OFF: Microsoft Office Licensing Policy

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The following information describes the licensing policy for Microsoft Office.

Please note that PSS is not responsible for this information. Microsoft Sales Information Center is responsible for this information, and customers that have licensing questions about any Microsoft application should be directed to them. However, the following Q&A provides a brief description of how Microsoft's licensing policies apply to Microsoft Office.

NOTE: Microsoft Access is included only with the Professional Edition of Microsoft Office.


1. Q. How is licensing for Office different from most other Microsoft

   A. In The Microsoft Office there is ONE license agreement that lists all
      four products in Office--Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Word,
      PowerPoint, and Mail. The entire Office is treated as a single
      license. It is NOT to be divided up, so that four different users can
      each use one of the Office programs all at the same time.

      Office is covered under concurrent use, but concurrent use should be
      measured by the number of users accessing ANY program in the Office.
      This means that when a user is using one component, such as Word,
      they have "checked out" the whole Office--Access, Word, Excel,
      PowerPoint, and Mail. For a specific example, if an account has
      signed a concurrent use agreement for 100 licenses, when one user is
      using Word there are only 99 licenses remaining. You cannot have a
      scenario where 100 people are using Word, another 100 people are
      using Excel, another 100 people are using PowerPoint and a different
      100 are using Mail. (Such a situation would require 400 Office

2. Q. Is Mail covered under the concurrent license clause as it applies to

   A. The Mail workstation is not licensed for concurrent use. For example,
      2 persons who each use mail cannot share ONE license by accessing
      their accounts at different times. Each person who uses mail needs to
      have a mail license. In an account with 200 users and 100 copies of
      Office, an additional 100 copies of the mail client need to be
      licensed for everyone to use mail.

Legal & Licensing - General Information

3. Q. What is "concurrent use"?

   A. Software is "in use" on a computer when it is installed into the
      permanent memory (typically a hard disk, but possibly CD-ROM, or
      other storage device), or loaded into the temporary memory, or "RAM."
      On a network, a product may be used in either of following ways:

         - By installing the product on the workstation's hard disk and
            running the software "locally"


         - By installing the product only on the network server and running
           the software "off the server." By running the product off the
           server, the network server loads a copy of the software into the
           temporary memory, or "RAM," of the workstation, but it is not
           stored in the workstation's permanent memory. This distinction
           is important later when we discuss how to count the number of
           licenses needed for a computer network.

      "Concurrent use" occurs when one copy of a software product is
      accessed from a network server and used by two or more nodes or
      "workstations" on that network. For example, a network of ten
      workstations would have five "concurrent users" of a product if, at
      any one time, a maximum of five workstations have the product loaded
      into temporary memory, and the remaining workstations do not have the
      product loaded into either temporary or permanent memory. Note that
      the identity of the five concurrent users may change over time, but
      in this example the maximum never exceeds five.

4. Q. Will concurrent users be charged a different price?

   A. The end-user license agreement allows concurrent use at no extra

5. Q. If I load the product on the hard disk of every workstation on the
      network, can I still count the number of concurrent users so I don't
      have to purchase a license for every workstation? Is the answer
      different if I use the so-called "electronic token" technology to
      limit the actual number of concurrent users?

   A. Loading the product onto the hard disk or other storage device of a
      workstation is a "use" that requires a license. It makes no
      difference if you have an "electronic token" system to regulate use.
      The only way you may have fewer licenses than workstations on a
      network is if some of the workstations access the product off the
      network server itself (i.e., the product is not stored on the
      workstation's hard disk), and you have determined that less than all
      such workstations use the product at any one time. Of course, if you
      transfer or "download" the product from the server to a workstation's
      hard disk--which requires one license--you may later completely
      delete the product off that hard disk to free that license for use

6. Q. How do I determine how many licenses I need for my company to comply
      with the Microsoft license agreement?

   A. Starting with the principle that you need one license for each use of
      the product, there are two basic rules that you need to follow in
      counting the number of "uses" of the product in your company. First,
      each copy of the product that is installed on a hard disk or other
      storage device of a computer is a "use" that requires one license.
      Second, if you will use the product on a computer network, and you
      will have fewer licenses than the total number of workstations, then
      you need to determine the maximum number of concurrent users of the
      product you will have at any one time. The total number of uses,
      arrived at by adding the number of concurrent users on a network,
      determines the number of licenses you need.

7. Q. Is the new Microsoft license a site license? If not, how do they

   A. The new Microsoft concurrent use license is not a site license
      because each use requires a separate license. In a "site license," a
      company is given unlimited rights to use a software product for a
      flat fee.


Article ID: 123761 - Last Review: August 15, 2005 - Revision: 2.1
  • Microsoft Office 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Office 4.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Office 4.3 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Office 95 Standard Edition
kbpolicy KB123761
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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