New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

Summary: Microsoft is replacing its Office Academic SKU with a new Office University one that it hopes will help curtail fraudulent use.


Whenever folks complain about how expensive Microsoft's Office suite is, someone inevitably points out that the academic version is only about under $100 (usually around $80). And if you're not a student... no worries. You can use someone else's ID to buy it.

Microsoft officials know this, too. To help thwart non-students from getting an undeserved  deal on the Academic SKU -- which includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, OneNote 2010, Outlook 2010, Publisher 2010, Access 2010, and Office Web Apps (the free, consumer-focused version of Microsoft’s Webified version of four of its Office apps) -- Microsoft is tightening the verification requirements.

On February 1, Microsoft quietly replaced the Office Professional Academic 2010 SKU with a new one called "Microsoft Office University 2010." The new SKU is for "higher-education" students and faculty only. "Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 is the recommended product for parents and families with K-12 students," according to a Microsoft frequently asked questions (FAQ) document. (There's a new comparable Office for Mac 2011 University SKU, too.)

C-FAX 1070 radio “Tech Talk” host Alan Perry is the one who alerted me to the new SKU, which Microsoft confirmed.

Office University 2010 includes the same point products as the former Academic Professional SKU. It costs $99 and can be installed on two PCs. But it has a new verification process, which works as follows, according to the FAQ:

Office University 2010 does not come with a product key. Your eligibility will be verified online before completing purchase. This product will not work without successful verification as you will not have a product key.

You will be required to verify your eligibility online to use this software. 1.Go to 2.Sign in with your Windows Live ID or create one using any email address. 3.Provide your school email address, sign-in ID, or international student identity card (ISIC).

Once you pass verification, the online site displays the product key.

"The big change is the validation process, as you’ll see on the big warning stickers on the packaging," said Perry. "Up to now, if you could persuade someone to sell you a copy, (even if you weren’t a student or faculty) it was yours to use. The change appears to be an effort to curtail the large number of ineligible people buying the Academic versions."

Microsoft plans to offer a similar Office University SKU as part of its next versions of Office for Windows and Mac, Perry said the Softies told him.

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

    They just make it more flexible in licencing, maybe offer subscribe option besides 365 that everyone can take advantage of.
    Kit Yeung
  • How about just charging a reasonable price for Office?

    Office is ridiculously expensive - especially after they dropped the upgrade versions. I live in Denmark, and here the English language Office Professional 2010 costs DKR 4,295 (about USD 760). That is more than the full retail Windows 7 Ultimate in English (DKR 2,165, USD 383). That is simply absurd. And no, the amputated Student & Home edition is not an option as I need Outlook. Home and Business might be for some - but I also need Access. Why do they have to make this absurd amount of SKUs anyway? They would sell a lot more copies if they tried charging a reasonable price - it's not like they can't afford it.
    • "charging a reasonable price for Office?"


      I have experienced the same you say... but in my field 3d design/animation. Im a 3d designer, i use Autodesk products sometimes, do you think they are cheap? no, they are more than $3000 each license.
      some people complain about it, and question why autodesk has this monopoly and has expensive software individuals cant buy.

      note, I'm not trying to argue with you, but sometimes I feel people wants "the best" for free or so much cheaper than it was valued, (i can see that since you clearly want the professional version of office since it has access and outlook. so you want an expensive version)

      so when i hear people like you i only think, why complain, why do you want this expensive software? or need so bad this software? why does people think only because they cant have it, it should be cheaper? why don't you look for an alternative?

      like I said, I'm not trying to argue, Im expressing what i think, that sometimes we have only 2 choices. 1. buy the software and if we cant 2. search for an alternative. and you should think and see whats the best for you, if you cant with 1, well you should go with 2.
      Emi Cyberschreiber
    • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

      @arknu What a pitty if you NEED M$Office! It's a monopoly. A lot of companies and customers like u are forced to use M$Office. Hey there are some alternatives, FOR FREE ! Libre/OpenOffice are very good ones. I use Google Docs, i love my Google Apps Cloud ^^ But i guess no match for you and your work!?

      Break up the M$ Monopoly! M$ is abusing the customers! Switch to MacOS, Linux and Office-Alternatives!
      • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

        Amen. I like MS products but I don't like the lock they have on the apps market.

