Tag Archives: office

Office, Azure Active Directory, and mobile: the three pillars of Microsoft’s cloud

When Microsoft first announced Azure, at its PDC Conference in October 2008, I was not impressed. Here is the press release, if you fancy a look back. It was not so much the technology – though with hindsight Microsoft’s failure to offer plain old Windows VMs from the beginning was a mistake – but rather, the body language that was all wrong. After all, here is a company whose fortunes are built on supplying server and client operating systems and applications to businesses, and on a partner ecosystem that has grown up around reselling, installing and servicing those systems. How can it transition to a cloud model without cannibalising its own business and disrupting its own partners? In 2008 the message I heard was, “we’re doing this cloud thing because it is expected of us, but really we’d like you to keep buying Windows Server, SQL Server, Office and all the rest.”

Take-up was small, as far as anyone could tell, and the scene was set for Microsoft to be outflanked by Amazon for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and Google for cloud-based email and documents.

Those companies are formidable competitors; but Microsoft’s cloud story is working out better than I had expected. Although Azure sputtered in its early years, the company had some success with BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), which launched in the UK in 2009: hosted Exchange and SharePoint, mainly aimed at education and small businesses. In 2011 BPOS was reshaped into Office 365 and marketed strongly. Anyone who has managed Exchange, SharePoint and Active Directory knows that it can be arduous, thanks to complex installation, occasional tricky problems, and the challenge of backup and recovery in the event of disaster. Office 365 makes huge sense for many organisations, and is growing fast – “the fastest growing business in the history of the company,” according to Corporate VP of Windows Server and System Center Brad Anderson, speaking to the press last week.

Brad Anderson, Corporate VP for Windows Server and System Center

The attraction of Office 365 is that you can move users from on-premise Exchange almost seamlessly.

Then Azure changed. I date this from May 2011, when Scott Guthrie and others moved to work on Azure, which a year later offered a new user-friendly portal written in HTML5, and Windows Azure VMs and web sites. From that moment in 2012, Azure because a real competitor in cloud computing.

That is only two years ago, but Microsoft’s progress has been remarkable. Azure has been adding features almost as fast as Amazon Web Services (AWS – and I have not attempted to count), and although it is still behind AWS in some areas, it compensates with its excellent portal and integration with Visual Studio.

Now at TechEd Microsoft has made another wave of Azure announcements. A quick summary of the main ones:

  • Azure Files: SMB shared storage for Azure VMs, also accessible over the internet via a REST API. Think of it as a shared folder for VMs, simplifying things like having multiple web servers serve the same web site. Based on Azure storage.
  • Azure Site Recovery: based on Hyper-V Recovery Manager, which orchestrates replication and recovery across two datacenters, the new service adds the rather important feature of letting you use Azure itself as your space datacenter. This means anyone could use it, from small businesses to the big guys, provided all your servers are virtualised.
  • Azure RemoteApp: Remote Desktop Services in Azure, though currently only for individual apps, not full desktops
  • Antimalware for Azure: System Center Endpoint Protection for Azure VMs. There is also a partnership with Trend Micro for protecting Azure services.
  • Public IPs for individual VMs. If you are happy to handle the firewall aspect, you can now give a VM a public IP and access it without setting up an Azure endpoint.
  • IP Reservations: you get up to five IP addresses per subscription to assign to Azure services, ensuring that they stay the same even if you delete a service and add a new one back.
  • MSDN subscribers can use Windows 7 or 8.1 on Azure VMs, for development and test, the first time Microsoft has allows client Windows on Azure
  • General availability of ExpressRoute: fast network link to Azure without going over the internet
  • General availability of multiple site-to-site virtual network links, and inter-region virtual networks.
  • General availability of compute-intensive VMs, up to 16 cores and 112GB RAM
  • General availability of import/export service (ship data on physical storage to and from Azure)

There is more though. Those above are just a bunch of features, not a strategy. The strategy is based around Azure Active Directory (which everyone gets if they use Office 365, or you can set up separately), Office, and mobile.

