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Try Office 2010 free for six months

Users can try out Office 2010 for 180 days instead of the usual 30, thanks to a little-known trick designed for corporate users.

The tool enables systems administrators to ‘re-arm’ the product’s 30-day grace period up to five times before they need to enter the product's activation key. Home users can take advantage of the same trick to get themselves a free six-month trial.

Microsoft confirmed that a short command documented on its TechNet support pages (opens in new tab), enables users to reset Office 2010’s activation timer before they need to enter the 25-character product key.

All they need to do is run a file called ospprearm.exe at the command prompt. By default, the file is found in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform.

The file can be run up to five times. If users reset the activation counter each time their 30-day trial period is about to elapse, they can extend their trial to a maximum of 180 days before they have to supply an activation key.

The reset feature isn’t a bug. Microsoft says it’s aimed at enterprise administrators, enabling them to create software images that they can use to deploy the operating system to a number of systems over a period of months.

The reset technique must be used on a full copy of Office 2010, rather than a time-limited trial, which comes with its own time-limited activation code which must be entered when first the software is first installed.

You'll find our in-depth review of Office 2010 here (opens in new tab). monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.