Software

How do I get a free copy of Microsoft Office for my kids?

Free copy of Microsoft Office
Word up: your kids may qualify for a free copy of Microsoft Office

Au contraire, it’s your kids that are likely to get a free copy of Microsoft Office for you.

Many secondary schools are now signed up to Office 365, Microsoft’s scheme that sells access to the Office apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the like – on subscription. As part of the deal for paying a fiver per month per student, Microsoft lets students download up to five installations of the Office apps at home, effectively for free. (The school normally pays the subscription fee, not the pupil.) That means there’s nothing stopping you from downloading a copy of Office onto all of your home computers, provided you’re not using it for business purposes, which would break the licensing conditions. Although quite how anyone would be able to detect such usage is open to debate…

How to get your free copy of Microsoft Office

Whether or not your child is eligible to download a free copy of Microsoft Office depends on the subscription package the school has signed up to. The most basic package only permits students to access the online versions of the Office apps, which anyone can already do as long as they have a free Microsoft account (such as an old Hotmail or Outlook.com email address).

Only if the school is part of the Office 365 Education E5 programme are pupils allowed to download the five free installations of Office. Schools are normally pretty good at letting parents know when this is available as part of the welcome pack, but it’s certainly worth asking if not.

More often than not, there’s a link or Microsoft icon on the homepage of the school’s website where your son/daughter can login with their school email address and password and download the applications.

Office 365 for Education

There are seven Office apps available to download for Education users: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher and Access (the last two are PC only, the rest can be installed on Macs).

Students will also have access to Microsoft’s portfolio of online services, such as OneDrive cloud storage, Skype and the online presentation tool Sway.

Of course, this isn’t an entirely altruistic move on Microsoft’s part. Not only does it scoop a sizeable subscription fee from the school but it hooks another generation on Microsoft Office apps, ensuring it’s still the go-to software in tomorrow’s workplaces. Cunning.

If your kids’ school doesn’t subscribe to Office 365, there’s always the free LibreOffice suite to fall back on.

Now read this: How do I convert a PDF into a Word document on a Mac?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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