(paid to get it preloaded–4 times now)  What I’m wondering is if there’s a way to copy office on a disk from the computers I already have.  I know I could buy a disk if they still have them but why should I buy a disk when I already in a manor of speaking have the program. Right now I have a Vista Gateway desktop & a Windows 7 HP laptop which both have office on them.  I am thinking of upgrading but don’t want to buy office preloaded again.  If I have to buy office again, I will buy disk or go to that free office. But like a lot of us, don’t like change & will try to get out of it if I can.—–Thank You

In the past when you purchased software pre-loaded onto a computer, sometimes they would send you the physical disc along with the documentation that contained your product key.  More recently, you may have received the product key in with you documentation. And that product key is…well key… here.  If you have that, you may be able to simply download Office again from Microsoft and activate it with that product key. Even if a copy is registered to a computer, you could contact Microsoft and see about switching that license to another computer.

Another suggestion I can offer you is the Office 365 subscription. That gives you the ability use use Office on up to five devices and you can change that license easily. You can easily download Office 365  (it’s a simple process that takes minutes and not worth paying someone to set up for you. Much simpler than in the old days when you had to swap discs five times) and then take that account with you no matter what device you are using.  But again, the key is that product key. Even if you are purchasing Office (or another program) pre-installed, make sure you are getting some documentation as to the product key. 

As you mentioned, there is always the option of switching to a free office suite like LibreOffice.

Another option is a program like PC Mover that transfers entire programs along with their product key information to a new computer, and can usually be found for under 30 dollars. But if you aren’t one for installing programs, you might not enjoy this process very much.

~ Cynthia