When you buy Microsoft Office there’s no CD or DVD with the software to install. The vital thing you’re getting is the Product Key.
The Product Key is that the 25 character code which unlocks or activates the software. This applies to both Office 365 ‘subscriptions’ or single-purchase Microsoft Office packages.
The Product Key provides:
- Access to a Microsoft Office 365 plan for a certain time – usually a year. Register that Product Key with your Office 365 account to add that ‘subscription’ time. Once used, this type of Product Key is used up.
- Activation of Office perpetual licence/single purchase software. This type of key must be retained so you can reinstall the same software in future.
Trap: we’ve heard from too many people who’ve still got the CD/DVD but lost the Product Key. Lose the Product Key and you’ve effectively lost the software.
You can buy a valid Product Key from any reputable store.
Pirated / Illegal software
Some unscrupulous merchants sell Product Keys that don’t work. Most commonly it’s a valid Product Key which has been sold to many people and used beyond its licence limits.
Microsoft tracks the use of every Product Key. If it’s used more than the license allows, that Product Key will stop working and your software won’t be activated.
The activation process doesn’t tell you what the problem is. You must call Microsoft Support and they’ll tell you why the Product Key won’t work.