Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing from Pirated to Permitted Software.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 25, 2021)
Sindee found out recently that the copy of Microsoft Office installed on her computer was a pirated copy. She purchased a new copy, removed the pirated program, installed the newly purchased software, but discovered that the product key from the pirated version remains on her computer. She is now unable to download any updates to the program and wonders how to fix the situation.
Product keys for Microsoft Office are stored in the Windows Registry. If you want to install a copy of Office that uses a different product key, then you need to delete the place in the Registry where the product key is stored. You do that by following these general steps:
These steps are the "quick and simple" steps to get rid of the product key. Understand that you should not follow these steps if you have multiple versions of Office installed on the same system. In that case, you'll want to follow the more detailed steps outlined in this Knowledge Base article:
When you start an Office application, you will then have the opportunity to enter the new product key. If you prefer, you can uninstall Microsoft Office before you do the Registry editing, and then reinstall the software from scratch.
If you don't feel comfortable editing the Windows Registry or if you run into other problems doing the uninstall, you can try a free utility such as Revo Uninstaller:
The program is much more thorough in its cleaning capabilities than is the regular Windows Uninstaller. It can get rid of all vestiges of Microsoft Office, and then you can reinstall the software with no problems.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9225) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing from Pirated to Permitted Software.
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