Get Office 2013 free for six months

(MoneyWatch) The newest version of Microsoft's (MSFT) Office software -- dubbed Office 2013 -- is available. And while reasonable people can debate the merits of whether to upgrade to the newest version of Office, the fact remains that many people will indeed step up.

Indeed, you might download the 30-day free trial from Microsoft's website or even get a free 30-day trial of Office 2013 with a new PC. If you want more time to evaluate Office 2013 before choosing to purchase, here's a way to get six whole months for free.

After all, 30 days is hardly enough time to decide whether a major productivity package like Office is right for you. Thankfully, Microsoft has a mechanism built into the Office trial that lets you extend the free time span up to five times, for a total of 180 days. Microsoft might not advertise this handy extension, but it's perfectly "legal." You won't get in trouble with Microsoft for exercising this option.

The How-To Geek explains how to reset the Office 2013 trial period. It's quite easy to do:

Open any Windows folder (i.e., Windows Explorer or File Explorer, depending upon which version of Windows you have).

In the address bar at the top, enter this: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform. If there's nothing there, try this path instead: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform.

Find and run OSPPREARM.EXE.

That's it -- you'll automatically get 30 more days to use Office free of charge. As I mentioned, you can do this up to five times, for a total of 180 days. And don't be late, because once the trial expires you can't bring it back to life.