2013
07.01

As usual, don’t bother emailing or commenting with licensing questions. They will be deleted and ignored, no exceptions, and this includes you with your special situation.  Please ask you reseller – that’s why they exist.

As you may be aware, Windows RT (the OS installed on the Surface RT and a few other Windows tablets) comes with a copy of what is effectively (features, license-wise, and rights-wise) Office Home & Student 2013.

Office 2013 has a peculiar limitation because of its relatively low price: you cannot use it in the workplace.  To use Office Home & Student at work, it needs to be “upgraded” to a business version via a license purchase.  This isn’t actually a feature limitation – the versions of Word, Outlook (Windows 8.1 RT has Outlook), etc, all will connect to Exchange, Sharepoint, etc just fine without any upgrades.  What you need is an additional license … something you record that you’ve purchased for that device in a spread sheet (like we need more of those!).

Is there a way to mark a Windows RT device as licensed?  Nope.  I was about to write “Use a custom GPO to add a registry value” but I remembered that Windows RT cannot join a domain.  Is there a way to detect unlicensed machines?  Nope.  Can you stop end users connecting to services with their Windows RT … only if you put in networking measures (NAP, NAQ, etc) to actually prevent BYOD.

Ooooooookay then.  I guess Microsoft are pretty clear on this?  Ehhhhhh actually it’s quite the opposite.  When talking heads go on podcasts they’re saying things like “Surface RT is great in the office because you don’t need to buy additional expensive software like Office”.  That line isn’t uncommon from MSFT out in the world.

This reinforces or reminds a few things:

  • Never EVER listen to a Microsoft person when it comes to licensing Microsoft software.  If that person is allowed to talk to the public then they clearly do not work hands-on with Microsoft licensing policies (read the PUR to understand what I mean).  Taking that person’s word as policy will get you audited, stung, penalised, and fired.
  • Windows RT has no place in business.  It’s a consumer device.  In the long run it’ll be cheaper to buy an Atom tablet (yes, it’s not as powerful as a laptop, but it you want a laptop, buy a laptop instead of a tablet) + Office for business (that can also run other programs) than Surface RT + Office for business + other “paper"-based” licensing controls.
  • Microsoft licensing is a mess.  While things like Server and System Center are pretty easy (if you can’t count then may I suggest a career in drooling?) the new licensing that was added for Windows 8 is a complete and utter cluster-f**k – and yes, that is the official licensing term.

As usual, don’t bother emailing or commenting with licensing questions. They will be deleted and ignored, no exceptions, and this includes you with your special situation.  Please ask you reseller – that’s why they exist.

  1. Microsoft Licensing is a total minefield. I wish somebody at Microsoft would read this and take note.

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