Microsoft Office for Windows RT: How to move to a commercial-use license

Microsoft's Office Home & Student 2013 RT, which is included for free with Windows-on-ARM devices, can be upgraded to a commercial-rights-usage license. Here's how.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Some wording in the fine print of the Microsoft Surface 2013 pre-order page, which went live on October 16, set off alarm bells for some users who are considering use the tablet/PC devices at work.

As we've known for a while, Windows RT devices, including Surface RT, will include a preview version of Office Home & Student 2013 RT, which will be upgradable to the final via Windows Update in early November. What many of us didn't fully realize when we first noted this was that the Home & Student RT version of Office isn't licensed for commercial use.

This version of Office -- which includes ARM versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote only, is "not for use in commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities. Commercial license options available (sold separately)."

What are these mysterious "commercial license options" about which Microsoft officials haven't officially spoken?

Twitter to the rescue! Thanks to one of my Twitter buds, @steveymacjr, found this Microsoft slide:

officeupgradefor RT

What this means is users who purchase Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office Midsize Business or Office 365 Enterprise -- i.e., one of the "New Office" deliverables coming in November; Office Standard/Professional Plus 2013; or have a volume licensing contract with Microsoft with commercial-use license coverage are able to use Office Home & Student 2013 RT devices at work with no problem. Note: There is not a different/more fully featured Office 2013 RT to which you can or should upgrade if you want to use a Office RT commercially. You need to have one of the aforementioned versions Office which include commercial-license coverage for a set number of PCs/tablets -- including those running Windows RT/Office RT .

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed this was the case in an e-mailed statement:

"While Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview and the final edition are not designed for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities as sold, organizations do have options for using the applications commercially – including purchasing commercial use rights or licensing any edition of the new Office with commercial use rights.”

The Office 2013 RT apps are very similar to, but not exactly the same as their Office 2013 counterparts, as they had to be built to run on ARM. They were built on the same code base as "regular" Office, but the RT apps had to be tweaked to meet the security and battery-life stipulations of ARM-based hardware.

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