Ask LH: Can I Use An Office Home Premium Installation For Business?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a small business with one full-time employee and three part time. I have been considering upgrading our Microsoft Office installation. Looking at the newly released options, Office 365 Home Premium would suit us to a tee, but am I breaking the user agreement by using a home-based product in the work place? Thanks, Nervous Licensee

Dear NL,

It's easy to see why the Home Premium product is tempting: at $119 a year for five licences, you'd have enough for all your staff and only pay $24 a year per head for the privilege. Sadly (and as I suspect you already realise), the licence conditions for Home Premium state that it can only be used at home. In a single-person business, the truth is that nobody is ever likely to notice how you use the licence. However, with staff, there's always a chance that a disgruntled or naive employee will inadvertently dob you in. Whether you want to take that risk is your choice, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Presuming you want to stick with Office and upgrade, what are your alternatives? Office 365 Small Business Premium costs $13.50 a month, and includes email hosting and 25GB of storage for each user. For your business (four staff in total), that will cost $648. It includes extras you wouldn't get with Home Premium, but it's much more expensive.

If each of your employees has their own computer, then this still may end up a cheaper option. If you only have three machines (one for you, one for the full-timer, and one shared by the part-timer), another potential alternative is to purchase three outright Office Home And Business 2013 licences for $299 each. That will cost you more up front, but you'll be ahead after the second year.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    LibreOffice. Problem solved.

      Unfortunately for several industries LibreOffice isn't sufficient, and really only Office ensures 100% compatibility. Believe me, I've tried, and as much as I've wanted to love LibreOffice there have been too many headaches to persist.

    I am happy with Libre Office. It does everything I need it to do.

    Be aware that a lot of applications from Microsoft Partners require a full commercial version of the Office Suite, and some integrations will not work with the Home products. The Developers are bound to enforce these rules by their agreements with Microsoft.
    LibreOffice, OpenOffice etc will not normally work with this type Commercial or Business software

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