Here is how this works. Azure Active Directory (AD), typically synchronised with on-premise active directory, is Microsoft’s cloud identity system which you can use for single sign-on and single point of control for Office 365, applications running on Azure, and cloud apps run by third-parties. Over 1200 software as a service apps support Azure AD, including Dropbox, Salesforce, Box, and even Google apps.

Azure AD is one of three components in what Microsoft calls its Enterprise Mobility Suite. The other two are InTune, cloud-based PC and device management, and Azure Rights Management.

InTune first. This is stepping up a gear in mobile device management, by getting the ability to deploy managed apps. A managed app is an app that is wrapped so it supports policy, such as the requirement that data can only be saved to a specified secure location. Think of it as a mobile container. iOS and Android will be supported first, with Office managed apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Mobile OWA (kind-of Outlook for iOS and Android, based on Outlook Web Access but delivered as a native app with offline support).

Businesses will be able to wrap their own applications as managed apps.

Microsoft is also adding Cordova support to Visual Studio. Cordova is the open source part of PhoneGap, for wrapping HTML and JavaScript apps as native. In other words, Visual Studio is now a cross-platform development tool, even without Xamarin. I have not seen details yet, but I imagine the WinJS library, also used for Windows 8 apps, will be part of the support; yes it works on other platforms.

Next, Azure Rights Management (RMS). This is a service which lets you encrypt and control usage of documents based on Azure AD users. It is not foolproof, but since the protection travels in the document itself, it offers some protection against data leaking out of the company when it finds its way onto mobile devices or pen drives and the like. Only a few applications are fully “enlightened”, which means they have native support form Azure RMS, but apparently 70% of more of business documents are Office or PDF, which means if you cover them, then you have good coverage already. Office for iOS is not yet “enlightened”, but apparently will be soon.

This gives Microsoft a three-point plan for mobile device management, covering the device, the applications, and the files themselves.

Which devices? iOS, Android and Windows; and my sense is that Microsoft is now serious about full support for iOS and Android (it has little choice).

Another announcement at TechEd today concerns SharePoint in Office 365 and OneDrive for Business (the client), which is getting file encryption.

What does this add up to? For businesses happy to continue in the Microsoft world, it seems to me a compelling offering for cloud and mobile.

A close look at Word for the iPad. What is included and what is missing?

I have been having a closer look at Word for iPad. This has limited features compared to Word for Windows or Mac, but how limited?


So far I am more impressed than disappointed. Here are some of the things that Word on the iPad does support:

Spell check with support for a range of languages including Catalan, Cherokee, two variants Chinese, Icelandic and many more.


Tabs including left, center, right and Decimal

Paragraph styles – with some limitations. There are a range of common styles built in, such as Normal, No Spacing, Heading 1, 2 and 3, Subtitle and so on. If you edit a document including a style not on the list, it will be formatted corrected and the style is preserved, but you cannot apply it to new text.

Text boxes. You can do crazy stuff with text boxes, like word-wrapping around angled text.


Dictionary. Select a word, hit Define, and a dictionary definition appears. You can manage dictionaries, which seem to be downloaded on demand.


Tables. People use tables for things like formatting minutes: speaker in left column, actions in right, and so on. They work fine in Word on iPad. You can insert a table, type in the cells, and select from numerous styles including invisible gridlines.


Track changes. You can review changes, make comments,suggest new text, approve changes made by others, and so on.


You can change the direction of text by 90°.

You can edit headers and footers.

You can insert page numbers in a variety of formats.

You can use multiple columns. You can insert page breaks and column breaks.

You can change page orientation from portrait to landscape.

Shapes are supported, and you can type text within a shape.


Text highlighting works.


Bulleted and numbered lists work as expected

Footnoting works.

Word count is available, with options like whether to include footnotes, plus character count with or without spaces.

Pictures: you can insert images, resize, stretch and rotate them (though I have not found a crop function) and apply various effects.

