Microsoft's annual Laziness Tax on you

Everyone hates taxes, but most people pay Microsoft’s Laziness Tax every year.  Here’s how to avoid paying extra.

Office 365 annual tribute fee for the Home plan is US$99.99 but you can pay around $75 for renewals.  The difference of around $25 is Microsoft’s Laziness Tax.

It’s the extra you pay for buying direct from Microsoft for Office 365 new and renewals without shopping around for a better price.

Renewals too

You don’t have to renew direct with Microsoft.

Office 365 Home or Personal plans can be renewed by buying elsewhere and adding to your existing account.

Microsoft doesn’t like to mention this, because they make too much extra from their Laziness Tax.  It’s definitely allowed according to Microsoft’s own Terms and Conditions for Office 365.


Ever wondered why Microsoft pushes the Auto-Renewal option so hard?  If you haven’t turned Auto-Renewal on, you’ll see reminders all over the place, even on the Office software Account pane.

Auto-Renewal enforces the Laziness Tax.  Microsoft gets to charge you full price for Office 365 automatically.

Of course, Redmond doesn’t say that.  Instead, Microsoft says Auto-Renewal is a ‘convenience’ for customers.  Auto-Renewal might be convenient, but only really naïve people think that’s Microsoft’s main motivation.

See Automatic Renewals trap and how to take advantage to find out how to use Auto-Renewal to get an extra month of Office 365 each year.

How to save on Office 365

About 4-6 weeks before your Office 365 comes due, start shopping around.  Any reputable retailer will do.

  • The same plan as you already have: Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal
  • There’s no special renewal product. Buy the same Office 365 Home/Personal for both new and renewals.
  • It doesn’t have to be the same store as you bought Office 365 in the past but it does have to be in the same country.
  • Sometimes it’s cheaper to have the product physically delivered than getting electronically. Another reason for suggesting the 4-6 week advance time.

Office 365 Product Key

What you’re buying is an Office 365 Product Key, a unique 25 character code. Get that in the Office 365 card you buy in a store or download from an online store.

Either way, look for that Product Key.  It’s what you need to renew Office 365.

How to Renew

Once you have your Product Key, go to your Office 365 account at to add it to your Office 365 subscription.

Go to My Office Account | Manage Account | Services & subscriptions and look for ‘Have a prepaid card or code for Office 365 Home’.

Or try this link to the same page (but MS changes their web navigation so the link might not work anymore).

After confirming your Microsoft account, enter the product key to extend your Office 365 expiry date.

Office 2016: the real startup guide has a ‘Buying Office’ chapter devoted to saving money getting Office 365 or Office 2016.

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