Home Use Program, Office 365 renewal clarified, sort of

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What are Home Use Program (HUP) customers charged after the first year of discounted Office 365? If you dig deep enough into the fine-print it seems that the discount does apply for renewals, despite what Microsoft’s own checkout says!

The more we dig into the new Office Home Use Program, the more confusing and conflicting it becomes.  We’re obliged to many Office Watch readers who have told us their experiences with the new HUP.

If you buy Office 365 Home or Personal using the Home Use Program discount, the 30% off applies to the first year AND later renewals. For the moment, at least.

Discounted HUP Renewals or not?

On the one hand we have the Microsoft Licence agreement which is ambiguously worded.  It could mean renewals at full or discounted price depending on your interpretation of a single word ‘may’.

” 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 “

On the other hand, we have the FAQ’s which come with the Home Use Program.  They say:

“You will receive the same Home Use Program discount rate as your original purchase for as long as you renew your subscription.”

The gripping hand is the actual checkout when someone buys Office 365 Home or Personal at the Home Use Discount discount.  It’s quite clear that renewals are done at full price and quotes a specific price for the second year.

HUP discounted renewals or not?

Which is it?  Discounted HUP renewals or not.  The answer seems to be deep in the FAQ’s that have now been published.

“… you’ll see messaging in your cart during final checkout that indicates your subscription will be renewed at the full price. Please ignore this messaging. “

We’re told this is because of ‘system limitations’.  Which could be true because the Office 365 HUP offer might be the first time Microsoft has offered a renewal at less than full price. The back office systems haven’t yet caught up with discount renewals.

Office 365 Home Use Program is an ongoing discount

If you buy Office 365 Home or Personal via the HUP you’re entitled to the same 30% discount as year one.

That applies even if you leave employment or the organizations stops their Software Assurance agreement with Microsoft.

How to be sure

According to Microsoft, the HUP renewal discount is confirmed on the Services & Subscriptions page of your Office 365 account.  If that appears in your Office 365 account, we’d love to see an example, see below.

We strongly suggest checking that page to check for yourself.  (We recommend checking Office 365 renewals for everyone, with the HUP discount or not.)

What’s the catch?

There are two traps in the Office 365 Home Use Program that we can see.

The renewal discount only applies if the employee allows renewals at the HUP discounted rate either automatic renewing or manual via www.office.com/renew. If you cancel or fail to renew then the discount stops.

The other trap is a possibility for the future.  Microsoft may decide to limit the Home Use Program renewal discount in the years ahead (the licence wording has that leeway).

Cheap renewals for non-employees and lapsed volume licences is extremely generous by Redmond standards.  Some people might prefer the word ‘suspicious’ to ‘generous’.

Once enough people have signed up for Office 365 via the Home Use Program, we’d not be surprised to see the renewals conditions change.  Most likely, continued employment and a current volume licence could become a condition of HUP discounted renewal.

Which is just one reason why we strongly suggest making a note of the Office 365 renewal date and checking what you’ll be charged each year, before Microsoft takes your money.

Help understand the Home Use Program

As you can see, there’s a big gap between what Microsoft says about the HUP and what it does.  Much of our information about the Home Use Program comes from readers sharing screen shots or ‘Save to PDF’ of pages they see after qualifying for HUP.  Prices in different countries?  Can you purchase multiple years of Office 365 at HUP prices (perhaps returning to purchase a day or a week after the original HUP buy)? That’s detail not available to us.

Thanks to Carlos B, Pierre B, RS, Geoffrey G and others who asked us to even keep their initials out of it!

Please help Office Watch readers understand what’s really happening with the Home Use Program.  Send us images / PDF to [email protected] especially any confirmation of the discounted renewals in your Office 365 account status.

Your name is NOT published and kept completely confidential (the Office Watch policy for over two decades)


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