Fix a broken Office 365 purchase

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You’ve bought your Office 365 ‘subscription’ from an online store – what can you do when it goes wrong?

Office Watch has said, many times, that it’s usually cheaper to buy Office 365 Personal or Home from a retailer.  Microsoft itself charges the highest prices and are best avoided for new and renewals of Office 365.

Other online retailers sell Office 365, sometimes for a better price.  But their delivery, especially online can be troublesome.  Here’s how to bypass the retailer and get Office running.

We’ve had various messages from Office Watch readers with fulfillment problems including today with OfficeWorks the large Australian office supplies chain which has (by the staffs own evidence) considerable and ongoing trouble delivering Office 365 online.

The common problem is the links to download Office software.  Too often they don’t work properly.   Don’t worry.  Despite what retailers and Microsoft say, it’s easy to work around that problem

Get the Product Key

What you really need is the Product Key – the 25 character code that opens up Office 365 to you.  It’s in the format  ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PQRST-UVWXY .

The online retailer should either display the Product Key on a web page or email it to you.

Once you have a valid, unique Product Key, you don’t need the online retailer anymore.  You can deal with Microsoft direct.

Register Office 365

Go to  and login using the Microsoft account you want as the primary Office 365 account holder (aka admin).  You can add other Microsoft account to share a Home subscription but you can’t change the primary Office 365 account holder.

On the My Account page it looks like this because your Microsoft account doesn’t have Office 365.

Click on ‘Enter your product key’ that will take you to this page.


Enter the Product Key that the retailer gave you and click Next.

Now you can confirm that the Microsoft account is correct and that the product key is for the correct Office 365 pack (ie Home or Personal).

Choose the preferred / main country and language.  You can change languages for other Office software downloads.

Get Office software

After clicking Next your Office 365 subscription should appear on the My Account page.

We say ‘should’ because there was an error on the My Account page when we tried it.  Logging out of the Microsoft account and log in again with the same account cleared the problem.

Now you have your Office 365 account!  Click Install to setup Office software.  Add other people to Share the subscription.

The Automatic Renewal offer is a trap by Microsoft to fool you into paying more.  We’ve warned you about this before.

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