        I had previously hoped that this Wintel monopoly would be a thing of the past by now as the upcoming generation, those graduating from Highschool now, would be very computer literate unlike my generation where only a few geeks knew about computers. Sadly it seems that the schools teach just Microsoft or just Apple (depending on the school and its hardware) and not simply computer software and hardware principals that would empower the individual to build their own and be free of any companies software lockdown.
      • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

        Is it just me or does anyone else laugh when they see posters refer to Microsoft as "M$" and then go on to recommend Apple?
    • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

      @arknu <br><br>@Watchmen247 is right. If you're gonna spend that much money then why give it to Redmond? They'll just use your little drop in the bucket (along with millions of other little drops in the bucket) to gouge somebody else.<br><br>Time to fight back against IT monopolies. Use alternatives whenever possible.
  • So what's changed

    This has been the verification process for years. I mean, there was still a SKU associated to the product, but I had to provide my school email address for mine, back in 2006 and again in 2008 for the new suite. It was just called Office 2003 or Office 2007 Professional instead of University. And there were student and teacher home editions for those non higher education individuals before.

    Seriously, what's different about this?
  • Just making the students life tougher (not really)

    Office isn???t that expansive, at school here I use CATIA and the licenses start around $10,000. But that???s not my point; my point is that is it really going to stop non-academic people from getting a cheaper Office? Maybe a little, it might prevent an alum from 5 years ago from walking in and buying it from the software store, but there will be work- arounds. What???s going to stop the student from getting the discs and writing down the activation code and giving it to his buddy who he got the software for? Also a 2 computer limit, is it going to be absolute, your computer crashes 3 times and you try to load MSO on your laptop a third time is it going to say tough luck need to go purchase another license or show that number to call and you put in all those numbers just to but in more numbers on the computer, annoying but not painfully harm. At the moment I don???t see a huge impact other than adding time to the process of buying and installing MSO on the student???s computer.
  • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

    THe home/student version sometimes can be bought as cheap as $79. even Microsoft was selling it that price. Sometimes its $150-$175. thats still cheap. Too many people expect free hand me downs. If you can't afford to buy software, then don't buy a pc. $79-$175 is chap for office for what it can do. Also there is always the starter version that comes pre-loaded on pcs that just find.
    • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification

      @ShqTth Piracy is not the only option for individuals and organizations with limited funds. There are plenty of good free proprietary and open-source software alternatives to Microsoft Office. Examples include:<br><br>o LibreOffice (office suite)<br>o OpenOffice (office suite)<br>o SoftMaker Office 2008 (office suite)<br>o Abiword and Gnumeric (word processor and spreadsheet)<br>o Sqlite and Sqlite Database Browser (database management system and front-end)
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Oracle's Negative Influence On Open Source Software

    This is more about Oracle buying Sun than anything else. With Open Office seen as less of a competitive Microsoft can shift back from protecting market share to maximizing revenue.

    I bought Office 2010 from They sell OEM products. It's even cheaper than the academic versions!
    • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

      @thirtysenses Thank you for your website, very helpful!
    • You do realize that those are illegal keys, right?


      Only MS can legally sell MS keys online without COA's.
      • RE: New Microsoft Office University product comes with tougher verification rules

        @keisman i think they do provide coa. I saw it from their FAQs.
        • They can claim anything they want; it does not make it legal...

          There are SO many sites selling illegal and grey market keys. Learn more about MS licensing - OEM keys generally can't be sold without accompanying physical product (computers or equivalent components). The only Microsoft products that can be reused or resold are retail products, and one generally can't find "amazing" bargains on retail. Good deals, sometimes, but nothing better. Physical address of licensekeyshop domain registrant is in Australia (took all of 1 min. to find), and the only contact is by email. They may say they are legit, but I would guess Microsoft and the other publishers would disagree!
  • Stupid move

    It's OK you can always download OPEN OFFICE it's totally free & you can use it as much as you want it , stupid Microshit!

  • False Description of Verification Process

    3.Provide your school email address, sign-in ID, or international student identity card (ISIC).

    Wrong. It should read:
    3.Provide your school email address (if your school appears in a drop-down list; otherwise give up and break the install disc since you can't return it after opening), sign-in ID, or international student identity card (ISIC).