Microsoft has a better, smarter option for the telephone activation of Office 2021, Office 2019 or earlier versions of Office with a method nowhere near as painful or clumsy. All you need is a smartphone, iPhone or Android.
What is Microsoft software activation?
Software Activation happens after installing perpetual license Office such as Office 2021, Office 2019, Office 2016 or earlier. For ‘subscription’ Microsoft 365, activation happens regularly in the background.
Office checks with Microsoft’s servers to make sure you have a legal license. After installation, you’re asked to enter the 25-character Product Key that came with your purchase. The system then checks with Microsoft to see if the key is legitimate. Normally this happens quietly and quickly with no fuss.
Sometimes, the standard activation doesn’t work and you see a message like this or similar.
Your copy of Microsoft Office …… cannot be activated because the specified Product Key has already been activated the maximum number of times permitted for your software license as specified in the Microsoft Software License Terms. For details about the maximum allowed number of product activations, click Help, and then search for ‘Read the Microsoft Software License Terms’.
If you believe that you are setting this message in error, click Back and choose the telephone option. The telephone activation option will provide you the opportunity to speak to a support representative about activation issues.
That message isn’t entirely true. Telephone activation starts with an automated process that might give you activation without talking to a human.
The Telephone activation option
Telephone activation means calling a number in your area, pressing the phone keys to enter a long Installation ID then listen and write down a long Confirmation ID.
It’s cumbersome and time consuming. In other words, a right PITA.
When calling you’re taken through a series of automated questions, the common ‘phone tree’ / ‘Press 1 for Yes’ we’re all too familiar with.
We’ve discovered that Office activations can be given the option to ditch the call and try a web page instead.
Smarter, smartphone activation option
Call from a smartphone or what Microsoft calls an ‘internet enabled device’. If you’re given the web option, you’ll be sent an SMS message with a web link to the number you called from.
Click on that link to open a mobile friendly page to type in the Installation ID.
Click Submit and hopefully you’ll get a Confirmation ID. Copy that ID into the activation pane of Office (there are various ways to copy from a smartphone to computer) and you’ll be good to go.
Believe us, better to use this alternative telephone activation than trying to do it all by voice.
The eagle-eyed Xeno on Twitter has noticed a redesign of the smartphone activation pages. The actions haven’t changed, just an update to the look.