Microsoft business customers who pay for Microsoft's Software Assurance plans have had the option to make available discounted copies of Office for their employees to use at home. They've done so via a Software Assurance benefit called the Home Use Program (HUP). HUP is continuing, but it's in the midst of some big changes.
Thanks to a heads-up from the licensing experts at The Licensing School U.K., I recently learned about those coming HUP changes.
The current HUP Office benefit allows Software Assurance customers to buy Office 365 ProPlus (which is the the core set of Office apps for Windows, made available via an Office 365 subscription) or Office Professional Plus 2019/Office Home and Business 2019 (the non-subscription versions of Office for Windows/Mac for small-business users) for a discount. The discounted price for U.S. users is $14.99 for either of these options.
The updated HUP for Office option will allow business users to purchase Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscriptions at a 30 percent discount. To qualify, customers need to either have Software Assurance or a certain number of Office 365/Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licences (2,000 for commercial organizations and educational and nonprofit customers). There is a (buried) mention of an option to buy the non-subscription version of Office 2019 for a $14.99 on Microsoft's licensing page.)
There are a couple of other changes coming to the HUP Office program. Even if employees leave the companies that has the volume licensing/Software Assurance relationship with Microsoft, they will be able to continue to use their discounted Office 365 Home/Personal subscription as long as they keep paying for it.
IT administrators managing the HUP Program also no longer do so via the Volume License Service Center (VLSC) or Business Center Portal (BCP). Instead, Microsoft is directing them to the Microsoft Store for Business for this task. The HUP admin site on VLSC and www.microsofthup.com both ceased operation at the end of January in countries where the new HUP Office program already is available.
Microsoft has not yet launched the new HUP Office program in the U.S. A message on the U.S. site says "The new Microsoft Home Use Program will be launching in the U.S. soon. You're invited to come back in early 2019 and take advantage of this exclusive program." It's also not yet available in China, Japan, Russia, Hong Kong and a number of other countries.
I asked Microsoft about the reasons behind its various HUP Office program changes. A spokesperson said: "Customers have been asking for an Office HUP offering and these updates are meant to support those requests."
Update (February 13): I've heard (second-hand) that Microsoft may be planning to totally drop the ability to buy the perpetual/non-subscription version of Office under the HUP starting on July 1, 2019, which is the start of fiscal 2020. I doubt that will go over well, but it's not a surprising move given Microsoft is trying to get more Office users to go the subscription route.