OK so, this is a bit of a rant, so look away now if you can’t stand this sort of thing.
Here’s the thingy: last year some time I wanted to try out Office 365, so I partook of the free 30-day trial. Fine. All good. After 30 days I realized I didn’t use it that much, so I let the trial end and I didn’t pay up to keep it going.
Still fine. I’m sure I am one of a BAZILLION people to have done that.
Fast-forward a few months and I realised that actually, I do need Office, as my current installation is Office 2007 which doesn’t have certain features, etc. So I take advantage of a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal on the Microsoft Store, and I pick up a super-cheap Acer netbook for a ridiculous $159 that includes a free year of Office 365. All good. Except that last week when I tried to install said Office 365 on the Acer lappy, I got as far as the “choose your country and language” page in the installation process, and then I was left with a blank webpage in the setup process, with the Office logo. Nothing to click, nothing to do at all. Help.
An hour on the phone with Acer (after a chat room sesh with Microsoft who told me to call Acer) and all they could do was tell me to reset the laptop, reinstall Windows 10 (gulp) and a fresh install should help prompt the “free for a year Office” to kick in. But it didn’t, exactly the same thing happened. Basically, a waste of about three hours while Windows 10 reinstalled and synced everything across again. Ugh.
So I get back in touch with Microsoft, this time using an actual Product Key of Office 365 that I happened to grab from NewEgg.com for just $10 – another Cyber Monday special. A product key I intended to use, but hadn’t until this point.
But I ended up having the exact same installation issues, even if I went through the usual install-Office-channels via Microsoft’s own weblinks.
So I go back to Microsoft in a chat room and explain all of this. The friendly techie (Grace) decided the best thing to do (and it was) was to remotely connect to my laptop and have complete control over it, to see what the H was up with everything.
The long and the short of it is this:
If you take the free trial with your Microsoft account details, that account is then ‘locked’ to a particular version (or versions if they are more expensive) of Office 365. In other words, my Microsoft account – which is the lifeblood of my Windows Phones and my Outlook and OneDrive etc., etc. – could only be linked to a new install of Office 365 Home (or above) and not Office 365 Personal. The “free year of Office 365” that came with my laptop, and the Product Key I purchased from New Egg are both for Office 365 Personal, and as such, cannot be used with the same Microsoft account that I used when I took the trial of Office 365 Home. Again, in other words, it would appear that you can’t use your Microsoft account details to essentially ‘downgrade’ to a lower version of Office 365, no matter how you (or anyone at Microsoft Answer Desk) tries to slice it.
You need to open a brand new Microsoft account.
This is absolutely ridiculous. To ask someone (a long-time Microsoft/Windows/Windows Phone user), to essentially ditch their well-used and very familiar email address and start a brand new one just to make this work is close to preposterous in my view.
And I absolutely refuse to do it, even if it means I’m stuck using “Word Online”, or using Notepad (for crying out loud) for those Offline moments.
It’s part of the problem with so many different versions of essentially the same product; there’s going to inevitably be incompatibilities, but ones that simply frustrate people for no apparent reason. Why can’t Microsoft just totally saw off my Microsoft account from the old Office 365 Home trial, so I can install Personal, with a product key that I did actually pay for?
While I get that there are obviously reasons why Microsoft would want you to upgrade from the free trial (because it throws them a sweet $100), I just don’t understand the logic behind locking your Microsoft account to that trial’s version. The Microsoft Answer Desk techie said that this was really the only solution to avoid staying with Home and paying $100: to create a new Microsoft account so that Personal could be installed using the new details. No, no, and thrice, NO.
Microsoft, please don’t treat your fans this way. It sends a crazy and disrespectful message. I want to use your products, but boy oh boy, you are making it very hard for me to actually do so.
My situation has been escalated to “Tech Engineers Level 2”, so I’ll update this post if and when there’s an update worth sharing.