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Buying software without media

04/07/12

Buying software without media

Permalink 06:11:11 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles

In a word: don't. I have come upon several cases where problems have arisen and at best been harder and more expensive to resolve because no CD or DVD containing the installation files was available. Typically this happens with Microsoft Office. There are three ways this can come about.

  1. If you buy the Starter Edition with your new computer you will get a reduced functionality edition of Word and Excel that can be used for creating and editing documents. There is no installation kit included though so if your hard disk drive fails or you want to reinstall Windows to regain lost performance or recover from a virus you are stumped.

  2. If you buy Microsoft Office MLK, know that the acronym stands for MediaLess Kit i.e. a slightly cheaper license but with no software to install if a problem besets your computer in the perhaps 6 years you will use it for.
  3. If you click the link that is handily left on new computers to buy Microsoft Office online, you will benefit from their 'Click-to-Run' technology. Office Click-to-Run products use streaming technology that is similar to watching a video on the web where you can watch the first part of the video before the whole file is downloaded. Similarly, you can start using Office 2010 before the whole suite or product is downloaded when you use Office Click-to-Run. Therefore, the rest of Office 2010 may be downloaded in the background while you use one part of Office 2010.

    Office Click-to-Run products also use Microsoft virtualization technology that stores Office 2010 in virtualized application space (the Q: drive). This virtual space separates Office 2010 from the regular file system and from the other applications on your computer. This separation lets Office 2010 coexist together with any existing version of Office that is already installed on your computer.

    Although Click-to-Run does enable use a few minutes earlier than otherwise, and you do get the latest version of the software there is a downside: you don’t have any means of reinstallation if there is a problem and customization options are limited.

Note that you can buy a backup copy of Office on a DVD by visiting Microsoft. If you prefer to burn your own DVD then get a full download using the account from which you bought the software.

In conclusion, when buying software always assume you will need to reinstall it in a couple of years and prepare accordingly with activation keys and installation media you can hold in your hand.

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