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The new Office 365 licence system starts today

From today, 1 October 2018, Office 365 licencing rules change in a way Microsoft has never done before.  Redmond announced the change a few weeks ago but now we can see the new Office 365 licence rules working, with a few unanswered questions.

The change won’t affect your current Office software.  There’s no noticeable difference in Office for Windows/Mac today from yesterday.

We all have to change the way we think about Office licencing.  Instead of counting installations of Microsoft Office, count how many Office software logins you have.  It’s all part of making Office a service not  software.

It’s a big boost for Office 365 Personal which goes from 1 PC or Mac to 5 simultaneous uses.

Unlimited Installs

Office 365 Home/Personal/University customers can install Office for Windows or Mac on as many computers as they like.

Five Office logins at a time

While you can install Office on many computer, you’re only allowed to login from FIVE machines at any one time.

Microsoft is tracking the number of simultaneous logins you have per device.  That’s the logins shown at top right of each Office program.

Without a valid login (linked to a current Office 365 account) Office PC/Mac software will only work in a very limited ‘read only’ mode.

Use count is on a per device basis.  For example using Word and Outlook on a computer counts as one use, not two.

It’s a welcome change for developers and testers with virtual machines running Office.

This does NOT apply to Office for Apple or Android devices not the Office Mobile UWP apps for Windows 10.

How it works online

Microsoft has revised the subscription management web pages starting with a new web link at

The new Office 365 install management page is here.

Scroll down from the installs tab for a link to install Office.  Note the sentence “Use Office on up to 5 PCs or Macs”.

The ‘Get stuff done … ‘ paragraph is hype.  You can pickup work between devices but only for documents saved on cloud storage, most likely OneDrive.  Office settings synchronization is still a ‘work in progress’, not all settings are synced.

Deactivating an Office login

Further down the page is an important section listing your current Office PC/Mac installs in use.

The Deactivate option is important.  You might need to deactivate or remotely logout of Office so you can login to another without going over your ‘Five in use’ limit.

Offline Office questions?

We’ve asked Microsoft some questions about lengthy offline use of Office under the new licence conditions.  The company hasn’t responded to our questions.

See Can you work offline with the new Office 365 licence system.

We’ve had many Office Watch readers asking about offline use because they travel ‘off the beaten track’.  Maybe heading to the proverbial cabin in the woods or sailing the high seas?

Microsoft says that Office will fully work offline for 30 days, but counting from when?

Someone about to go offline would like to know they have a full 30 days of Office activation authorized.  There’s nothing in the Office software nor installs web page that indicates the ‘time to live’ of an Office login.

Absent a response from Microsoft, all we can suggest is signing out of Office and then sign back in again.  Hopefully that will be enough to ‘reset the clock’ for 30 days of full offline use.


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