Microsoft is offering 50 percent off its cloud-based Microsoft 356 Personal and Family subscriptions as part of the company’s efforts to turn software pirates into paying customers. The company is reportedly nudging users who have unlicensed versions of Microsoft Office installed on their computers to subscribe at a discounted price for the first year. Microsoft is also warning users about the risks of running counterfeit software on their PCs, and it appears that only users who have pirated the software are eligible to claim the discount online.
The company’s discounted subscription offer for Microsoft 356 was recently spotted by gHacks as a banner in the ribbon UI of a counterfeit version of Microsoft Office. Clicking on the banner, which advertises a 50 percent discount, takes the user to a website that warns users about the risks of using pirated software on the left and has a purchase button with the annual subscription prices of Microsoft 365 Personal (Rs. 4,899) and Microsoft 365 Family (Rs. 6,199) on the right. It has a message alongside that says 50 percent discount for “eligible customers”.
However, not all users appear to be eligible, according to Microsoft. Visiting the official URL through a normal browser shows the appropriate web page, but Gadgets 360 was unable to avail of the offer. Users have to sign in so Microsoft can check if they are eligible for the discount, and accounts that have a genuine Microsoft Office license key (or Office 365 subscription) appear to be excluded from the offer, according to the report.
As Microsoft Office is one of the most widely used office and productivity suites in the world, it is also pirated by several users. The move seems to be aimed at turning those running pirated software into paying customers. It is worth noting that the discount offer was still available, assuming Microsoft deems a user eligible, at the time of publishing this article. However, the discounted price of Rs. 3,100 for Microsoft Office 365 Family will be valid for the first year only, after which the company will charge users the regular Rs. 6,199 price for the software.
Users who are not keen on paying an annual subscription or wish there was a discount on the standalone version of Microsoft Office can also look at open-source and free alternatives such as LibreOffice, Onlyoffice, and SoftMaker Office. Users who want to use Microsoft services for free can also use the company’s Microsoft Office Online tools for free, which allows them to access and edit files in a browser window, without needing a license or subscription.