How to Install and Use Microsoft Office on Linux
The most widely used office productivity suite in the world is Microsoft Office. It doesn’t matter if your PC runs Windows 10 or macOS, it’s likely that you’re using Microsoft Office. If you’re not, you have a colleague who is.
But your PC runs Linux. How on earth are you going to install Microsoft Office, and use it without running into problems?
You have three straightforward options, which we’ll look at in turn.
How to Install Microsoft Office on Linux
You have three ways to run Microsoft’s industry-defining office software on a Linux computer:
- Use Office Online in a browser.
- Install Microsoft Office using PlayOnLinux.
- Use Microsoft Office in a Windows virtual machine.
Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each in turn.
Option 1: Use Microsoft Office Online in a Browser
It might not be the full Microsoft Office, but what is made available via your browser is certainly good enough for a big chunk of office-based tasks. It’s an easy way to get started without paying for the full Microsoft Office suite.
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook can all be accessed via your browser and Microsoft account.
Is your copy of Microsoft Office via monthly subscription to Office 365? If so, you’ll also have access to the browser-based tools. This is an easy option that delivers some good productivity benefits to rival Google Docs or Sheets.
As the suite is browser based, it’s not going to be available offline. However, you can make things smoother by setting office.live.com as a desktop shortcut.
As useful as it is, this isn’t the full Microsoft Office. It’s just a browser-based alternative with a stripped-back collection of features. Though it’s useful in a pinch, it doesn’t do everything you expect.
Option 2: Install Microsoft Office Using PlayOnLinux
You can install Microsoft Office using Wine and PlayOnLinux. The following instructions are for Ubuntu, but you’ll be able to customize this for distros that use different package managers.
Installing Wine and PlayOnLinux
Begin by opening a terminal window and entering:
sudo apt install wine
Next, add a public key for the PlayOnLinux software that runs alongside Wine:
wget -q "http://deb.playonlinux.com/public.gpg" -O- | sudo apt-key add -
Follow this by adding PPA information to the package manager:
sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_precise.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list
Next, update and then install PlayOnLinux:
sudo apt update sudo apt install playonlinux
Note: If you want full fat “easy”, you can install Wine and PlayOnLinux via the software center.
Now, all you need to do is launch PlayOnLinux from Menu > Applications. Here, click on the Office tab, then select the appropriate Microsoft Office option.
However, with PlayOnLinux, you’re limited to Microsoft Office 2013 as the latest version (the 32-bit version, at best). For the best, most stable results, use Microsoft Office 2010. For this, you’ll need the disc (or ISO file) and a genuine key.
You’ll find the official download at microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/office, where you’ll need to enter the product key before you can download the suite.
Installing Microsoft Office on Ubuntu With PlayOnLinux
So, PlayOnLinux is ready. You have the right version of Microsoft Office. All that is needed now is to install Microsoft Office.
PlayOnLinux will prompt you to select a DVD-ROM or a setup file. Choose the appropriate option, then Next. If you’re using a setup file, you’ll need to browse to this.
Clicking Next will proceed with the installation, and once this is done, you’ll be ready to use Microsoft Office 2010. This is the latest version that can be installed without running into issues, although there are beta scripts for Microsoft Office 2013 and 2016.
Microsoft Office will run from the desktop without separately loading PlayOnLinux (although that will be running in the background).
If for some reason PlayOnLinux doesn’t work for you, you might also consider CrossOver. This is a paid tool with a free trial and can run later versions of Microsoft Office. At the time of writing Office 2016 is not fully supported by PlayOnLinux/Wine but runs in CrossOver.
Installation of CrossOver is more straightforward than PlayOnLinux, while installation of Office is along similar lines (there is a developmental connection between the two tools.
And yes, having Windows software running effortlessly on your Linux PC really is amazing, isn’t it? You’ll find that PlayOnLinux can support several other applications, as well as many Windows games.
It all makes for a seamless transition for any switchers looking to put Microsoft’s operating system behind them, but who are anxious about losing access to their favorite games, utilities and applications.
Option 3: Install Microsoft Office 365 in a VM
There is another option for anyone wishing to install Microsoft Office on their Linux computer. This isn’t as easy as the others, however, unless you’re already running a Windows virtual machine.
In this case, all you need to do is boot your virtual machine, sign into Windows, and install Microsoft Office. This will prove particularly useful if you wish to install Office 365, as this cannot be installed on Linux.
Get Microsoft Office on Linux Today!
Microsoft Office is not the most ideal option for running office tasks on Linux systems. However, if it’s what you need to get the job done, you have three good options for using it.
Yes, open source alternatives are best for most Linux office productivity tasks but installing Microsoft Office overcomes document compatibility problems. This can prove vital in meeting deadlines or accessing complex spreadsheets and databases.
But if you’re not keen on messing about with virtual machines or Wine, there is an alternative. LibreOffice ships with most Linux distributions, and there are many office alternatives for Linux.