Office 2019 licence can be revoked

Office 2019 is different in licencing and enforcement from earlier perpetual licence versions of Office.  Your Office 2019 could be cancelled if Microsoft decides it’s a pirated or illegal copy.

Software activation or authorization is now an ongoing process.  From time to time, Office 2019 and Office 365 checks with Microsoft to ensure the software can be legally used.

That’s a change in Office licence enforcement.  In the past, Office was activated after installation and the software would work fully. There were no ongoing licence checks.  Even if you bought an illegal licence, once activated, Office would continue to work even if Microsoft cancelled the licence.

Office 2019, using ‘Click to Run’ installation, allows Microsoft to deactivate an illegally licenced install of Office at any time in the future.

Legal purchasers should have nothing to worry about.  Still, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your purchase receipt in the unlikely case of a dispute.

Windows 10 licence checks

Windows 10 also does licence checks and that was a problem earlier this month.

Microsoft licencing servers broke down and some Windows 10 Pro computers were suddenly downgraded to Home. That’s because Windows 10 could not be authorized for the additional Pro features so it defaulted to the Home option.  Eventually the licencing servers were restored and the Pro computers got fully functionality back.

It shows that Microsoft can disable or downgrade a Windows or Office installation even after initial approval.

Good Review … for now

That means any positive reviews of a cheap Office 2019 licence need to be read with caution.  A review saying that someone installed and activated Office 2019 means little. It’s possible for Microsoft to disable that Office 2019 when they track down the illegal seller and licence keys used.   That’s assuming the review is real (many are fake).


Microsoft doesn’t appear to be revoking illegal Office 2019 licences.  If they started cancelling Office licences, there’s likely to be a backlash from affected customers.  Microsoft might decide to ‘turn a blind eye’ to some illegal licence uses rather than deal with PR troubles.

Microsoft needs to lift their game

Microsoft talks tough about illegal sales of their software and loves the occasional headline about the arrest or conviction for software theft.

It seems to be more talk than action. Just in the last few weeks has found blatantly illegal Office sales on both Ebay and Amazon.  We weren’t even looking for illegal sales, they appeared during searches or readers sent us links.

If we can find them, surely the anti-piracy team at Microsoft could detect them?  It would not take some fancy AI system, just a staffer tasked with checking the relevant sites every few days.  Of course, both Ebay and Amazon also need to take more action to prevent or stop illegal merchants.  Sadly it seems that even buying from an Amazon linked third-party merchant is no guarantee.

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