Office 365 Gets Off to a Rough Start in the Windows Store

Posted on June 20, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface, Windows 10 with 23 Comments

Office 365 Gets Off to a Rough Start in the Windows Store

Those with an Office 365 subscription who buy a Surface Laptop may need to do a lot of work to set things right. We can chalk this one up to the perils of living on the bleeding edge. But Microsoft should do a better job of making this easier.

So let’s step through this.

As I noted yesterday in my Microsoft Surface Laptop First Impressions article, Surface Laptop customers receive a free year of Office 365 Personal. This isn’t unusual per se—many computers come with this bonus—but Surface Laptop, of course, also ships with Windows 10 S. And Windows 10 S cannot run the desktop Office 2016 applications that Microsoft provides with Office 365.

Microsoft’s solution to this problem is that it’s porting those Office 2016 desktop applications to the Windows Store using its Desktop Bridge (“Centennial”) technologies. They’re not ready for prime time yet, but with Surface Laptop now out in the world, Microsoft had to do something. So Office 365 Personal—and Office 365 Home—are available today in preview form in the Store.

When you sign-in to Surface Laptop for the first time, you will see tiles for Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and Excel 2016 in the Start menu (plus related tiles for Get Office, OneNote for Windows 10, and Skype). If you select the Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016, or Excel 2016 tile, the Windows Store app will launch and display the page for Office 365 Personal (Preview). Which makes sense, since you get this product for free with your Surface Laptop purchase.

The thing is, I have Office 365 Home, not Personal. No problem: You can search the Windows Store and find Office 365 Home, and then download and install the included applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, and Publisher 2016, in this case—as expected. (This wasn’t the case yesterday, as I wrote at the time. I assume Microsoft fixed something.)

But here’s the thing. I mentioned that Surface Laptop includes tiles for Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and Excel 2016 in your Start menu. After installing Office 365, I naturally tried to launch one of those apps, Word 2016, using the supplied tile.

But Word 2016 doesn’t launch. Instead, the Windows Store app launches and displays the page for Office 365 Personal (Preview).


Apparently, Microsoft hard-coded those tiles to the apps you get with Office 365 Personal only. So many users, who already have an Office 365 Home subscription, will likely be hung up on this.

I know, it doesn’t sound like a big deal. But with Microsoft selling Windows 10 S and its Surface Laptop on simplicity and elegance, this is weird gaff.

And for the rest of the planet who has Office 365 Personal or Home subscriptions and would like to use the Store versions of the Office 2016, you’re out of luck: Microsoft is artificially intercepting the links to those bundles if you’re not using Windows 10 S. So you can’t get them, sorry. At least not yet.

I assume those who upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro will be able to continue using the Store versions of the Office apps. But you know what? I could also picture Microsoft not getting that one right either.


Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (24)

24 responses to “Office 365 Gets Off to a Rough Start in the Windows Store”

  1. DrWindows

    I clicked on the "Get Office" tile in the start menu on my Surface Laptop and installed the apps from the store - i did not wonder if this is Home or Personal. The Apps installed correctly and the installations shows up in the list at my Office 365 Home Account. I think this is just an "optical error".

  2. Roger Ramjet

    I think the Surface Laptop, W10S thing was a shotgun wedding. This is just the sort of odd decision that Microsoft, which has more generally done a very good job recently, needs to abolish. I can't imagine the Surface team was too pleased. The justification for loading 10S on the SL always seemed tenuous, and it is clearly not ready with Apps, even from Microsoft and the rush jobs make this obvious.

    Stop forcing good products to be mules for something else. You will kill both.

    Second W10S is a compatibility break, absolutely it ought to be launched and used for a very considerable period, in, and only in, a controlled environment where all the workflows are known and thoroughly mapped and addressed by this new approach. You know, places like oh, K12 schools. Not sold straight into consumer markets where there are a gazillion scenarios (help me with banging head against door emoticon here).

    2 unnecessary fails in one sequence. Yeesh.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      MSFT may not care that much about its hardware. Even if MSFT could achieve Apple-like margins on hardware, that's about half MSFT's own historical margin on software.

      MSFT hardware is a marketing platform. As such, dumping Windows 10 S on the Surface laptop could be seen as acceptable.

      OTOH, I agree that MSFT is taking a big gamble on potentially annoying Surface laptop buyers who'd expect anything running Windows to run all their old software, the Windows RT problem all over again.

  3. Andrea Barbera

    What about Office 365 Business Premium accounts? I know most people would upgrade to Windows 10 Pro immediately, but geez Microsoft... What a classic mess.

  4. jgraebner

    On my SP4 running 10 Pro, I tried searching for "Office 365 Home" in the store, just out of curiosity. It actually found it, but when I open it, I get a message that says "The thing you're looking for isn't here". Looks to me like they are having some issues limiting availability only to 10S customers.

  5. Elton Saulsberry

    What Microsoft should do is make their Office WUP apps feature complete. Do they believe in this platform or not? If they don't why should anyone else? Why offer 10s if you can't even make your own products work on it?

  6. hrlngrv

    Could it be that none of the MSFT developers working on either Windows 10 S or Office have any interest themselves in using either Windows 10 S or Windows 10 S with the Office previews? That is, there could be an absolute lack of dog-fooding along with zero QA staff, so no one thinks through the glitches, and maybe MSFT fixes each glitch in sequence as users (the new, unpaid QA staff) are finally able to reach the next glitch?

  7. John Jackson

    "I could also picture Microsoft not getting that one right either."

    Really - you expect NASDAQ:MSFT to constantly **** up their principal offerings?

    (Granted ... history does tend to bear out your low expectation.)

  8. Waethorn

    If Microsoft has this much trouble with Project Centennial, is it any wonder why we aren't seeing far more desktop apps in the Windows Store?

    It's glaring how much functionality and/or compatibility is missing in Project Centennial over the stock App-V, which they should've used instead, for Office to be this far delayed. Companies have been using App-V for years without these kinds of problems.

  9. Watney

    For non-Laptop users, since the code is still Beta, maybe MSFT has cutoff access to the rest of the world.

  10. glenn8878

    Sounds like Microsoft did it right. It's our fault for trying premature technology, which they worked on for years.

  11. rameshthanikodi

    Well it seems like the problem is with the hard-coded tiles in the start menu specifically. They should get around to fixing that. I wonder though, why can't they just offer one "Office" download listing in the Store and then re-configure the suite accordingly based on the subscription after signing in during initial set-up?

  12. wright_is

    I tried searching in the store, both Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home pages just display the error code 0x8000FFFF

  13. jimchamplin

    Wait... why segregate the damn downloads when the code is identical?

    OHHHHHH THAT’S RIGHT. Microsoft absolutely needs the added complexity. It’s an institutional requirement.

  14. Haszan Baleegh

    This is so bad! My surface laptop is not running the free version of Office that should ship with the laptop OR the Office Home edition that I have linked to my account. Neither one is opening up. I just paid a major premium to go with this laptop. I will be taking this back to the store and asking them to fix it for me this weekend for sure.

Leave a Reply