I’m always amused by the silly little controversies that Microsoft seems to find itself in. Yesterday, when Surface with Windows RT device sales started, eager buyers noticed an alarming little footnote about the bundled version of Office: It can only be used for non-commercial use, which apparently means the device is useless for business. Not so, says Microsoft.
The firm reached out to me last night (which isn’t as creepy as it sounds) to explain what’s happening. And let’s just say that this controversy—go figure—isn’t one.
But first, the background: If you visit the Microsoft Store online, currently the only place online from which you can preorder a Surface with Windows RT tablet, and view the Technical Specs for the product, you will notice a little footnote attached to the phrase “Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview.” It reads:
“Microsoft Home and Student 2013 RT Preview edition installed. Final Office Home & Student version will be installed via Windows Update when available (free download; ISP fees apply). Some features and programs unsupported. Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview and the final version are not for use in commercial, nonprofit, or revenue generating activities.”
(That emphasis is mine.)
Cue the freakouts. And the anti-Microsoft bloggers—here’s a completely random example—jumped right on this non-story in a bid to quell momentum for the Surface.
The thing is, Microsoft is aiming Windows RT, and thus Surface RT, at both consumers and businesses. And it has announced a coming management infrastructure for Windows RT in businesses. So how could this be true?
Sorry, that was a trick question. It isn’t true.
“I wanted to clarify Office on Windows RT devices for non-commercial use,” a Microsoft representative told me last night. “The answer on our site was incomplete. While Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview and the final edition are not designed for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities as sold, organizations do have options for using the applications commercially – including purchasing commercial use rights or licensing any edition of the new Office with commercial use rights.”
According to Microsoft, you will be able to obtain commercial use rights for Office RT via Office 365, Office Standard or Professional Plus 2013, a Commercial Use License (which will be detailed in the coming days), or through volume licensing. The way it was described to me is that you simply obtain a regular Office 2013 license and can then use Office 2013 on the RT tablet commercially.
In other words, nothing to see here. Sorry, haters.