office 365 for androidLast November, Microsoft updated their free Office apps for the iPhone and iPad and suddenly allowed users to create and edit documents. The IT world was buzzing with the news that Microsoft was now offering “Office for free.” At the time, I tried to caution people that it was free for consumers, but businesses needed to watch out … the product use rights for the free iPad/iPhone apps do not allow the software to be used for commercial purposes.

Fast forward to March, 2015. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the Office apps for Android devices are now ready to go. Will the new apps allow business use? Will Microsoft finally make Office free for everyone? Even businesses? Will the tiger finally change it stripes?

Unfortunately, no. We’re in the same situation we were in last November. Same song, second verse. So once again, business owners and IT directors take note: the product use rights for the free Android apps do not allow the software to be used for commercial purposes. If your users download the free app and start using it to create and edit business files, you will be out of compliance with Microsoft. And that could mean trouble if you are audited by Microsoft down the road.

Calls are still rolling in for help on handling Microsoft audits. For reference, here are my posts on surviving Microsoft audits:

Here’s the proof from the Terms and Conditions webpage for the new Android apps.  If you just use the free version and you don’t have an Office 365 subscription, here’s your limitation:

As allowed by the software, which may require sign-in with a Microsoft account, you may also create, edit or save documents for non-commercial purposes.

And just like the iPad/iPhone Office apps, things don’t get any better when your employees use the in-app purchase option since they can only sign up for the “Home” or “Personal” versions of Office 365 through that route. Those versions do not include the right for business use. They are for “home use” only.

So what should you do? The answer is to sign your employees up for one of the Office 365 business plans! Qualifying business plans of Office 365 include: Business, Business Premium, Small Business Premium, Midsize Business, Enterprise E3, and Enterprise E4. With a subscription to these plans, you stay compliant with Microsoft when your employees are using their apps for business purposes, your employees can take advantage of the full feature set within the apps, and they can use the many other benefits included in these plans.  Mirazon can help you sign up for the plan the best meets your need, so give us a call.

So what’s the moral of the story?  “Free” isn’t “free” if you’re a business owner. Always read the fine print when you’re getting a free product from Microsoft, and don’t expect the use rights to be in your favor.

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Worried you’re out of compliance or did you receive a Microsoft audit letter in the mail? We’ve got you covered. Start now by calling 502-240-0404 or emailing us.