Why Does Microsoft Make It So Hard?

on November 5, 2012
Reading Time: 1 minute

Surface with Excel (Microsoft)Are you planning to use a new Microsoft Surface for business? You might want to think again, at least if you are concerned about legal niceties.

At ZDnet, Windows guru Ed Bott examines the strangely complex  legalities of using Microsoft Office on Surface. Office 2013–at least its Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote applications–is part of the Surface’s Windows RT operating sustem. But the bundled software, Office Home & Student 2013 RT, prohibits use of the programs “for any non-profit, commercial, or other revenue-generating activity.” Which seems to mean that if I were writing this in Word on a surface, I would be violating the license.

It’s not as though you have a choice about the version of Office on your Surface. Office RT comes with it and is the only version that can be installed. (The forthcoming Surface Pro will support any Windows version of Office, but probably does not come with any Office software included.)

There are several ways out of this. If the Surface is owner by a company and if the company has an Office Volume License Agreement, the restrictions are waived. Same if you subscribe to a business version of Microsoft’s forthcoming Office 365 service, $150 a year for Small Business Premium, $20 per user per month for Office Professional Plus.

Bott says you are probably also in the clear if you own a fully licensed version of Office 2013 Professional and maybe Office 2013 Home & Student, although those products won’t ship for a couple of months.

Pages, Numbers,  and Keynote aren’t the greatest word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software in the world. But at least if you buy these iPad apps, for $10 apiece, you can use them for whatever you damn well please.