Overall, it is impressive, more than just a lightweight word processor.

What’s missing?

So what features are missing, compared to the desktop version? I am sure the list is long, but they may be mostly things you do not use.

One notable missing feature is format support. Desktop Word supports OpenDocument (.odt) and can edit the old binary .doc format as well as the newer .docx (Office Open XML). Word for iPad can only edit .docx. It can view and convert .doc, but cannot even view .odt. Nor can you do clever stuff like importing and editing a PDF. Here are a few more omissions:

  • No thesaurus.
  • No equation editor.
  • No character map for inserting symbols – you have to know the keyboard shortcut.
  • Paragraph formatting is far richer in desktop Word, and you have the ability to create and modify paragraph styles. One thing I find annoying in Word for iPad is the inability to set space above or below a paragraph (let me know if I have missed a feature)
  • Academic features like endnotes, cross-references, index, contents, table of figures, citations.
  • Watermarks
  • Image editing – but you can do this in a separate app on the iPad
  • Captions
  • Macros and Visual Basic for Applications
  • SmartArt
  • WordArt
  • Templates
  • Special characters (you need to know where to find them on the keyboard)
  • Printing – I guess this is more of an iPad problem

Office for iPad versus Office for Surface RT

If you have Microsoft’s Surface tablet, would you rather have the equivalent of Office for iPad, touch-friendly but cut-down, or the existing Office for Surface RT? I took a sample of opinion on Twitter and most said they would rather have Office for iPad. This is Office reworked for tablet use, touch friendly in a way that desktop Office will never be.


Then again, Office on Surface RT (VBA aside) is more or less full desktop Office and can meet needs where Office for iPad falls short.

If Microsoft is still serious about the “Metro” environment, it will need to do something similar as a Windows Store app. Matching the elegance and functionality of the iPad version will be a challenge.

I typed this on the iPad of course, using a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. I would not have wanted to do it with the on-screen keyboard alone. However for the final post, I moved it to Windows (via SkyDrive) in order to use Live Writer. Word on the Surface has a Blog template I could have used; another missing feature I guess.

Microsoft has exceeded expectations. This would sell well in the App Store, but you need an Office 365 subscription, making it either a significant annual cost, or a nice free bonus for those using Office 365 anyway, depending on how you look at it. The real target seems to be business users, for whom Office 365 plus Apple iPad (which they were using anyway) is now an attractive proposition.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduces Microsoft Office for iPad, talks up Azure Active Directory and Office 365 development

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced Office for iPad at an event in San Francisco. Office General Manager Julie White gave a demo of Word, Excel and Powerpoint on Apple’s tablet.


White made a point of the fidelity of Office documents in Microsoft’s app, as opposed to third party viewers.


Excel looks good with a special numeric input tool.


Office will be available immediately – well, from 11.00 Pacific Time today – and will be free for viewing, but require an Office 365 subscription for editing. I am not clear yet how that works out for someone who wants full Office for iPad, but does not want to use Office 365; perhaps they will have to create an account just for that purpose.

There was also a focus on Office 365 single sign-on from any device. This is Azure Active Directory, which has several key characteristics:

1. It is used by every Office 365 account.

2. It can be synchronised and/or federated with Active Directory on-premise. Active Directory handles identity and authentication for a large proportion of businesses, small and large, so this is a big deal.

3. Developers can write apps that use Azure Active Directory for authentication. These can be integrated with SharePoint in Office 365, or hosted on Azure as a separate web destination.

While this is not new, it seems to me significant since new cloud applications can integrate seamlessly with the directory already used by the business.

Microsoft already has some support for this in Visual Studio and elsewhere – check out Cloud Business Apps, for example – but it could do more to surface this and make it easy for developers. Nadella talked about SDK support for iOS and other devices.

Microsoft hardly mentioned Android at the event, even though it has a larger market share than iOS. That may be because of the iPad’s popularity in the enterprise, or does it show reluctance to support the platform of a bitter competitor?

