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Outlook alternatives with Home and Student edition

The Home and Student edition of Office 2007 doesn’t include Outlook – so what are your options for email, calendar etc once you install the Outlook-less bundle of Office 2007?

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The Home and Student edition of Office 2007 doesn't include Outlook - so what are your options for email, calendar etc once you install the Outlook-less bundle of Office 2007.

Using Outlook 2003

If you are upgrading from Office 2003 to Office 2007, there is the interesting possibility of using Outlook 2003 on a computer that otherwise runs Office 2007.

This is quite possible because Office is designed so that different versions of the core programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) should be able to co-exist on the same computer.

Only Outlook is limited to having a single version installed at any time (eg you can't have Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003 on the one Windows installation).

(disclaimer: we have not been able to fully test this because we don't have a copy of the Home and Student edition, so we'd love to hear from Office Watch readers who have tried it themselves.).

Have Office 2003 with Outlook 2003 on the computer. Then install Office 2007 and ensure that you choose the option to leave existing versions of Office on the computer.

  • Do NOT choose the Upgrade option when installing
  • Choose the Custom install option then the Upgrade tab to see various options.
    • Under 'Remove only the following applications' make sure that Outlook 2003 and Word 2003 are NOT marked for removal. Word 2003 is needed because it is normally used as the email editor for Outlook 2003.
  • If you want to keep all of Office 2003 just choose the 'Keep all Previous Versions' option.

Microsoft does not recommend running multiple versions of Office on the same machine but it is possible and the Office 2007 setup makes it easy to do. The main thing to keep in mind is to install the older version of Office first then the newer version (eg Office 2003 then Office 2007) - ensuring that the later installation is configured to leave older version/s of Office in place.

If you already have Office 2007 installed and want to put Outlook 2003 on that machine try this; install Outlook 2003 and, if possible, choose any 'Keep existing versions of Office' setup options. After the Outlook 2003 install, immediately run the Office 2007 installation again and use the Repair option.

It is not possible to use Outlook 2003 with Word 2007 as the email editor. Some smart hacker might figure out a way to do it, but it's certainly not supported nor recommended.

If Outlook 2003 can't find or start Word 2003 it will fall back to an internal email editor.

Use Outlook 2007

You'd think that instead of buying the Home and Student bundle it is better value to look for another Office 2007 package that includes Outlook plus whatever else you want, for example:

  • Office 2007 Basic, is only available when purchasing a new computer. Word 2007, Excel 2007 and Outlook 2007 only. Pricing on the Basic bundle varies because it's supposed to only be sold 'OEM' with a new computer - however a street price of around $150-$170 seems common.
  • Office 2007 Standard is available through retailers and with a new computer. Word 2007, Excel 2007, Powerpoint 2007 and Outlook 2007. Officially retails in the US for $399.95 or $239.95 as an upgrade but you should look to paying about $350 / $200 at any competitive retailer.

However the Office Watch feature "A cheaper option for Office 2007 Standard" shows that for home users it's often cheaper to 'top-up' the Home and Student edition with a separate Outlook 2007 licence.

Software alternatives

There are plenty of email client programs available, just some of them are:

  • Windows Live Mail - is a newer and better option than Outlook Express/Windows Mail. It looks similar to those programs and is also a free download from Microsoft. Despite the name, it will work with multiple email accounts (POP or IMAP) not just Windows Live Mail (aka Hotmail).
  • Outlook Express (Windows Mail in Windows Vista). This comes with any copy of Windows. Despite the name and some outward appearances Outlook Express isn't related to Outlook (ie most tips and all add-ins for Outlook don't apply to Outlook Express). On the plus side, Outlook Express/Windows Mail costs you no more and is widely known and supported.
  • Thunderbird is the open source email client from the same people who release Firefox. It's available as a free download.  Office Watch reader John L. tells us "Add-ons Lightning (calendar) and ChangeQuote make Thunderbird more viable as an alternative to Outlook."

That's just the tip of the email iceberg .. a search of the net will reveal all manner and type of email programs.

Online alternatives

Almost any email account will have a web interface as well (and if it doesn't you can use a service like however there are some (mostly) free services which are primarily designed to let you deal with email online.

  • Gmail - Google's famous email service isn't as popular with people as others, but has much to commend it. Over 7GB of storage is enough for even the most avid email user. There is support for POP and IMAP so you can use Gmail in conjunction with your choice of email client. Gmail has a feature to bring email in from other email account and send replies using a non-Gmail address. Google also has an online calendar that works with Gmail and a Task list (in their beta/Labs area).
  • Windows Live - a rebadging and update of Hotmail with 5GB of storage. Free at
  • Yahoo Mail - these days there are three versions of Yahoo mail, Classic, All-New and the subscription Mail Plus. Only the paid version allows POP access for email clients.

Online services are developing fast and change all the time. Microsoft especially is moving quickly in this area - so check out the latest offerings before making a choice.

Our choice of the online options is Gmail because it has the most open and flexible set of features. You can integrate Gmail with existing email accounts and/or auto-forward Gmail messages to other accounts so you don't need to change email addresses.

Our long-standing advice if relying on any online mail service is to have your own backup by using an email client. Not only does this store a copy of all your email on your computer, but it lets you work on your email if not connected to the Internet.

Article posted: Tuesday, 09 December 2008

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