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If you work for a company or organization you might be able to get Office 2007 Professional for use at home for less than $30.

A lesser known part of Microsoft’s volume licensing programs for large companies and organizations is the Home Use Program (HUP).

It’s so little known many companies don’t seem to know about it and let their staff take advantage of it.


How it works

Organizations that subscribe to Microsoft’s Software Assurance program (part of Volume Licensing) can allow employees to buy a special license to use MS Office on a home computer.

Each Office license bought with the Volume License is actually two licenses – the Office application for use in the organization plus a corresponding Home Use Program license.

In other words, the HUP involves no additional cost to a company (except a little time to setup the HUP in-house). The organization has already paid for HUP entitlements as part of the Volume License / Software Assurance agreement.


Which organizations?

Any organization that has signed up for Software Assurance can become part of the Home Use Program if they are in one of these Volume Licensing programs: Open License, Open Value, Open Value Company-wide, Open Value Subscription, Select License, Select License Software Assurance Membership, Enterprise Agreement, Enterprise Subscription Agreement, Campus Agreement or School Agreement.

Most small, medium and large companies fall into that category as well as non-profits, schools, colleges and government departments.


Which programs can I get?

Each Office program license bought by the company is linked to a ‘corresponding Home Use Program license’. It’s not a direct ‘one-for-one’ copy (e.g. a license for, say, Office 2007 Standard doesn’t mean you get a HUP license for the same Standard bundle).

Generally speaking, each license for an Office suite or individual program corresponds to a Home Use Program license for either:



  • Office 2007 Enterprise suite (contains 2007 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, Groove and Communicator).

  • Office for Mac 2004

  • Office for Mac 2008

That applies to individual program licenses too, for example a license for stand-alone Word 2007 qualifies for the much larger Enterprise suite HUP license.

In addition there are HUP options for the more specialized Office applications:



  • a license for SharePoint Designer comes with a HUP license as well.

  • a license for Visio Standard or Professional comes with a HUP license for Visio Professional.

  • a license for Project 2007 Standard or Professional comes with a HUP license for Project Standard

We say ‘generally’ because the exact rules can vary across the world. There are special arrangements for Campus and School volume licenses where the HUP only applies for faculty and staff – not students.

Your organization should check out the current situation with their Volume Licensing advisors.


Getting Started

The organization needs to activate the Home Use Program. Microsoft issues a code to the company which employees can use to access a special web site at Microsoft. From that site employees can get HUP licenses using the HUP code and their work email address.

In practice that means you ask your IT department about the Home Use Program – if it’s not available it might be time for some in-house lobbying. Below there are some arguments that you can use to support your push to get HUP in your company.


What do I pay?

The Home Use Program itself costs nothing to employees because the cost is built into the price of the original software license .

The only cost is the software media (CD/DVD) which is ordered by each employee from the HUP web site. The cost varies depending on your region but a price less than $30 is common. A company can reduce that price by buying a bulk lot of DVD’s for distribution to staff.

Office 2007 Professional officially retails for $500 or $330 for an upgrade (street prices around $400/$260) – so the HUP savings are considerable.

As Office Watch readers probably know – the important thing is the Product Key not the DVD. You can borrow or even copy an install DVD as long as you use your own Product Key during the installation and activation. Office 2007 Professional is available as a trial download from Microsoft so you should be able to download the trial then use your HUP Product Key to convert the trial version.


What’s the catch?

The HUP license isn’t a perpetual software license like the one you’d buy in a store. A ‘normal’ license for Office has no time-limit.

Your right to use HUP software at home ends if:



  • you stop working for the organization (you resign or are sacked)

  • the organization’s Software Assurance contract ends and isn’t renewed.

Interestingly, the organization is NOT responsible for employee compliance with HUP use terms. According to Microsoft, the organization is only required to limit HUP access to eligible employees and inform staff if HUP entitlements have ended (ie when the employee leaves or SA ends).


Why is Microsoft doing this?

Why is Microsoft giving away Microsoft Office like this? As usual there are the official reasons given by Microsoft and the real reasons.

The official line is:

Increase employee efficiency. With this program, your employees can use the same Microsoft Office system software at home that they use at work. Increased familiarity with the programs helps employees be more productive on the job.

Reduce your IT burden. Home Use Program customers have found that there are fewer helpdesk calls when employees have the opportunity to improve their software skills at home. Employees also become familiar with new versions, and this can help lower the cost of deployment.

Enhance employee job satisfaction. The Home Use Program supports flexible work and commute options while also providing employees with significant savings on software.

Microsoft’s stated reasons have some validity but don’t tell the whole story. Microsoft offers the HUP for its own self-interest.

The Home Use Program started as an anti-piracy measure. A big problem for Microsoft and organizations is staff using software and product keys from the office to load up their home computers. The HUP is an effort to discourage this theft by making MS Office available at low price to employees.

The HUP extends the use of Microsoft Office so it becomes even more entrenched as the office suite of choice. Microsoft would prefer employees to have Office at home instead of OpenOffice etc.

Widespread use of the HUP inside a company gives Microsoft one more sales point when pushing for renewal of Software Assurance by an organization.


More info

Microsoft’s USA web site has a Home Use Program page though the FAQ page is a more useful summary of the HUP. In other countries check the local site for details.

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