Microsoft is late with Office for iPad; it should perhaps have done this two years ago, but was held back by wanting to keep Office as an exclusive for Windows tablets like Surface, as well as arguments with Apple over whether it should share subscription income (I do not know how that has been resolved).

There was also a brief introduction to the Enterprise Mobility Suite, which builds on existing products including Azure Active Directory, InTune (for device management) and Azure Rights Management to form a complete mobility management suite.

Nadella made a confident performance, Office for iPad looks good.

What is coming up at Build, Microsoft’s developer conference next week? Nadella said that we will hear about innovations in Windows, among other things. Following the difficulties Microsoft has had in marketing Windows 8, this will be watched with interest.

Office 2013 Home and Business requires a Microsoft account to activate, a nuisance for Office 365 users

A small business contacted me with a perplexing problem related to Office 2013 and Office 365. The scenario looks like this:

  • All their staff have Office 365 E1 accounts (for small and midsize businesses)
  • They normally buy laptops with Microsoft Office. That would normally be the OEM version or more recently the Product Key Card (PKC) equivalent. This is licensed only for the PC on which it is first installed.
  • Since they already have Office, purchasing the more expensive Office 365 subscription (£9.80 vs £5.20, or £55.20 extra per user per year) which includes desktop Office is poor value (update: see comments for more notes on this option).

With me so far? Now comes the moment when a new member of staff joins, for whom a new laptop is purchased. They buy with it the closest equivalent to the Office 2010 Product Key Card, which is Home and Business 2013, this guy:


Note the designation Home and Business, indicating that it is fine for business use.

Next, they set up the laptop for Office 365 and install their new Office 2013. Only there is a problem. Office Home and Business cannot be activated without a “Microsoft account”. You might think that an Office 365 subscription counts as a “Microsoft account” but it is the wrong kind: it is an “organizational” account in Microsoft’s jargon, which is a subtly different creature. The Office 2013 purchase is then tied in to some extent to that account.

Specifically, the normal way to install is to go to http://www.office.com/setup. When you do, you enter the supplied product key, following which the unavoidable next step is to sign in with a Microsoft account.

Another feature of Office Home and Business 2013 (again different from Office 2010) is that there is no way (that I know of) to install it other than via Click and Run, which uses application virtualisation. Personally I prefer the non-virtualised install, after experiencing problems with previous versions of Click and Run. Maybe these are fixed now, maybe not, but this choice has been removed.

You can also install from a DVD as discussed here, if you download the DVD image from Microsoft. Unfortunately this is still a click-to-run install, and still requires a Microsoft account. You can enter the product key when invited to activate, but the process will not complete without logging in online. If you sign into Office 365 instead, you get an error. I also spotted this message:


It says, “You’re currently signed in with an organizational account. To view or manage any consumer subscriptions you may have purchased, please sign in with your Microsoft account.” This intrigues me, since if you have purchased a perpetual product called “Home and Business” you might imagine that is it neither consumer, nor a subscription.

There are a couple of problems with the requirement for a Microsoft account. One is that the business does not want the employee to start using features like Skydrive which are attached to any Microsoft account other than Office 365. Another is that the employee may leave, and the laptop transferred to somebody new. With the old Office 2010 PKC, which did not require a hook to a Microsoft account, that was a smooth transition. Office is licensed for the laptop, not the individual. The new Office 2013 is still licensed only for one laptop, but also has some sort of relationship to an individual Microsoft account, which will be a nuisance if that person leaves the company.

You can overcome these problems by purchasing a volume license for Office 2013 instead. The ideal product is Office Professional Plus. You can install it without using click-to-run and it does not require a Microsoft account to activate. But you guessed: this costs more than double the cost of Home and Business 2013. The approximate ex-VAT cost in the UK is £150 for Home and Business, versus £375 for Professional Plus.

The dependency on a Microsoft account is not clear on Microsoft’s site. The specifications for Office Home and Business are here. It says:

Certain online functionality requires a Microsoft account.

