MS Office: The joys of uninstalling the 2011 Trial

Posted on by Mike Evans

If, like me, you are tempted to download Microsoft's "free 30-day trial" of the Office 2011 suite you should beware. This was a big mistake and I regret it bitterly. On my MacBook Pro I have a copy of Office 2004 which is still in working order although I now seldom use it. I thought I had nothing to lose by trying Office 2011 so I downloaded and installed this very big and complex package. After trying it I decided not to buy and looked around for the "Uninstall Microsoft Office" application. No such beast, I'm sorry to say.

After Googling the problem I found this Microsoft Support article. At first glance Shakespeare springs to mind:

"Finger of birth-strangled babe 
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, 
Make the gruel thick and slab. 
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, 
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

Have you ever read a more depressing set of instructions in your life? While I could follow this multitude of steps I fear that somewhere along the way I will also delete files that are essential to the wellbeing of the old 2004 installation. There is no mention of how to safeguard a previous installation. So now I must decide whether to proceed as instructed and risk losing my older installation or just leave the 2011 files to gather dust.

None of this is very satisfactory. If I proceed, I could end up having to reinstall Office 2004 (where are those disks, by the way?). I cannot recollect experiencing this sort of problem with any Mac software in the past. Usually there is an uninstallation program; if not it's often a very simple task to run a program such as Clean App to identify the most likely candidate files for extermination.

Better still, why don't I just remove all the Microsoft stuff, 2011 and  2004, and just stick to iWork?

SOME HOURS LATER.... I have ploughed through the steps in the Microsoft Support article and Office 2011 appears to have been completely eradicated without damaging the previous 2004 installation - at least, I have verified that Word and Excel are ok; I don't care much about the others. So the situation is manageable though hardly ideal.

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