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Scam alert: Microsoft Office 365 Lifetime Subscription

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I admit that my user experience with macOS and the MacBook Air is far superior compared to Windows as well as Toshiba, HP, and Dell. However, if there’s one software application that I cannot replace, that would be the Microsoft Office Suite. The UI and UX in Apple’s Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are light years away from Microsoft’s Office. Although many Mac users have told me they are rich in features. Hence, I researched Microsoft Office 365 for Mac and stumbled upon an advertisement in social media that said, Microsoft Office 365 Lifetime License for only LKR 1,500/- (approx. 8 USDs) with one year one to one replacement warranty.

I immediately knew something is off and headed to Microsoft Community Forums right away. (After all, a subscription is a recurring fee for goods or services, which you pay monthly or annually. On the other hand, how can there be a warranty for a software product?) Given below are my findings and why you must not buy the so-called “Lifetime Subscription”

1. No Lifetime Subscription for MS Office 365

It’s nothing but a scam. There’s no such thing as a Microsoft Office 365 Lifetime Subscription. To confirm this, I left a question for Microsoft Tech Support via Microsoft Community Forums. You can visit the original thread here. An independent advisor promptly replied to my question. Given below is the highlight from his answer (emphasis mine).

Please be aware that there is no lifetime license for Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Office 365, unlike Office 2019, requires an annual or monthly subscription to get the latest versions of the Office apps, such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. You will always have the latest features, new tools, security updates, and bug fixes available. PC users also get Access and Publisher. Said that if you receive some similar message stating the lifetime license for Office 365 or any other product or service, please move it to the spam folder and report that to Microsoft.

Igor Araújo (Independent Advisor – Microsoft Community)

Therefore, when purchasing a subscription for Microsoft Office 365, please do so through a Microsoft Authorized reseller. Beware when purchasing through links advertised on social media, and e-commerce websites like eBay and Daraz. Always order from a Microsoft Authorized Reseller. Microsoft’s Marketplace Directory is useful for locating resellers near you.

2. It’s a violation of Microsoft Terms of Service

Remember, every time we buy a software product, we are not paying for the software itself. We are paying for a license that earns us the right to use that software product. The use of this license is subject to the software vendor’s terms of service. This is true for free software and open-source software also. Given below is the clause from the Microsoft Services Agreement governing the usage of license for the software (emphasis mine).

The software is licensed, not sold, and Microsoft reserves all rights to the software not expressly granted by Microsoft, whether by implication, estoppel, or otherwise. This license does not give you any right to, and you may not:

IV. Publish, copy, rent, lease, sell, export, import, distribute, or lend the software or the Services unless Microsoft expressly authorizes you to do so.

V. Transfer the software, any software licenses, or any rights to access or use the Services.

VI. Use the Services in any unauthorized way that could interfere with anyone else’s use of them or gain access to any service, data, account, or network.

The so-called “Lifetime Subscription” for Office 365 violates the fourth and fifth clauses. Besides most of the accounts sold online are under a hacked “administrative” account. Hence, it’s a violation of the sixth clause also.

3. It poses a serious threat to your data at Rest

I cannot confirm the accuracy of my position on this, but I have a strong feeling you are risking any information that you will upload to the OneDrive account associated with such “Lifetime” subscriptions. Partly because when the legitimate administrator of the subscription eventually finds out about your presence, he will disable your account and you will lose access to anything that you uploaded to OneDrive.

Second, if you are not the Administrator someone else is. Here’s the danger. That Administrator could potentially access all your documents. photos, contacts, etc. resting in OneDrive. Why suffer data loss to save a few bucks? Invest in a genuine subscription through an authorized reseller. If you cannot afford it there are plenty of open-source, free, and even cheaper alternatives on the internet.

I know nothing beats Microsoft Office. Whether it’s free, open-source, or cheap. The temptation to purchase that so-called “Lifetime License” will be stronger than your gut feeling. However, it’s not worth the risk. There’s no chance on earth an administrator will never notice your presence. The moment he does he will kick you out. This is why the sellers advertise one-to-one warranty. That warranty however doesn’t cover data loss or theft.

Wrap Up

I came across the story below while researching for this blog post and decided to share it here. If you are still not convinced or you just can’t resist the temptation to pay for an Office 365 “Lifetime” license, please read it before proceeding with the purchase.

I recently purchased a so-called office 365 subscription from an online store. About 10 minutes later, I received an email notification with the credentials. However, I didn’t receive a product license key. Only a pre-made email with the password. In the email were instructions to download the software along with the email address and the password I received. Which worked.

However, upon checking further I realized that I have been duped into buying access to a subscription belonging to an educational institute, instead of my subscription where I will be the Administrator and will be able to adjust the product to my liking. I contacted Microsoft Support Immediately. They advised it’s a well-known scam and demand a refund. The seller refused point-blank! I contacted him again, but I never received a response this time.

Therefore, I left a negative review on the seller’s page explaining the issue and discouraging potential buyers from ordering. Shortly afterward I attempted to log back into the account to grab a few screenshots and the merchant had revoked my credentials and blocked me and deleted my review.

[Source: Microsoft Community]

You may ask, why isn’t Microsoft taking any noticeable action against these violations of their terms of service? I can think of only one reason. Guerilla Marketing! In the year 1998 Speaking at the University of Washington, Bill Gates said: “Although 3 million computers get sold each year in China, people don’t pay for our software. Someday they will, though, and as long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.” [Source: The Economic Times)

So, the bottom line is Microsoft is turning a blind eye to these violations hoping even though people are violating Microsoft Terms of Service, they are at least using it, and this could someday translate into real market share.

Now, I know some cloud service providers offer genuine lifetime subscriptions for products other than Office 365. It should be noted however lifetime in this context doesn’t mean if the client lives. It means if the company lasts. For example, in 2012, I signed up for a free-for-life account from Backupify.

In the year 2014 however, Backupify happily announced they were acquired by Datto, and free-for-life accounts would not be available anymore. Any existing accounts will be converted to premium accounts. Another reason why you should not rely solely on “Lifetime” Subscriptions even if a given subscription is genuine.

If you found this content helpful, I kindly ask you to leave your feedback in the comments section below. Sharing it on social media would also be greatly appreciated. In order to promote meaningful and respectful dialogue, I request that you use your full name when commenting. Please note that any comments containing profanity, name-calling, or a disrespectful tone will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding and participation.

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