Ask Paul: Does the Office 365 Personal to Office 365 Home Workaround Still Exist?

Posted on December 12, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365 with 11 Comments

Ask Paul: Does the Office 365 Personal to Office 365 Home Workaround Still Exist?

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.

James asks:

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.

Second, I’ve written about this workaround in the past. Indeed, I’ve even covered it in a previous “Ask Paul” article.

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.


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Comments (11)

11 responses to “Ask Paul: Does the Office 365 Personal to Office 365 Home Workaround Still Exist?”

  1. 5456

    It also works well in Germany. Just added an Office 365 Personal key a few days back.

  2. 289

    After stacking up three insanely discounted Office 365 Personal codes from Newegg back in October, I finally did the conversion to Home a few hours ago-- using one of your earlier posts as a reference.  So I think I now have three years of Home for a grand total of $55.

  3. 5234

    When did the 9 months kick in?  You used to be able to get a whole year.

  4. 9129

    FYI xbox gold is limited to 3 years

  5. 5234

    Can we talk about this?:

    The number of countries that Skype supports for mobile calling via the Office 365 consumer packages has been drastically reduced over time, and the website explaining which countries are supported has a lot of misleading and contradictory information.

  6. 1309


    You could have at least used a picture of me scratching my head instead of that silly stock photo. ;)

  7. 2305

    @Paul, Can we convert Personal to Home??

  8. 3061

    Earlier this year I had two Personal codes (one from when I brought an HP Steam 11 and one from when they dropped the OneDrive storage).  I added them both to my account and then purchased a year of Home witch then gave me 3 years of Home.  I wonder if you can still do that...

  9. 699

    Great tip, Paul! Thanks as always.

  10. youngy

    Just tried to add a O365 Personal key to an existing O365 Home and get an 'internal server error'