Microsoft Office Licensing

Yes, we know the world is steadily moving to online office applications like Google Apps or Office 365, but some huge percentage of computer users still need or use Microsoft Office. Here are some licensing tips for business owners:


  • You cannot use Office Home & Student in any commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities. Nor can it be used by schools or government agencies. It is only for non-commercial use by households. Don’t buy this for your business.
  • A “retail box” version of Office includes installation media and a license for installing Office on your “primary” computer and also on one “portable” computer. This is a carryover from when some folks had desktop PCs at their office and a laptop for traveling. These days it means you can install on 2 computers, as long as at least 1 of them is a laptop (and they can both be laptops), and as long as both are primarily used by the same person.
  • A “Product Key Card” (PKC) license only allows for installation on a single computer. That’s why it costs less than the retail license. And a PKC doesn’t come with installation media, you’ll need to download the installation media or buy a PC with an Office trial version preloaded.
  • The least expensive way to get Office is to bundle it with the purchase of a PC. So-called “OEM” licenses can add as little as $100 to the cost of a new computer, but be aware that these licenses can not be reinstalled on another computer, even if the original computer dies.
  • From the perspective of someone who handles software installation, support, and asset tracking, volume licensing is great. It enables everyone in an organization to be standardized on the same software suite and version, and use a common license, making computer imaging and swapping easier. Unfortunately even the least expensive volume license option (Office Standard) is about $90 more per seat than Office Home & Business, the suite that most small businesses use.

So what do we suggest? Depends on your own unique situation and needs, of course, but for most of our clients we use PKC licenses of Office Home & Business. At around $179 each it’s not much more than OEM, and offers the flexibility of transferring the license from one PC to another or installing on a PC that didn’t come with Office.

More Info

« Previous Post
Next Post »