True; but in this case the product cannot be activated at all without a Microsoft account. It is useless without it.

The workaround is to give in and create a Microsoft account just for the purpose of activating Office. Of course you need an email address for this, though apparently (taking this from the above referenced discussion) you can activate up to 10 Office 2013 installs with one Microsoft account.

Once activated, there is no problem that I am aware of with using the product with Office 365.

It is still messy, since that Office install is forever linked with the Microsoft account you use, even though it is intended for use with Office 365.

Taking a wider perspective, it also seems to be that there may be purchasers who want to use Microsoft Office in part because (unlike, say, Google apps) it does not require online sign-in. They may prefer not to have a Microsoft account. With Office 2010 that was easy, but not with this new edition, and I am not seeing this spelt out in the product descriptions. Once you get it home, you will spot this on the packaging:


Considering the complications of using Home and Business 2013 with Office 365, it looks like the best option is to upgrade to the Office 365 subscription type which includes desktop Office, but that is a heavy financial penalty for a business that has already purchased Office for all its laptops.

Microsoft financials: record revenue, signs of Windows 8 concern

Yesterday Microsoft released its financial figures for the last three months of 2012.

Quarter ending December 31st 2012 vs quarter ending December 31st 2011, $millions

Segment Revenue Change Profit Change
Client (Windows + Live) 5881 +1140 3296 +416
Server and Tools 5186 +171 2121 +409
Online 869 +85 -283 +176
Business (Office) 5691 -619 3565 -623
Entertainment and devices 3772 -466 596 +79

Although Microsoft reported record revenue, I do not consider these figures all that revealing. The transcript of the earnings call is more to the point. A few notable remarks from CFO Peter Klein and General Manager Investor Relations Chris Suh

  • 60 million Windows 8 licenses sold and 100 million apps downloaded. At 1.66 apps per license that shows lack of interest in the new Windows Store and raises suspicions that some of those sales may actually be downgraded to Windows 7. The remarks from Klein confirm that the new platform is off to a slow start:

It’s early days and an ambitious endeavor like this takes time. Together with our partners, we remain focused on fully delivering the promise of Windows 8.

While the number of apps in the Windows Store has quadrupled since launch, we clearly have more work to do. We need more rich, immersive apps that give users’ access to content that informs, entertains and inspires.

  • Suh states that Windows is selling better to businesses than consumers. Declining interest from consumers is obvious if you walk around a few retailers selling Windows PCs:

Within the x86 PC market, we saw similar trends to prior quarters, with emerging markets outperforming developed markets, and business outperforming consumer. The consumer segment was most impacted by the ecosystem transition, as demand exceeded the limited assortment of touch devices available.

  • System Center 18% revenue growth
  • SQL Server revenue 16% growth
  • Online revenue (this is Bing not Azure) up 11%
  • Windows Phone sales 4 times higher than last year
  • Skype calls up 59%

The company says little about Office 365 and Azure, but my perception is that both are growing fast though how significant they are versus traditional software license sales is less clear.

Trouble ahead? With Windows 8 struggling for acceptance, Office under threat from online and device alternatives, the games console business (overall not just Microsoft) probably in permanent decline, and Windows Phone not yet quite mainstream, you would think so. On the other hand, this is a company with a broad and deep product range and looking at the solid performance of the server products and continuing strength of Windows and Office in business, we may continue to be surprised at its resilience.

Colligo Briefcase: offline SharePoint for iPad and iPhone

I took a quick look at Colligo Briefcase, an offline SharePoint 2007 and 2010 client for the Apple iPad and iPhone. There is a free Lite version, limited to 50Mb and with cut-down features; Briefcase Pro which costs a modest $2.99; and Enterprise which adds centralized management.

SharePoint is a powerful collaboration platform, but Microsoft’s client support if you would rather not use a web browser is surprisingly poor. You are really meant to use Office, which of course does not exist on iOS, and even then the offline support is poor.

