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OEM pre-installed Microsoft Office

My client has an Acer Aspire laptop, model 5532. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. She bought it Nov 2009. Warranty is expired.

The PC became very slow and corrupted, to the point I couldn't even install Windows 7 SP1 because of errors. Long story short, I re-installed the OS fresh from the recovery partition. Went OK.

Problem:
There is a trial version of MS Office Home and Student 2007 on the PC and it's asking for a software key. No surprise to me. Client, however, claims that when they bought this PC, it came with the Office and she didn't have to pay for any licences. "It just worked." I found it hard to believe, but before re-installing the OS, I did open Word for a second and it did not ask for a key or anything.

Questions:
Is it possible that Acer put some sort of OEM Office on a $300 laptop? If so, how would I put it back on? Who would provide support?
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detail_seeker
Asked:
detail_seeker
5 Solutions
 
als315Commented:
You can see what was installed there:
http://support.acer.com/acerpanam/notebook/2009/acer/aspire/Aspire5532/Aspire5532sp2.shtml
...
Microsoft® Works with Office Home and Student 2007 Trial
....
May be client bought office and forget it?
In 2011 there may be Office 2010 Starter installed, but not in 2009
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rindiCommented:
As far as know those trial OEM versions of Office keep on working, but with reduced functionality compared with a real Office, after the trial has expired. As most people don't need all those extra features their fine with that.
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Levi GwynCommented:
You can check to see if it's already activated by using these instructions:

http://www.ehow.com/how_5234233_activate-office.html

If it's not activated, you're probably out of luck but not out of the battle.  It is possible to call Microsoft and ask for a key.  It's a painful phone call but you can get issued a key that way if you explain the situation.
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SmightyCommented:
The Office Trial version normally lasts for 60 days. After that grace period it wants the user to activate it.
Afterwards it only displays the wonderful red line in the header of the window and the Message that it is not activated, but will work nonetheless.
If the user has activated the office with a key they bought and forgot about it, their bad.
If they've got a license with the computer they'd have to remember where they'd put the stuff...
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Not to be cold and heartless, but at the end of the day, it's the client's responsibility to keep track of all the documents that came with the computer, including product keys.  If they have one, they can enter it.  You have restored it to it's factory state - that's how it was.  If it had come with an activated version of Office, it would be there.  (OEMs, going back to AT LEAST 2003) didn't include Office with Keys preloaded - so if they had it working, it's because they got a key SOMEWHERE at some point.  Maybe a friend gave it to them illegally, maybe they misplaced the paperwork.  Either way, they had one.

In the future, I urge you to consider using disk2vhd to make a duplicate of the hard drive to large file on an external NTFS drive.  And/or replace the hard drive.  And/or clone the hard drive.  Any of the above would have allowed you (with more or less work, depending on the solution used) to go back and determine what she REALLY had.  They are also ALL much faster than manual backups and ensure you get EVERYTHING backed up so should the client complain, you can go back and recover whatever was "missed".
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detail_seekerAuthor Commented:
I purposely used up the 25 sessions with Word and Excel to see what happens after trial. At that point both programs would open a document, but I could not edit anything at all, not even type a single character.

Client mentioned they found a $125 charge from Best Buy shortly after the laptop purchase, so I think they really bought the license and forgot and then lost the key and receipt. You're right. Had I backed up the entire HDD image, I probably could have dug up that key from the depths of the registry, but oh well. I warned them plenty before the re-install, and they insisted it was pre-activated.

I showed the client OpenOffice and they seem OK with that. Aside from rich text formatting, they weren't using much of Word features anyway. It's amazing how many people pay for the whole MS office just to use the same thing they get in WordPad for free.

Thank you all for the great responses.
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