Is Microsoft Office 2003 Compatible with Windows 7

First Impressions - Is Microsoft Office 2003 Compatible with Windows 7

by Larry Neal Gowdy - November 22, 2011 (updated October 6, 2013)



Outlook 2003 in Windows with the default blue theme

Outlook 2003 in Windows 8 with high contrast theme

Outlook 2003 in the Windows 8 default and high contrast themes.

Update: Is Office 2003 Compatible with Windows 8?

UPDATE: Now that I have used Windows 8 on four of my computers for about two months I feel that I am getting a good feel of what is and what is not compatible. I have had no software compatibility issues except with Corel's® PaintShop Photo Pro X3 failing to load, which was cured with the PSPP service pack 5 update (the program had similar loading problems in Vista®, so it was not a Windows 8 compatibility issue). A graphics driver in an old laptop required a reinstallation while in Vista compatibility mode, and that's it except for Doom not being compatible with Windows 8. Wah!

I am now using Office 2010 on all of my Windows 8 computers, but one of the computers has Office 2010 Home and Student so I installed Outlook 2003 in a different folder so as to help prevent conflicts with Office 2010.

The screenshots show that Office 2003 is compatible with Windows 8 and can be used with or without the default blue skins when the Windows 8 themes are changed. I often use a modified high contrast black theme so that I can avoid most blue menus, and the high contrast themes also eliminate the default skins in Office 2003. I never thought to check to see if the same effect were possible in Windows 7.

To date I have not experienced any compatibility problems with Office 2003 in Windows 8, but I have seen reports that some individuals said that Office 2003 did not work for them (the reports did not state exactly what was not compatible, so it's anyone's guess what the problems might have been). The most important thing is that if a person is wanting to run Office 2010 and Office 2003 on the same computer then it appears to work best to uninstall Office 2003, then install Office 2010, and then reinstall Office 2003 into a different programs directory (I created one and named it Office2003). Using the custom installation for Office 2003, only choose the programs and features that you need, and do not install the same programs as Office 2010 or else you will likely get conflicts (i.e. each version of Word will reinstall each time it is used). Important!! Backup those emails before making any changes to Office!! Installations do sometimes go wrong, which is no fun, but it's downright tearful to lose one's emails.

In my opinion Windows 8 is a step up from XP and well worth the cost of upgrading to Office 2010 is necessary, but there is absolutely nothing wrong in giving Office 2003 a try in Windows 8.

Update October 06, 2013: I just wanted to clarify that running two different versions of Office on the same computer usually causes problems with one version not playing well with the other, and normally the best method is to first install 2003 and then install 2010 in a different directory. Nevertheless, in my experience I have found that no one method works for all computers, and so whether you have luck or not is anyone's guess. My best advice is to simply be ready to uninstall and reinstall when things go wrong; try and try again until it works.


Original Article


Microsoft® Word in Office 2003 remains the preferred word processor for its speed, stability, ease of use, and familiarity with long-term users. The Word in Office 2010 has a few advantages over 2003 - primarily those of a more modern appearance and a side bar search - but 2010 runs a little slower and requires the relearning of the ribbon user interface. Many individuals who use word processors for business may not willingly choose any word processor other than Word 2003.

For me personally, the two most important programs on my computer are Word and Expression® Web 4, and the main reason why Expression is so important to me is because it has the same feel and commands as Word 2003. Generally speaking, Expression Web 4 is like an expanded Word for typing HTML and CSS. Word and Expression are the absolute best; no similar programs even come close to being as useful. My choice of operating system is weighed by how well the OS supports Office 2003 and Expression Web 4, and at present only Windows® XP fully supports Office 2003. (I may convince myself to only use Office 2010 when I upgrade to Windows 8.)

Office 2003 compatibility with Windows 7

Office 2003 is not fully compatible with Windows 7.

Office 2003 can load and run in Windows 7, but only at the cost of Office 2003 having the XP default blue color. If a person really really really likes blue and more blue, blue everywhere blue, blue Media Player 12, blue menu frames, blue program frames, blue boot screen, blue everywhere, a slew of blue, blue blue blue, then the person may love Office 2003 in Windows 7. For the rest of us, however, we have grown more than a little tired of blue. Windows 7 reminds me of the Windows Millennium user interface; more dainty and more blue than the previous versions. Windows 7 appears to be a good operating system, almost as good as XP for speed, but not so good for people who do not like blue.

Office 2003 Blues

One alternative is to use a classic theme in Windows 7, which then allows Office 2003 to have different colors and an appearance of Office 2000 within Windows 2000. Another alternative is to use a third party theme add-on which can leave Office 2003 in the classic theme while keeping the Aero styling in the Windows 7 user interface. The problems with add-ons, however, are that they are often buggy and they tend to slow Windows 7 down to a crawl. The best advantages of Word are that it is fast and stable, and it would be defeating the usefulness of Word if an add-on were installed that caused Word to run slow and unstable.

Another possible incompatibility problem is with video cards not being as well suited for text display in Windows 7. As an example, the display of characters on my computer is quite good in XP, but not quite as good in Windows 7 on the same computer. Much of the problem is with the video drivers being best refined for XP and not being as refined for Windows 7, but at present my only option for improving display quality would be to buy a newer video card at a cost of $100.00 or more. If my 1g RAM video card is not good enough for character display, then my concern is that I might have trouble finding a card that works any better. Is it worth $300.00 to $500.00 to run a blue Office 2003 in Windows 7?

Yes, Office 2003 is compatible with Windows 7 if you like blue and have the right hardware, but no Office 2003 is not compatible with Windows 7 if you want or need all of the features available in XP. If a person absolutely must use Windows 7, then I would recommend installing Office 2010 and accept the fact that Word and the other programs within Office 2010 will likely run a bit slower than what the person may be accustomed to. If a person does not have a need to upgrade to Windows 7, then I would recommend staying with XP a while longer. At present it appears that Windows 8 may have enough advantages to convince even we XP fans to upgrade, but will the advantages be good for Word and Office 2003? That's a project that I will be investigating in the near future.




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