After much waiting, Microsoft has finally launched its most profitable software, MS Office, on its rival, Apple’s iPad. The suite includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. While reading and viewing can be done for free, users will require an Office 365 subscription if they want to create or edit a document. However, as it turns out, there’s a loophole in Microsoft’s activation mechanism – the process that helps Microsoft detect if licensed users are using its service.
As CNET reports, users who don’t have an Office 365 subscription too can enjoy all the premium features. Any user with an Office 365 subscription can let four other members access the account. So technically, you can have it installed on 5 different devices through one account. And this is all legal. However, if you have an iPad, it turns out, using the same credential, you can make use of all the premium features on more than 5 devices. There’s no limit, so you can use your credentials on any number of iPads and as of now, it will work just fine.
In other words, all it takes is for someone with a valid Office 365 account to log in to Word, Excel or any other Office app on iPad. Once that happens, the tablet is automatically authenticated for all Office apps and any future users, regardless of whether or not those users have paid for 365.
However, Microsoft is fully aware of this. Not only does it know, it actually tracks how many iPads are running the same account, but it hopes that users won’t indulge in such activities. “Similar to our commercial use rights, we do not strictly enforce the limit on tablet installations, but trust that our users respect and understand the device limits outlined in the EULA [end user rights agreement],” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET.
This piggybacking technique is not new and is very common to see in streaming services, such as HBO GO. Why risk indulging in such activities, when you can legally get a year access for free? Meanwhile, do you know anyone who is exploiting this loophole?Further reading: Microsoft, Office 365, Office for iPad