I have a job interview coming up, and I've been told to brush up on using Visual Basic Applications in Excel. That would be fine, but I have no experience with the BASIC language. On top of this, my trial period for Microsoft office (2013) has expired, and I can't use Excel anymore. If at all possible, I would rather not spend €100 on an Office license for just one feature.

Are there any free alternatives to Excel that provide a spreadsheet like environment and allow for VBA programming?

  • You can try using amazon workspaces to use another office trial. It will cost you $25 for a month, and you can even pay hourly.
    – Roberto
    May 23, 2017 at 4:15
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    Unfortunately VBA is a Microsoft Proprietary language that only really works withing the Microsoft Applications and many of the methods are specific to the file type that you are working in. Can I suggest that your best use of your time before your interview would be browsing the eighty-one thousand plus Stack Overflow questions and their answers with the VBA tag stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/vba May 23, 2017 at 5:02
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    @SteveBarnes that is complete and utter BS. VBA is a specification and the VBE is hosted in hundreds of 3rd-party applications that aren't from Microsoft, including and not limited to CorelDRAW, Sage 300 ERP, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and many, many, many, MANY others. MS-Office is but the tip of the iceberg. You are confusing the object model of the host application with the language - they're two completely distinct things. Jun 8, 2017 at 16:26
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Basic_for_Applications Makes very interesting reading @Mat'sMug and it is not even completely implemented in 64 bit versions of Office 2010. I think you have far too many many's - however the OPs question was about VBA for Excel which will only run in Excel and tends to differ between versions of Excel let alone any other spreadsheet program. Jun 9, 2017 at 5:59

3 Answers 3


In Europe (not sure about USA), it is legal to resell software licenses. When PCs are scrapped, companies who buy them for spare parts also run some software which extracts license key numbers, which are then resold on eBay.

On Saturday, I picked up a license key for MS Office 2016 pro for US $2.35, and there were plenty more around that price mark.

Unfortunately, I am behind a company firewall and can’t access eBay, but you should have no problem finding something on http://ebay.co.uk

I have also used http://kinguin.net/ in the past, and still recommend checking them out, but eBay seems to be distinctly cheaper.

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    Thanks for this suggestion, this is exactly what I was looking for. I was sceptical at first, but I have everything installed now and VBA works fine for about €3. May 30, 2017 at 12:06
  • Glad it worked out for you. I was skeptical too, the first time out, but figured that the most I had to lose was Eur 3 (and my credit card details ;-) A pity that more folks don't know about this. Spread the word May 30, 2017 at 13:10

One mechanism that you could possibly use would be to install a Virtual Manchine, such as Virtual Box, download one of the windows test images at https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/ which will give you a 90 day expiry image of windows and on that download and install for a trial period the version of office that your prospective employer uses.

The images are specifically for software testing & you will be testing the VBA applications that you will be trying to write and you will be trying out the office software so while borderline this is does not strike me as completely unethical - but then again I am not a lawyer.


I found the best tutorial for this topic was through lynda.com: 3 hour tutorial, it assumes you know very basic programming already.

The alternative is to use google spreadsheets + googlescripts, which is based in javascript

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    I thought we recommend software – not assets or resources like howtos, manuals/tutorials, etc :) Apart from that: Does that Google-stuff use VBA, which is the main goal for the OP?
    – Izzy
    May 23, 2017 at 7:07

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