Business Microsoft 365 (Office Apps) no longer activates system wide

Since my workplace moved to Office 365 many years back, whichever computers the Office 365 desktop is installed on, the various Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc) were also accessible on any other Windows user account on the computer, although obviously without access to the workplace network. For example, on my laptop I’ve a Workplace account and a local account. Previously when I logged into the local account, I could use Word, Excel, etc. if I needed to edit something.

Since Microsoft changed the small business branding from Office 365 to Microsoft 365, they now restrict the Office licence to the workplace Windows account. When I launch Word on the computer’s local user account, this is what it now shows:

At first I thought it was just trying to get me to sign in to link my OneDrive, but nope. When I tried closing this, it showed this:

Unsurprisingly, cancelling this gives this:

I switched user account to my Workplace account and sure enough, it remains activated:

So far I haven’t come across any news about this, but thought I’ll mention in case anyone else has a laptop with a business Microsoft 365 Office installation and uses a local account for personal use. If the Office Apps still work, they probably won’t work for long, which I’ve no doubt is Microsoft closing this loophole. I also tried logging in with my personal Microsoft account on the local Windows account, but got a message saying this Microsoft account does not have an Office subscription.

Good info Sean.

I never liked the subscription model for software and don’t have one from Microsoft. My older copy of Office will keep me going from now on, I’m sure. The only thing I use in it is Word, and I don’t use it as often since I switched my main operating system to Mint. I do final polishing/formatting of manuscripts in Word, but that’s it.

Microsoft 's business software seems to be a big success for them among corporations, but I don’t see it working that well for the individual.

Thanks Sean

We are in the process right now of adding the Microsoft 365 Business to our workplace.

I did some further testing and the activation is based on the current signed in Microsoft account in Office. At first I thought it was paired to the Windows login account.

For example, on my workplace Windows account, I tried seeing what happens if I click “Sign out” at the top-right of Word. When I closed and reopened Word, it brought up the “Sign into set up Office” screen and when I tried closing this, the GUI menu greyed out and said that Word is not activated. Previously if I signed out, it would just act like a stand-alone version of Word with the option to sign in to access OneDrive and SharePoint sites. It used to remain activated linked to the original Microsoft account used to install Office. Now the activation is clearly linked to current sign in. Once I signed back in, the GUI icons all lit up again.

With the large number of people now working from home due to Covid-19, it’s quite possible Microsoft noticed a drop in personal Office subscriptions, particularly with those that added their workplace Windows login to their home PC, i.e. why buy Office if the workplace account provides Word, Excel, etc. on the personal Windows account on that PC.

I’m glad I never used Outlook for personal use over the years as that could have been awkward due to Microsoft’s proprietary PST format. However, I can imagine others using Outlook on their personal Windows account will be faced with either purchasing Office or finding a way to migrate to Thunderbird or something else. I’m not even sure if Thunderbird can even import e-mail from Outlook if it’s not activated.

For my occasional word processing or spreadsheet, LibreOffice should be fine. I’ve even managed to avoid Adobe’s paywall for at least 15 years. Back around 2004, I was fed up with Photoshop crashing in the middle of editing images (could have been the PC) and decided to try GIMP. I’m still using GIMP (+RawTherapee for RAW) today. Who knows what I’m missing out on Photoshop all these years (other than the accumulative cost), but I don’t care. :slight_smile:

My personal E-mail is still AOL since the days they were mailing out cd’s to everyone on Dial Up
I do have a gmail account also, that is only used at a couple places and connect on my Iphone

After mentioning this to a few people, someone told a workaround they use for their personal Windows logon. If the PC is shared (e.g. family PC), don’t try this with a shared Windows account or anyone else’s Windows account:

  1. In Word, log on with your Work e-mail address and choose for this App only.
  2. Go into File -> Office Account.
  3. Under Connected Services -> OneDrive - Personal, click “Connect”.
  4. Sign in with your personal Microsoft account.
  5. Click “Switch Account” and click your Microsoft account in the drop-down.

The work e-mail address must remain signed in, so don’t use this trick for anyone else’s Windows logon account as there’s nothing to stop that user from switching to your work account in the top-right dropdown to access your workplace files.