The new Home Use Program offers 30% discounts to employees of many organizations which have Volume Licence agreements with Software Assurance for Microsoft Office.
Here’s what we know about how the new Home Use Program works, the tricks and traps.
Office 365 plans with Home Use Program
Both retail Office 365 plans are available at the 30% discount under the Home Use Program.
Office 365 Personal (1 user with 5 Office logins)
Each user also gets the other Office 365 features most importantly, 1 Terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls to regular phones.
“Same, same but cheaper”
The Home Use Program is a discounted Office 365 price but otherwise the same. Office 365 Home or Personal for HUP is exactly the same features and rules as sold to the general public.
As they say in Thailand “Same, same but different”.
Office 365 prices with HUP
For US customers the Home Use Program 30% discount works out to:
Office 365 Home usually $99.99 Home Use Program price approx.. $69.99
Office 365 Personal $69.99 HUP price approx. $48.99
For European customers we know the exact prices (courtesy of an Office Watch reader who sent us a copy of the full HUP offer page) .
The 30% Home Use Program discount prices are:
Office 365 Home €99 Home Use Program price €69.30
Office 365 Personal €69 HUP price €48.30
Monthly Office 365 options
There are also monthly payment options (in Europe €10 per month for Office 365 Home, €7 pcm for Office 365 Personal).
Like other Office 365 monthly payment options, they are very bad value and only good for very short term uses.
Is the HUP worth it?
Overall, the Home Use Program offers excellent year-round discounts on Office 365 plans.
A 30% discount on Office 365 Home is a good year-round price but gets occasionally beaten by regular discounting. You’d have to spend a lot of time hunting for a better deal, and then not much better.
Office 365 Personal isn’t usually discounted by much and rarely, if ever, by 30%.
The Office 365 price trap
As with all Office 365 plans, there’s no price guarantee for future years.
At any time, Microsoft can change the Office 365 prices or what you get on each plan. They’ve already made both price and benefit changes to Office 365.
Home Use Program discounts on Office 365 are also subject to change. There’s one major part of the new HUP that we doubt will last …
Discount after leaving employment
The Office 365 plan discounts continue even after you leave the qualifying employment.
In the past, leaving the job meant you were supposed to stop using the HUP Office software. If the organization stopped paying for Software Assurance, they had to tell their staff to stop using the HUP Office software (though this wasn’t enforced).
It’s very interesting, if not downright strange, part of the new Home Use Program. But there’s no question that it’s real because it’s in the Microsoft Product Terms themselves:
” Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscriptions acquired through the Microsoft Home Use Program website may currently be renewed at the then current Microsoft Home Use Program price regardless of employment or Customer’s SAM coverage status “
Staff who have the HUP discounted Office 365 can get it for the foreseeable future, whether they still work for that organization or not. Even if the company drops Software Assurance (SAM), the already signed-up employees still get their HUP discount.
Why this unexpected largesse from Microsoft?
One of the points of the Home Use Program was to encourage staff loyalty, so the new terms go against that from an employers point-of-view.
The ongoing HUP discount is denying Microsoft money from more expensive renewals once someone leaves employment. It’s not like Microsoft to ‘leave money on the table’.
We don’t believe this part of the new Home Use Program will last.
It’ll apply for a few years until Microsoft has enough people signed up via the HUP, then the discounted renewals may become reliant on continued employment. If you don’t qualify for the cheap renewal, Microsoft can simply ‘flip a switch’ and charge full price for Office 365 renewal.
As one, even more cynical reader said:
“I expect it will be another “bait and switch” tactic, just like “unlimited” OneDrive space. They will do it for a few years to get people to switch to 365 from onetime payment HUP and then pull the rug out.”
Add to current Office 365 plan
The other change is that the Home Use Program is linked to your personal account, not a work email.
If you already have Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal, you can extend your current Office 365 plan with a Home Use Program discounted year.
Once purchased, an additional year is added to your existing subscription. The HUP discounted rate will apply at the annual renewal date, though we’d suggest checking very carefully that the HUP discount is used on renewal.
Buying multiple years at once
It’s possible to buy Office 365 Home or Personal retail for up to five years ahead. Some people do that if they find a very good, but still legal, retail price.
Can a HUP purchaser can buy multiple years at once? The FAQ is silent on that.
In other words, if someone qualifies for Home Use Program discount, can they buy more than one year’s worth of Office 365? Doing that would lock-in the HUP discount regardless of any future changes to Office 365 and the Home Use Program
If leaving a job and have the funds, it might be prudent to buy up to five years of Office 365 at the HUP discounted price, just to make sure the discount is confirmed.
We’d be interested to hear from any reader to tries to buy two or more HUP discounted years of Office 365 at the one time (or one year, then another a little time later). Will Microsoft’s system let you buy many years?