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

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

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63 comments
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  • Did anyone expect otherwise?

    Why did somebody expect that they would kill their own Office market? Offices buy Office. Why would they spend the extra money if they could just buy the cheaper tablet and get it for free. It would be stupid for Microsoft to make it otherwise.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • I laughed so hard

      that I almost fell off my chair. This makes the RT tablet largely unsuitable for business and enterprise, meaning that they will need to purchase the (far more) expensive tablet. Can you imagine the cry from MS shills if Apple had done the same with the iPad or if Google had done the same with Android?
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
      • It's business as usual.

        I was just reading from fans all the advantages the Surface RT had over the iPad. It came with Office which the iPad didn't and you can use it at work was one advantage.

        Apple doesn't charges a separate license to businesses that want to use iWork on their iPad.
        dave95.
        • How many Surface RT tablets will be returned

          because they will be wrongly bought by businesses?
          Wakemewhentrollsgone
          • Will you go on the record with your answer?

            Come on Restricted_access, I went on the record with how I feel about this. Go on the record and tell all of us how many Surface RT tablets you think will be returned because of this.

            0-999?
            1,000-9,999?
            10,000-99,999?
            More?

            I'm guess 0-999.
            toddbottom3
          • Businesses will be well aware of this restriction.

            I would be very surprised if microsoft didn't allow them to purchase a license that allowed businesses to use office on the surface.
            Sam Wagner
          • I agree that enterprise is likely to be aware

            but I am not so sure about small business.
            Wakemewhentrollsgone
          • Nor would small business normally care..

            Unlike larger enterprises, small businesses aren't generally subject to license audits from Microsoft.

            The restriction is there, but like most licenses, it really doesn't mean much if it's never going to be enforced. For smaller users, Microsoft generally turns a blind eye.
            daftkey
          • "It really doesn't mean much if it's never going to be enforced."

            Maybe true for the consumer or the student, but why would any small business take such a chance of it being enforced?
            dave95.
          • Same as they do now...

            "Maybe true for the consumer or the student, but why would any small business take such a chance of it being enforced?"

            Well, that will be their choice, just as it is today and has always been. As MJF already announced, Microsoft has a way that Small Businesses can license Office in order to be in compliance, however my guess is that most Mom and Pop operations, and even some with 5-10 employees probably won't worry any more than they do now (which is really not at all).

            As with all things, there is the theoretical risk (you are not in compliance = Microsoft can sue you), and then there is the practical risk (you are one of a hundred thousand small businesses using software outside of compliance, Microsoft is smarter than to waste resources trying to police smaller businesses just to piss off small customers for little to no return).
            daftkey
        • iWork on iPad is free?

          "Apple doesn't charges a separate license to businesses that want to use iWork on their iPad."

          Weird, I didn't think it was bundled with the iPad. I should go talk to Apple about getting my free copy of iWork because my iPad 2 certainly didn't come with it installed.

          In essence, even IF this licensing is to be interpreted this way:
          MS: home uses get Office for free and business users will have to pay extra.
          Apple: home uses have to pay extra and business users have to pay extra.

          One of these is better.

          "you can use it at work was one advantage."

          Let's just say that I'll be extremely surprised if MS doesn't publish a clarification to this to cover BYOD so that yes, you will be able to use this at work. But like I said above, Apple doesn't give ANYONE a free copy of their far inferior office suite. At least a large segment of the population gets the best mobile Office suite in the world for free with Surface RT.
          toddbottom3
          • Apple products are much cheaper

            Pages, Numbers and Keynote are less than $10 each, making a total cost of less than $30, assuming that a person buys all three. There is no way that a Surface Pro is going to only $30 more expensive than an iPad. As for the products, given the limiations of any tablet, Pages, Numbers and Keynote largely cover what likely to be required by most users.

            As for chosing to pay, MS users get to pay whether or not they want the Office product and whether or not they want all included components. iPad users get a choice.

            MS users, including you, keep hapring on about choice. There is no choice is not being able to buy a Surface whithout Office.
            Wakemewhentrollsgone
          • You make some poor assumptions

            "There is no way that a Surface Pro is going to only $30 more expensive than an iPad"

            You assume that
            a) MS won't clarify this to specifically allow BYOD
            b) MS won't clarify that EAs will cover Office on Windows RT
            c) MS won't allow small businesses to purchase licenses to cover Office Windows RT for far less than the additional cost of the Surface Pro

            "MS users get to pay whether or not they want the Office product and whether or not they want all included components. iPad users get a choice."

            My friend tried to get a refund on OS X and iLife when they bought a Mac. Apple refused. Apple users, including you, keep harping on about choice. There is no choice in not being able to buy a Mac without OS X and iLife.

            I WILL go on the record as saying that if MS specifically disallows RT to be used in a BYOD setting and states that Surface Pro is the only device that can be used in BYOD, that would be wrong. We'll see.
            toddbottom3
          • I do not believe you

            "My friend tried to get a refund on OS X and iLife when they bought a Mac. Apple refused. Apple users, including you, keep harping on about choice. There is no choice in not being able to buy a Mac without OS X and iLife."

            I am not saying that Apple would not give a refund in such a situation. But you saying "a friend" - I will simply call that part a lie.

            As for choice, I've do not discuss that issue. You do. I do not.
            Wakemewhentrollsgone
          • iWork for business?

            First of all, which business uses iWork as their main productivity suite?
            Kunal Nanda
          • Businesses using iWork...

            "First of all, which business uses iWork as their main productivity suite?"

            In most cases, these would be businesses that would be far under the radar to have to worry about the Student/Home licensing restrictions on Office.
            daftkey
          • iWork

            My company uses iWork as our main productivity suite. It works perfectly for us, cost $30 and is freaking fantastic. Keynote is amazing and our clients absolutely go crazy for our presentations. Pages is one of the best pieces of software I've ever used, beautiful and simple to use.
            Rob Shapiro
          • really....

            How many employees do they have and how many using iworks??, we had three thousands employees at my former company and about 1600 using laptops and computers maybe 1000 on excel and word, I don't think they would even look at iworks for a min
            gevabar
          • But does apple eula

            Offer a refund if you wish not to use the software ?

            BTW if i buy a HP or Acer desktop/laptop retail (best buy, amazon) they will fight you on refunding the windows license.. I gave up and just resell the license to others that want it.. It kind of brngs the price of the box cheaper.
            Anthony E
          • go with mac and good luck

            All business want excel and not iworks, its better and they can run it on all kinds of computers that they can afford, I worked for a company that has 3000 employees they are not going to buy them all Macs, never in a million yrs, but some will get surface Rt some surface pro some will get dell some think pads,, go luck to u but maybe mac is good to download a song but never for business..
            gevabar