"I have a netbook with no optical drive. How can I install
Microsoft Office? A friend says I have to either buy Office as a
download from Microsoft or get an illegal download - don't like either
of those options.
" Charles C from Iowa among many have asked this question.
There are several options for installing software onto a computer
with no CD / DVD drive. We'll focus on Microsoft Office (as usual) but
the same techniques can be used for almost any programs.
All these suggestion boil down to a simple truth - you can copy the
contents of the Microsoft Office install disk to a folder which can be
accessed from the netbook.
We have plenty of other netbooks on Office tips in our feature: Using Office on Netbook computers
. Like this article, our feature was written on a netbook computer, so the advice is from hard personal experience.
Install disks are NOT that special
There was a time when install disks were specially made so you could
not copy them easily but those disks are rare these days. The
installation files for Microsoft Office can be copied just like other
What really matters is the Product Key that's supplied with your
purchase - it's that 25 character key which allows Microsoft Office to
work normally. See What happens if your product key is stolen?
USB memory stick
The easiest option is to copy the entire contents of the install CD
to a USB memory stick or portable drive then plug that 'key' into the
Make a folder on the USB drive called, for example, Office 2007 Standard install.
Then copy the whole CD/DVD (sub-folders and all) with the root folder
of the install disk copied to the new folder on the USB drive.
Office install disk copied to folder on removable drive
When you plug the USB drive into the netbook, navigate to the install
folder (ie what was the root folder of the original CD/DVD).
Double-click the setup program or right-click autorun and choose
Install. This will start the install process just as it would from the
Share a CD/DVD drive
On a Windows network, any drive can be shared and 'seen' across the network by other authorized computers.
Go to the desktop computer, right-click on the CD/DVD drive and
select Sharing (the exact menu wording depends on your version of
Windows) then share the drive with appropriate permissions.
On the netbook computer, go to the Network option on the Start menu.
Navigate to the desktop computer then the shared CD/DVD drive. You can
then see the contents of the install disk, click on setup or autorun (as
above) and the installation will begin.
Apple promoted a 'special' remote CD feature when they released the Macbook Air
It was hailed in many quarters as a wonderful innovation, despite the
fact that Windows users have been able to do the same thing for years.
Copy to netbook across the network
If setting up the CD/DVD as a network share doesn't suit, you can
simply copy the install disk contents to a new folder on a desktop hard
drive which is shared and accessible from the netbook.
On a Vista desktop machine the easiest option is copying to one of
the 'Public' folders then make sure those folders are shared with the
local network. The netbook computer can 'see' that shared folder on the
desktop machine and you can install from there.
Alternatively, copy from the desktop CD/DVD to the netbook computer.
Make some folders on the netbook shared with write permissions then open
Explorer on the desktop computer navigate to the shared folders on the
netbook. Copy the contents of the install CD/DVD from the desktop
computer to the shared folder on the netbook. Install from the netbook
Plug in a CD/DVD drive
There are plenty of cheap USB CD/DVD drives available which you can
buy to plug into your netbook. However, as you can see, there is usually
no need because you can access an optical drive from a desktop computer
via the local network.
In the olden days (ie a decade ago) if Microsoft Office had problems you'd have to dig out the install CD and reinstall.
For the last few versions of Office (Office 2007 and Office 2003 at
least) that's rarely necessary. When Office is installed a copy of the
key installation files is put in a hidden folder - if (when) Microsoft
Office has a little nervy an auto-repair system should start and restore
files from the source. Re-using the install disk is less common these
Article posted: Wednesday, 27 May 2009