Office 2016 – switching from perpetual licence to Office 365 subscription

How easy is it to switch from the one-time purchase/perpetual licence version of Office 2016 to the Office 365 annual payment / ‘subscription’ version?

You might think that the switch is no big deal but it’s not just about how you buy Office 2016.  The perpetual licence version is installed and run quite differently to the Office 365 release. One is the older .MSI install while Office 365 users have a ‘Click to Run’ install. It’s an important difference.

We tried out the switch-over and got a pleasant surprise.

It worked smoothly and with no change-over hassles we could see.  Here’s how:

  • Uninstall Office 2016 perpetual licence.
    • Your Office setting, including Outlook email and profile settings should remain on your computer.
  • Install Office 2016 for Office 365 subscribers. Only do that from the Microsoft web site.
    • Start up the new Office programs. They should retain the same settings.
    • Outlook should start with the previous email account setup and profiles.

We say ‘should’ only because we’re cautious or, as they say in America ‘Your mileage may vary’.


Have a backup before making any major change.  In particular, a note of your email settings (login, password, type of connection, port numbers etc).

Everyday Backups  is our complete guide to making backups in Windows and Office.

Keep your Office 2016 Product Key

Make sure you keep your Office 2016 Product Key, in case you need it in the future. If you lose the Product Key for a perpetual licence product, you’ve lost what you paid for.  The install files can be downloaded but the Key is unique and valuable.

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