I used Briefcase Pro, which connected first time to my on-premise SharePoint server. I selected which lists and libraries to sync, and a few minutes later everything was available. Impressive. Better, in fact, than Microsoft’s own SharePoint Workspace on a PC; but that is not saying much.


Briefcase lets you easily preview Office documents. I am sure there are certain formatting or content types that do not work, but I found this effective for Word and Excel. OneNote is not supported for preview; a shame. I could not even get OneNote documents to open in OneNote on the iPad.


I confirmed that Briefcase works fine offline. In Airplane mode, I could still browse and preview documents.

I tried but was unable to connect to Microsoft’s SkyDrive. There may be a way. This would be useful, since Microsoft’s own SkyDrive app does not work offline.

My biggest concern with Briefcase is security. What if confidential documents are in SharePoint and the iPad or iPhone is stolen? Briefcase Enterprise has a remote wipe capability, but it is still a concern. You can set an additional PIN on the app:


More worrying though is how data can leak out of Briefcase into other locations. Imagine a user has an iPad and has agreed to Apple’s default settings for iCloud and Pages, the iPad word processor. In this mode, documents in Pages are automatically synched with iCloud.

Now the user wants to edit a Word document that is in Briefcase. She hits Open in … and selects Pages. Pages does not just open the document, it imports it. The user views or edits it in Pages. Now that document is sent to iCloud, and in due course will turn up on other iOS or Mac computers belonging to that user.

Another issue with Pages is that there is no easy way to get it back into SharePoint. Pages can use WebDAV, which should work, but must be configured separately. This may be why Colligo suggests Documents to Go. Supported apps have an Open in Briefcase option that enables upload.

The Enterprise edition of Briefcase lets administrators disable the Open in command to improve security. This is unfortunately necessary if you require any sort of security for SharePoint data accessed through Briefcase.

It is a shame there is no quick way to open a Briefcase document in the web browser. There is a Copy Link option, which you can paste into Safari, but you have to re-authenticate and it is not seamless.

A few niggles then; but given that most users will do more viewing than editing while on the go, Briefcase is an excellent and, for the Pro edition, low-cost way to use SharePoint offline.

Fixing Visual Basic for Applications code for 64-bit Microsoft Office

The first macro programming language in Microsoft Office was Basic, and it is still there in the forthcoming Office 2013. In fact, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) has been slightly updated, and reports itself as version 7.1 in the preview. The version is Office 2010 is 7.0.


Although it is embedded in Office, VBA is a powerful tool and there is not much that you cannot do. It is based on the same runtime that powers Visual Basic 6.0, the last version before the .NET revolution.

Visual Basic makes it easy to call the Windows API though the Declare statement. One implication though is that code written for 32-bit VBA may need revising to work in 64-bit Office, and I ran into this recently with some VBA code of my own.

Some existing Declare statements will work fine on both platforms, but Microsoft chose to force developers to review all of them by introducing a new PtrSafe attribute. The name of this attribute is dubious in that it does nothing to ensure pointer safety. In fact it does nothing at all other than to say to the compiler that the Declare works in 64-bit Office, whether or not it really does. Still, it means you have to add PtrSafe to all your Declares, the idea being that you check that they work. Without PtrSafe, the Declares will not execute in 64-bit Office.

The details of what to change are here. What that article does not mention though is that Microsoft has provided declarations for the most commonly used API declarations that work in both 32-bit and 64-bit VBA. The file is called Win32API_PtrSafe.txt and you can download it here. The file is too large to load into a single VBA module but you can use it to find the declarations that you need.

It can still be difficult to work out how to call some APIs. Note that if you get it wrong VBA and Office may crash. You are giving up the safety of VBA once you use these functions.

I have not yet seen Office running on ARM in Windows RT, but the rumour is that VBA is not supported. That is not surprising, since with VBA you can code pretty much any desktop application, if you don’t mind it running within Office, undermining Microsoft’s intention that only Windows Runtime (formerly known as Metro) apps can be installed on Windows RT.

