Microsoft’s bundling of an Office 365 Personal subscription with Windows 8.1 with Bing on many low-end PCs and devices is a godsend to cash-strapped consumers, since it provides a full-year of Office 2013—a value of $69.99—for free. But here’s a secret: You can easily convert that Office 365 Personal subscription into an Office 365 Home subscription for just $9.99, a savings of at least $20.
At least $20. As you will see, it could save you a lot more than that.
But first a bit of background. The sudden onslaught of Office 365 Personal subscriptions is interesting on a number of levels, but it brings with it some questions. Some of which I can answer.
First, do these things stack? That is, if you buy two or more low-cost Windows devices and each comes with a free one-year of Office 365 Personal, can you stack them on a single account and thus extend the subscription out to two years, three years, or more? The answer is yes: I’ve stacked an Office 365 Personal subscription out three years this way, and each came with a low-cost PC.
Second, can you add an Office 365 Personal subscription to a Microsoft account that already has an Office 365 Home subscription? The answer is no. And what you see if you try will depend on whether the account is part of an Office 365 Home subscription—in which case you can leave and change to Personal, freeing up that Home license for someone else—or are the owner of the Home subscription. If it’s the latter, you will need to wait until the Home subscription runs out or simply use the Personal subscription with another Microsoft account.
And then there’s conversion. Can you convert an Office 365 Personal subscription to an Office 365 Home subscription?
The answer is yes, and you can do so quite cheaply, though Microsoft doesn’t document the process to my knowledge and may in fact close this loophole once it’s been broadly reported. I describe how to do it below, but before we get to that, here’s one other interesting and related question …
What if you stacked an Office 365 Personal subscription out some number of years: can you still cheaply and easily convert that subscription to Office 365 Home, and for the multi-year duration of the subscription?
Yes, you can. And I did just that this morning with the aforementioned Office 365 Personal subscription, which was due to expire in October 2017. For just $9.99, I was able to change that into an Office 365 Home subscription that likewise is now due to expire all the way in October 2017.
Visit the Microsoft Store online, sign-in with the same Microsoft account for which you have applied your Office 365 Personal subscription(s) and purchase a one-month auto-renew subscription to Office 365 Home. (Make sure you select the “1-month auto-renewal box” and do not leave “1-year auto-renewal” selected.) It costs $9.99, but is configured to auto-renew each month at a cost of $9.99 per month. Don’t worry, you only pay once: we’re going to turn off auto-renew.
Now, when you visit Office Online and navigate to the My Account page, you will see that your Office 365 Personal account has morphed into an Office 365 Home account, with the same expiration date as before, but with an additional month added on. (Remember, you just purchased an additional month, and these things stack.) I see it also added the payment method I used on the Microsoft Store.
Click “Turn off auto-renew.” In the screen that appears, click the “Turn off auto-renew” button.
Now, Office 365 Home will continue to work through the end of your subscription expiration, whatever the date may be. In my case, that’s an additional three years of Office 365 Home at a cost of just $9.99 (since the original Office 365 subscription was both free and stacked).
A few caveats.
Obviously, I’ve only tested this in the United States, so I’m not 100 percent sure it works everywhere, though I’d imagine it would. This tip seems to rely on the Microsoft account integration between the company’s online store (where you buy the Home subscription digitally) and Office Online, so I’m not sure if it works with Office 365 Home subscription key cards purchased elsewhere. All I can say is it works as described. At worst, it’s a $9.99 experiment that could save you lots of money. But yes, buyer beware.
Thanks to Darren Friedlein for the tip!
Tagged with Ask Paul