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Licensing is all about what you’re allowed to do with Microsoft Office for Mac after you’ve purchased it.

You may think, “I purchased it, therefore I can do anything with it that I choose!” That’s not true! The following information explains what you need to know about licensing.

Software is ‘licensed’ and not sold

Commercial software (software that you’ve purchased) is licensed to you. But the developer of the software still holds the “copyright” (taken from the Mac OS X dictionary):

The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

Think of licensing software as if you were purchasing a book, which is also copyrighted. When you purchase a book you are purchasing one copy to read for yourself. You have purchased the paper, the binding and the ink in that book but you have not purchased the content. The content is still owned by the author or publisher of the book. The purchase of your book does not allow you to make more copies of that book and give them away or sell them.

Likewise, when you purchase software you may be purchasing the box, the disc and other paperwork that accompanies that software but you have not purchase the copyright to use that software outside the End User License Agreement.

‘End User License Agreement’

The End User License Agreement or EULA (pronounced YOO-lah) is that long legal text that you see just before purchasing or installing your software. Quite often you’ll see a click-through EULA. Software publishers will include a click-through EULA in their installers and you must “click through” the EULA by selecting an item or clicking a button. This is usually a button that says “I Agree” or a checkbox that reads “I have read the terms of the license agreement”.

No one reads this stuff because it is full of dense text written by lawyers. It is not easy to read but by clicking through the EULA to install the software you are committing yourself to this agreement.

Read the EULA.

Contents of the EULA

Because Microsoft sells multiple versions of Office for Mac (Home & Student, Home & Business, Academic and Volume license), each version may have its own EULA. This is what you need to know about the basic Microsoft Office for Mac EULA.

  1. You are only allowed to install the software the number of times the EULA permits. If you purchase one license and that license says you may install it on one computer then that is your limit. Installing the software on more than one computer is illegal and is also known as “piracy”.
  2. You are not allowed to rent, lease or lend the software. Doing so is also an act of piracy because you are reselling copyrighted material.
  3. You are not allowed to publish the software for others to copy. This includes copying your installer and license key to a web site and allowing anyone else, whether you know him or not, to download and install the software. Again, this is piracy.

Home & Student version

Did you ever wonder why the Home & Student version of Office is less expensive and allows you to install it on more computers than the more expensive Home & Business version? The answer is in the name of the product itself.

This version of Microsoft Office for Mac is licensed for personal use within a household or by students. It is not licensed for commercial or business use. It can be used only for personal needs and not for business needs.

The Home & Student version is available as a license that comes with one product key to install on one computer or three product keys to install on up to three computers within a single household.

Home & Business version

This is the standard version of Microsoft Office for Mac that anyone may purchase. It can be used for both personal and business needs.

The Home & Business version is available as a license that comes with one product key to install on one computer or two product keys to install on up to two computers.


This is a reduced-priced version of the Home & Business version of Microsoft Office for Mac for students only. The general public does not have access to this version and it must be obtained through a licensed institution.

One license comes with one product key to install on one computer only.

Volume license

This license is for companies or institutions requiring five or more installations of Microsoft Office for Mac. The general public does not have access to this version and it must be obtained from Microsoft. For details about volume licensing see Microsoft’s How to Buy page.

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