Microsoft Office 365 Revisited – We ‘Rent’ Office 2013 Pro via Office 365 Home Premium

Love it or not, the Microsoft Office software suite is de rigueur for a majority of users, business users and students in particular. Some time ago, we analyzed Microsoft Office 365 and its integration with Office 2013 and questioned “should you upgrade?” For us, it turned out to be a no-brainer. Consider that we needed to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2013 for testing purposes and we faced two choices: 1) Spend up to $399.99 for the old-fashioned shrink-wrap version of Office 2013 Pro, or, alternately, use the newer download/keycode method; or 2) download and “rent” Office 2013 Pro via Office 365. We decided on the Office 365 Home Premium version that costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year for UP TO FIVE PCs and FIVE MOBILE DEVICES. Remember that Office 365 features what is comparable to the standalone Office 2013 Pro version and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher and OneNote, PLUS 60 free Skype minutes and 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage. Home Premium is the most basic version of Office 365 and there are other versions of Office 365 for Business that offer scalable advanced functionality for businesses and enterprises.

So, we took the (albeit inexpensive) plunge and plunked down our $99.99. Upon registration, we now had our very own Office 365 portal.

You manage and install your Office 365 installs from your account page. Mobile devices include Windows, Android, and iOS phones.

All easy, well and good. So, how did the installations work out? As shown in the screen capture above, installation on three PCs was easy and successful. The entire installation took less than 15 minutes each with a fast connection. The process also took care of cleaning up the traces of the Microsoft Office Preview that was found on both of these brand new PCs. However, if you already have any version of Office already installed on your PC, you must un-install it before you commence with the installation of Office 365 Home Premium (this is not the case with versions of Office 365 for Business that can work in conjunction with already-purchased versions of Office 2007 [limited functionality] and Office 2010).

The Office 2013 installation on the old warhorse Gateway with clean Windows 7/Office 2010 install was another story. To further clarify things, the installation was fine but Office 2013 would not activate. This meant that I had a 30-day trial period but every time I did anything, I was reminded and prompted to activate Office 2013. On top of that, key features simply would not work (like printing) until it was activated. I proceeded to muck around for several days uninstalling, reinstalling, tweaking, scouring numerous support forums, and tried Microsoft Live Chat to no avail. Finally, I decided to voice call Microsoft support and found that finding a number to call was pretty difficult and sadly realized that I should have written down the number that Live Chat gave me earlier

I finally reached live support and it began at the account level, basically looking around for issues related to account status and the activation options shown in the screen capture above. After non-success, I was escalated to the next level, with a support technician asking that I let them take control of my PC via LogMeIn remote access. While I was leery about doing this, I was sick and tired of several days of futility and sat back and watched as they tried everything that I had previously tried–similarly to no avail. I could tell that the support tech at this level was following a script and found myself yelling “click OK!” at the screen a number of times. Nevertheless, second-level support could not get Office 2013 to activate and then I was escalated to the top level of support with an appointment to resume live support the following day.

A gentleman named David called me but he was a half-hour late. We exchanged pleasantries and he told me that he was from India. I was astounded because he spoke perfect and fluent English and I would have never known. I watched as he took control of my PC over the course of the next several hours, doing incredible things that I have never seen before and I consider myself pretty darn knowledgeable when it comes to the ins-and-outs of Windows. There was no doubt that this man was a Windows genius, but even he could not solve the activation issue. He explained to me that although he could not solve the issue, he needed to speak with his supervisor about the final solution. He went off-line for about 15 minutes and called me back: the final solution was that his boss agreed to let me install the full version of Office 2013 ProPlus in the traditional manner (via download link/activation key as opposed to Web page per above). I was delighted to find out that Office 2013 ProPlus includes all the cloud features of Office 365 Home Premium and more, and performed the traditional key activation. Everything worked perfectly. I am now the proud owner of the latest and most deluxe version of Microsoft Office 2013 and ONE HAPPY CUSTOMER.

The Bottom Line

Trying to resolve the finicky Office 2013 Pro upgrade was difficult. However, the final solution was a revelation on several levels:

  1. It was difficult to finally reach the required level of Microsoft Live Support–but ultimately worth it.
  2. David, the top-level Microsoft Technical Support Engineer is a genius and I was blown away watching what he was doing to my PC. For me, it was more entertaining than watching anything on television.
  3. David articulated better than any other voice support personnel I have ever dealt with, significantly undermining the widespread notion that “off-shore technical support isn’t good.”
  4. Microsoft really does care about its customers. You just have to have sufficient patience to navigate through the proper channels, and it may not be easy to reach your ultimate destination.

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