Microsoft offering the Office 2013 Public Preview to customers only via a variety of Office 365 subscription services, some are grumbling that the company is making it too hard on those who wish to test just the new productivity suite. But Office 2013 is also available via a traditional MSI-based installer for those who subscribe to TechNet or MSDN. Update: Anyone can get it! Click here

Microsoft’s rationale for providing the Public Preview only through Office 365 subscriptions—which are free for the duration of the pre-release period, by the way—is self-serving but also sound. With this generation of Office, Microsoft is dramatically changing how it delivers its productivity software to consumers and businesses. And it has a good case for tying the desktop software to a subscription, especially if the generous licensing terms—you can install Office 2013 on up to five computers—are accompanied by a reasonable monthly fee (today’s Office 365 subscriptions start at $6 per month.)

By comingling the Public Preview versions of Office 365 and Office 2013 together, Microsoft is getting customers used to this type of software delivery and, of course, providing them with first-hand experience with their hosted Exchange (and, in some versions, SharePoint and Lync) services. This will be a revelation for many users, especially consumers.

But yes, I get it. You’re not interested. Perhaps you’re an IT pro who simply wants to evaluate the client software. Or you’re a developer who wishes to create “Agave”-based add-ins for the new Office. Or whatever. You just don’t want to sign-up for a pre-release service in order to get the Office preview.

In this case, you can in fact download and install Office using the same MSI-based installer that Microsoft’s been using for years. You just need to be a current member of MSDN or TechNet to do so during the Public Preview. (When Office 2013 is finalized, it will be made available via traditional means in addition to the new Click-To-Run and Office On Demand stuff.) In fact, if you’re on TechNet, you’ll find a number of related tools, including new versions of the Office deployment technologies.

Update: Anyone can get it! Click here

(Irony alert: To avoid testing a subscription service, you must be signed up for a different subscription service. Just saying.)

Not surprisingly, perhaps, this installer looks and works just like it did in Office 2010. You can pick and choose which Office applications and components to install, and so on. Here are some shots that show how this works.

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Once Office 2013 is installed, it also looks and works just like the Click-To-Run/Office On Demand versions you get from Office 365: It features the same flat, Metro-like user interface, even on Windows 7.

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Note: There are a few differences between the Office 365-delivered versions of Office 2013 and the traditional, MSI-based versions. The big one is that the latter does not allow you to run Outlook 2013 side-by-side with a previous Outlook version. If you use Click-To-Run, you can run Outlook side-by-side with a previous version.

In any event, if you’re not ready to move into the brave new world of Office As a Service, relax. You won’t have to.