Microsoft Office 2013 SkyDrive Pro in action, with offline documents

Microsoft Office 2013, combined with Office 365 or the new SharePoint, introduces SkyDrive Pro. This is an area where users can store documents online, similar to the public SkyDrive, but as part of an organization’s SharePoint site or Office 365 team site.

One features which I was glad to see is the ability to store documents offline in a special Explorer folder. These are kept synchronized with the online storage.

Here is how this works with my preview Office 365 account. I log in to the online portal, and click the SkyDrive option in the menu.


I see my SkyDrive files.


At top right is a SYNC hyperlink. Click that, and this sets up synchronization to a special Explorer folder, which in my case is called SkyDrive @ Office Next. This is not just a shortcut to a network location. The documents remain there if you are working offline.


This excellent feature seems to depend on a new client called SkyDrive Pro Preview which has an icon in the notification area and also shows up in Task Manager.


If the SkyDrive Pro client is not installed and you attempt to sync your online files, the bad old SharePoint Workspace shows up instead. The consumer SkyDrive client will not do. SharePoint Workspace also supports offline files, but does not integrate with Explorer and is prone to go wrong.

Now here is the puzzle. Microsoft loaned me a Samsung Slate with Office 2013 pre-installed, and this has SkyDrive Pro. However it also has SharePoint Workspace, and the associated Office Upload Center, which duly went into a sulk when trying to sync my SkyDrive Pro files.


Clicking Resolve and entering my login details did nothing. However, when I clicked on the SkyDrive Pro icon instead, I got the new-style Office sign-in, following which everything worked.


A few puzzles then. Is the SkyDrive Pro client really new, or it is just a new wrapper for the bad old SharePoint Workspace?

Further, it seems that Microsoft has not yet cracked the problem whereby users sign in, tick the “Keep me signed in” option, but still get asked to sign in repeatedly.

Office in Windows RT: not licensed for business use?

Journalist Jon Honeyball remarked on Twitter that the version of Microsoft Office in Windows RT, and therefore in the first Microsoft Surface Tablet, is Office Home and Student 2013.

I was sceptical, but it is there on the spec sheet [pdf]:


We already knew that Outlook is missing; but now it seems possible that Office in Windows RT is licensed only for non-commercial use. Here is the statement about Office 2010 Home and Student:

I own or work for a small business; can I use Office Home and Student 2010 at my work?

No. Office Home and Student 2010 is licensed only for non-commercial use for members of your household.

Such a restriction would blow so large a hole in the positioning of Windows RT as the ideal BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) for business that I am inclined to believe it will be changed for Office in Windows RT.

Then again, Office is a huge business for Microsoft and it is easy to hear the internal debate over this. “You cannot just give it away”.

Another possibility is that Microsoft will come up with some licensing deal which permits use of Office in Windows RT at work, for a suitably Enterprisey fee.

Update: Note that Microsoft has already announced a few things here about Windows RT licensing:

Windows RT Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Rights: When used as a companion of a Windows Software Assurance licensed PC, Windows RT will automatically receive extended VDA rights. These rights will provide access to a full VDI image running in the datacenter which will make Windows RT a great complementary tablet option for business customers.

Companion Device License: For customers who want to provide full flexibility for how employees access their corporate desktop across devices, we are introducing a new Companion Device License for Windows SA customers. For users of Windows Software Assurance licensed PCs this optional add-on will provide rights to access a corporate desktop either through VDI or Windows To Go on up to four personally owned devices.

This means that if you have a PC licensed with Windows Software Assurance, you can access a virtual desktop from Windows RT without further charge.

Generally, I believe Microsoft also allows you to use Remote Desktop into a physical client without an additional license, provided it is single-user. In other words, only one user at a time can use a physical Windows 7 installation, whether sitting at the machine or remotely.

None of these provisions covers Office on the client though. They are concerned only with remote desktop access of various kinds.