Businesses can't use Office on Windows RT tablets!?

Summary:UPDATED: You'd think this would be a no-brainer, but the version of Office that coming on Windows RT-powered tablets expressly forbids its "use in commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities." It turns out you can only legally use it for business if you have an additional license for "Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office Midsize Business or Office 365 Enterprise."

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You can  use the version of Office 2013 that comes with Windows RT for business.... if you buy a license for another version.

One of the attractions of Windows RT tablets to business was to have been that it was coming with a baked-in version of Office 2013. And, so it will, it's just that you may, or may not, be able to use that edition for "commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities." Say what?

If sounded odd to me too, but Windows RT tablets will come with Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Microsoft expressly states that it is "not for use in commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities."

Microsoft has long formally held that its Home and Student versions were not licensed for business use. For example, Office Home and Student 2010 is licensed only for "non-commercial use for members of your household." 

The Windows 8 Pro tablets and Surface devices, with x86 processors, are meant for the mainstream IT market and will support a business version of Office 2013.. Still, Windows RT and Microsoft's ARM-powered Surface tablets , are meant to take on Android tables and iPads in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market. There has been no news of a "full" extra-cost Office suite for RT.

Wes Miller, research VP at Directions on Microsoft, speculated on Twitter that you'll, "need to subscribe to Office 365 or have a PC running Office 2013 to 'biz unlock' Office H&S on Windows RT." Simon Bisson, a freelance technology journalist and Windows 8 expert, believes, "If you have an Office 365 licence (say) with greater rights that covers multiple installs you are able to use it on H&S." 

What's the Gospel truth? It wasn't until Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet's top Microsoft reporter, did some digging that Microsoft finally clarified its position. Foley discovered that you can use Office RT for business if you also buy a license for Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office Midsize Business or Office 365 Enterprise. Otherwise, you're out of luck. 

While the mystery has been solved, it is odd that  on the very eve of Windows RT and Office RT's release Microsoft left its enterprise, small business, and non-profit customers confused as to whether or not they'll be able to legally use Office RT for business purposes. 

With a tip of the hat to Adrian Kingsley-Hughes and Mary Jo Foley for their help in reporting this story. Updated with information found by Foley. 

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Topics: Enterprise Software, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets, Windows

About

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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