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.