This one is turning into a perennial favorite tip. The good news? You can still use an Office 365 Personal offer to add time to an existing Office 365 Home subscription.
So. Let’s step through this.
Did Microsoft ever crack down on that Personal to Home Office workaround you wrote about? Or does that still work?
My initial answer:
If you already have Office 365 Home and get a product key for Personal, you can use that to add 9 months to your existing subscription (up to five years out).
After a further exchange, I also found the Microsoft support page “What happens if I add another Office 365 for home subscription plan to my account?”, which confirms the first bit of my answer. But I have some more information that should flesh this out for everyone.
First, let’s be sure you understand the discussion. It goes like this: Many new PCs come with free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal. But Microsoft doesn’t let you have two Office 365 subscriptions attached to your Microsoft account. So if you have an existing Office 365 Home subscription, they let you use the Office 365 Personal offer to add 9 months to your existing Home subscription instead. This is a tremendous offer.
But things change. And it’s been a while since I received a new PC with an Office 365 Personal subscription offer. So as I told James, these things are rather hard for me to test individually, as I either have the offer to test, or I don’t.
Oddly enough, this past weekend, I was cleaning up—related to my ongoingEverything Must Go work—and was tossing old boxes and so on. And, go figure, I came across an Office 365 Personal subscription offer. I figured I must have used it, but it was worth testing, and sure enough, it worked. As before, you’re given the option to switch to a Personal subscription, which would be stupid, or to add 9 months to your existing Home subscription. Which I did.
So consider that bit tested and confirmed.
But I also mentioned a five-year limit. Where did that information come from?
In late November, another reader, Roger H., wrote in to tell me about the limit:
Did you know there is a maximum period that you can extend your subscription for Office 365 of 5 years? Just went to extend mine and was told I had to wait a year. Mine currently goes to Jan 23, 2021.
That’s interesting. My own subscription was just pushed out to February 26, 2019, so I’m nowhere near the limit. But the good news is that you should be able to hold on to that key and use it in a year. I recommend putting a reminder in your calendar, with the key, so you can be sure not to forget.
And as I wrote to Roger:
No [I hadn’t known about the limit], but this isn’t something that’s easy to test, obviously. Mine goes several years out as well, and it’s possible you’ve just hit on the max, which would be five years I guess.
I did notice that on the Office 365 sales this week, they were advertised as “first year of subscription only.” I wonder if they’re cracking down on this.
In other words, what Microsoft doesn’t want is people collecting these codes when they find Office 365 Personal on a steep discount and then pushing out their Home subscriptions en masse. That said, can you imagine how many Office 365 Personal freebies are out in the world right now? It’s gotta be in the millions.