Q: Can I take advantage of my company’s licensing agreement with Microsoft to install a copy of Microsoft Office on my home computer?

A: If you’re thinking about installing a copy at home of a software application from work, you need to take licensing into consideration. Most people just want to install and use applications as they need them. The End User License Agreement (EULA) is a legally binding agreement that the user, or an organization on behalf of the user, must agree to in order to use the software.

I’m often asked if it’s possible to install Office on a home computer as well as the one at the office. You’ll be glad to know that Microsoft recognizes the value in making Office available to employees outside of the office environment. For example, Microsoft Office Outlook is a comprehensive personal information management application. If employees can use Outlook away from the office, it might improve their productivity in the office. Companies that invest in training employees to use Office applications have the opportunity for those employees to spend their own time practicing what they learned without taking away from office productivity. If certain requirements are met, companies can extend Office 2007 or Office 2003 to their employees through the Home Use Program.

The Home Use Program is available to companies that subscribe to Microsoft Volume License Services. Companies can activate the Home Use Program through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service portal. The Home User Edition is shipped on its own media for which there is a small fee. The licensee company is responsible for controlling who has access to the Home Use Program. It’s available only to current employees and only while the company is current in its Software Assurance program with Microsoft. Note that the licensee company isn’t responsible for any employee misuse of Office at home because users enter into a separate EULA with Microsoft even when they’re part of the Home Use Program.

The standard EULA is available to read on any workstation that has Office installed. To read it from any Office 2003 application or Outlook 2007, click Help, About to see a screen showing information about the currently installed product and a link to the EULA text. In Office 2007 applications with the Ribbon, click the Office button at the top left of the screen, then click the Options button. Select Resources, then click the About button. Figure 1 shows the Microsoft Word Options Resources screen with the About button. Figure 2 shows the About screen from an Outlook 2007 installation as part of Office 2007 Enterprise. Click View the Microsoft Software License Terms to open the EULA text in a separate window for reading or printing. Item 12 in the Office 2007 EULA reads as follows: “HOME USE RIGHTS SOFTWARE. You must be a ‘Home Use Rights User’ to use software marked as ‘Home Use Rights Edition.’ To be a Home Use Rights User, you must be both:

  • an employee of an organization that has a Microsoft Volume License agreement with Software Assurance, and
  • the user of a licensed copy of the software, or a product that includes the software, with active Software Assurance.”

The company’s Software Assurance administrator activates the Home Use Program through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Web site. The administrator then receives an access code for employees to download applications from http://hup.microsoft.com. Alternatively, the administrator can order special Office media for distribution to employees for home use.

More information about Microsoft licensing is available through https://licensing.microsoft.com/eLicense/L1033/Default.asp.