Can I use Microsoft Office 365 with Windows XP?

Tips for ensuring compatibility 

We all know that by now we shouldn’t be running Windows XP computers in our businesses anymore, not least of all because Microsoft have ended support. Despite that, Windows XP (a great operating system in its day) is still out there.

So here’s the question we often get when talking with clients about moving to Microsoft Office 365 – “Can I use Microsoft Office 365 with Windows XP?” Well the answer is a very qualified ‘maybe’.

The thing to remember here is that Microsoft Office 365 is a whole suite of products and services, so it really depends on which of those products and services we’re talking about. So is Microsoft Office 365 compatible with Windows XP? Read on for more about which bits will work with Windows XP and which won’t.

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Exchange Online (Email)

Yes, this will work with Windows XP, mainly because it doesn’t actually run on your computer; this is one of those ‘cloud services’. What really matters more is how you access your Exchange mailbox from your computer.

Microsoft Office Desktop Applications

This is the software that you can actually install on your computer that comes with some of the Office 365 plans (known as Desktop Licensing). This includes the familiar Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Outlook applications that you’re likely already familiar with. This bit will not run on a Windows XP computer.

Given that Microsoft Outlook (the most common tool used to access Exchange email) is part of this package, and this won’t run on Windows XP, this point needs careful consideration.

If you absolutely have to keep your Windows XP machine for some reason, the compromise here would be to get a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 from somewhere, as this slightly older version will run on Windows XP, and can still connect to your Exchange mailbox.

Outlook Web App (Webmail)

You’ll be fine running this on a Windows XP machine, mainly because all you need is a web browser, and Windows XP supports a number of web browsers such as Internet Explorer and Google Chrome quite happily.

Again though there’s fine print. All of the Office 365 browser based applications are designed to work on the newest and latest versions of Internet Explorer, which right now means versions 10 and 11. Windows XP will only run version 8, and nothing since then. Now this doesn’t mean it won’t work with Office 365, it just means that it won’t be supported and may not function properly.

If this is the case for you, it may be worth testing out alternative browsers such as Google Chrome.


This is another one just like Exchange (above). This is actually a cloud service, and not something that runs on your computer, so you will be fine to access this from a Windows XP computer, as you will most likely be accessing it via a web browser (subject to the Internet Explorer version limitations mentioned above)

SharePoint actually has some great integration with Microsoft Office 2013, but unfortunately given that you can’t install Microsoft Office 2013 on a Windows XP machine (see above), so you won’t get that full integration experience, which in my opinion is pretty important.

Microsoft Office Online

This is the feature that lets you use simplified, web-browser based versions of the main Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel. Again being a browser-based thing, this will function just fine on Windows XP, dependent on what web browser you are using.

OneDrive for Business

No, OneDrive for business is not supported on Windows XP. OneDrive for business is a small application that you install on your computer to synchronise your files with the Office 365 cloud, and can be pretty handy for working with SharePoint document libraries, too, so not being able to run this component could be a complication for you.

Find out more about Windows XP for your business

So there you have it. Will Microsoft Office 365 work with Windows XP? The answer is a highly qualified ‘Maybe’. In most situations, it really is just a good justification to replace that old clunker of a Windows XP computer with something newer.

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