Microsoft Confirms Loophole In Office For iPad Activation Mechanism, Hopes iPad Users Won’t Exploit It

Excel for iPad

Microsoft announced Office for iPad two days back and it is already a hit among consumers. While the free download only allows you to view or present the documents, Office 365 subscription allows you to create and edit documents on the go. Office 365 subscription costs around $99 per year (Amazon is now offering for a deal price of $67). According to Office 365 licensing terms, you can use Office on 5 PCs or Macs plus five iPads or Windows tablets. CNET has now discovered that Microsoft is now enforcing the 5 tablets limit on Office 365 accounts. This loophole will allow any iPad user to use a single Office 365 subscription ID to unlock editing features on Office for iPad apps.

Microsoft provided the following statement on this loophole,

“Similar to our commercial use rights, we do not strictly enforce the limit on tablet installations, but trust that our users respect and understand the device limits outlined in the EULA [end user rights agreement],”

CNET described this scenario as below,

Similar to sharing around an HBO Go password among friends, all that’s required to exploit the loophole — which, again, is against the rights agreement that limits you to authenticating only five tablets — is to have someone with a valid Office 365 account log in to Word, Excel or any other Office app on iPad. Once that happens, the tablet is automatically authenticated for all Office apps and any future users, regardless of whether or not those users have paid for 365.

In other words, someone with a Microsoft account that was, just minutes prior, unable to access the best features of an iPad Office app  will then be able to utilize the full version — as well as other downloaded Office apps — seemingly indefinitely. The prompt to pay for 365 or resort to using the “read-only” mode disappears.

It wouldn’t be exactly practical to find reason to install Office on more than five iPads, and the fact that any 365 user gets 10 total installs makes the service highly economical from a customer standpoint.

But in the worst-case scenario, someone can share their Microsoft Account details with a large number of friends, or perhaps post them somewhere online, and authentication for Office iPad apps can be distributed limitlessly.

Microsoft confirmed that it does indeed track how many versions of Office for iPad a single account has authenticated. What action Microsoft would take if, say, a 100 people were piggybacking on a single 365 subscription is unclear, but the five-tablet limit is explicitly laid out in the user agreement very high up.

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Source: CNET

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