Sharing an Office 365 rental cost

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Can friends share the cost of an Office 365 subscription/rental?

The Office 365 Home Premium has 5 copies Office (Windows or Mac) that can be shared among different people. Could friends pool their money and share the cost of a single Home Premium subscription?

Officially no … unless the friends lived in the same household.

The Office 365/Office 2013 licence says that an Office 365 Home Premium annual rental is “for use only by members of the same household as the licensed subscriber”. Clearly that means people living in the same house but it presumably include people living away from home temporarily.

There’s no definition of ‘household’ in the licence which is probably wise given the wide variations in what constitutes a ‘family’ or ‘household’ across the globe.

It might seem to be nit-picking but people do want to do the right thing and obey the rules.

All we can say is that there’s a ‘grey area’ in the Home Premium licence for situations like

  • Unrelated people sharing the same house for financial reasons.

  • Someone who normally lives in the house but is travelling

  • Student at college – assuming they don’t qualify for the low-cost academic version.

When talks about Office licencing it comes down to the gap between what is permitted by the software licence and what Microsoft can enforce. These days, installation and activation of Office software is enforced but, realistically, Microsoft has no way of knowing who is activating the software or what Office is being used for. Whether you wish to take advantage of that enforcement gap is up to you and your conscience.

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