Microsoft quietly has made a change to its Home Use Program (HUP) for its Software Assurance business customers. As some had expected when the company began revamping the HUP benefit earlier this year, Microsoft is dropping the ability to buy the non-subscription version of Office for a steeply discounted price. Microsoft instead is offering HUP customers the ability to buy Office 365 Home or Personal at a discount for home use.
In an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document about the program, Microsoft now notes:
"Microsoft is updating the Home Use Program to offer discounts on the latest and most up to date products such as Office 365, which is always up to date with premium versions of Office apps across all your devices. Office Professional Plus 2019 and Office Home and Business 2019 are no longer available as Home Use Program offers."
Up until this change was made as part of the July product terms, HUP Office benefit allowed Software Assurance customers to buy Office 365 ProPlus (which is 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 was $14.99 for either of these options.
The updated HUP for Office option enables 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 licenses (2,000 for commercial organizations and educational and nonprofit customers).
Further down in the FAQ, however, Microsoft notes that those who may already have squeezed in a discounted purchase of Office Pro Plus 2019 or Office 2019 can't get more of those. The FAQ says: "If you have already purchased Office Professional Plus 2019 or Office Home & Business 2019 at a discount through the Home Use Program you will still be eligible for the Office 365 Home Use Program offer."
As the Licensing School UK noted in a recent post, "You can still buy HUP licenses for Project and Visio, but licenses for the Office products to use at home are now covered by Office 365 Home or Personal subscriptions."
I'm not all that surprised Microsoft made this change, given it is trying to encourage customers to go with subscription plans, not "perpetual" versions of Office. But I've already heard from a couple folks they are none too happy about the new direction.