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MS Office

Current information on MS Office 2016 and its use at the University of Bonn can be found here...

General Information

First of all, it is necessary to differentiate between MS Office licenses for use on university computers ("workstations"), which can be equipped via the MS Select framework agreement (see Software Shop).

These (and ONLY these) should be used for a business computer belonging to the university! (see "MS Office 2016 - News").

If Office is to be used on devices that do NOT belong to the university, a distinction is made between employees and students:

  • For students there are currently no central procurement possibilities via the university. This means that students can only use the official versions offered by Microsoft for private persons/students (as Office purchase version or as Office 365 subscription - also here in the online version only for private persons without protection of personal data or files (= contents)). Below you will find detailed information, e.g. about "Microsoft Office 365 University", which in our opinion is currently the only way to access Office installations for students
  • Employees of the university can theoretically receive an office for a private device from several offers. In practice, this is usually the same statement as for students, since the preconditions for discounts controlled by the university are usually not met. Nevertheless, here is an overview - more information can be found below. Basically there are:
  1. the right, referred to by MS as "Work-at-Home", to use an Office package on ONE private computer (exclusively for SERVICE purposes) if you have been assigned a computer at the university with the SAME Office License as the "main user" (i.e. you must use MORE than 50% of the time on the computer within 90 days). 
  2.  the so-called "Home-Use-Program" (HUP), where the use on a private computer (business or private) is allowed by paying a small fee, if the preconditions listed below are met (which are usually not met!). If you want something like this, as ASKnet. Problem: Home-use program ends when the license ends in the university (e.g. when renting) or when you leave the university - even if you paid for it. 
  3.  the freely available office offers from Microsoft. These currently include the Office sales versions or the offers under Office 365 (for private individuals). Please note that the "Office 365 University" offers have nothing to do with a secure (business) Office 365. These belong to the purely private area, which is managed and evaluated by Microsoft and in which all files stored in the cloud (OneDrive) are regularly subjected to a content scan. The locally "installable" version of the Office package, which comes from this offer, is a pure "streamed" version ("Click2Play"), which is compared with the version from the cloud each time it is called up and updated if necessary.
  4.  If the university were to conclude appropriate (expensive) contracts and provide the resources for administration and connection to university services, such as our identity management, an instance of Office 365 (Business) could also be set up. The University of Bonn has not yet made a positive decision on this for data protection/legal reasons and because of the costs.


Let's have a look at the different variations:

concerning 2: Home-Use-Program

The MS Home-Use-Program website (FAQ: contains the following information:

"The Home Use Program is a Software Assurance discount for Microsoft volume license customers with active Software Assurance for their Office applications. Employees who use these licenses in the workplace are eligible to purchase these Office applications for use on a home PC. However, this only applies for the period of their employment . This temporary license expires upon expiration of the Software Assurance or upon termination of the employment of the customer holding the license." 

As a rule, institutes do not purchase their Office licenses with software assurance (which is valid from the date of purchase until the anniversary of the Select contract (1.7) and then for 2 years). IF the institute has purchased for the workplace with SA, it must still apply that the workplace is assigned to an employee EXPLICITLY and the license is used by said employee as the "main user". A workstation where, for example, one secretary is sitting in the morning and another secretary is sitting in the afternoon (50% each), "does not belong" to any person - thus no use "at the workstation" is defined for either of them and do not qualify for the Home-Use-Program. The small fee for employees in the "Home-Use-Program" results from the limitations of the license. Since it is very complicated to keep track of whether a HUP license is valid or not, most institutions do not offer the HUP to their employees. By the way: In Germany, discounts that you get in this way are considered a "monetary advantage" (because you get a discount through your work) and this must be stated in the tax return...

concerning 1: Work-At-Home-Program

The Work-At-Home program was formerly used by Microsoft to provide employees with the ability to install an office license ONLY FOR SERVICABLE USE at home, even if they were assigned a permanent workstation in the organisation. However, special installation media had to be used which already contained the internal key of the facility. In addition, a detailed list of the installations released in this way had to be kept (with lots of nice information about who had the license, where else has this business license, etc.). 

 In the meantime, Microsoft has probably stopped sending the special installation media in many cases. Since most users were NOT allowed to write a private text with such an installation, the concept did not stick (also because of the large administrative expenditure). You can still buy such data media for Work-At-Home via the software shop. The following description is important:

Work-at-Home (WAH) license. For each WAH license you purchase, the sole primary user of a device on which you run a separately licensed copy of the Software (Work Device) is entitled to install and use one copy and use one copy of the Software on a home device solely for work-related purposes (WAH User). If you update the Software on the Work Device, the WAH User is entitled to update the copy on the Home Device. The WAH User's right to use the Software terminates when the WAH User leaves the organisation. At that time, the WAH User is obligated to remove the Software from the Home Device. 

The same applies, of course, if the office on the workstation is no longer licensed (because it was transferred to another computer, for example). In addition, it must be regulated by labour law if someone is allowed to carry out official tasks at home at all. But that is another topic. 

What now, should you procure?

For departments 

The versions usually used at the University of Bonn can be purchased at a discount via MS Select (Plus) via our SoftwareShop. These are Office Suits. 

The cloud-based versions from Office 365 are not recommended for use in the university because data protection cannot be controlled in research projects. It it unacceptable that people within the university try to protect research information, but then - voluntarily - pu the data into systems that have been known for years that they - completely legally!!! - are evaluated by government authorities (see Safe-Harbor Agreement, etc.).

For students 

there are unfortunately hardly any meaningful Microsoft offers left in the Softwareshop. Microsoft has removed these versions from almost all contracts. A source for products that Microsoft offers to students is the website Under "Office" you will find the reference to "Office 365 University" (which can be used by students with a 4-year subscription for approx. 80 Euro, but which does not meet the data protection requirements of the university in the online version. Private individuals CAN of course use this version and from our point of view it is currently the only inexpensive was for students to get an Office version. Alternatively, you can of course also consider the purchase version of MS Office). 

Some reports in the IT press suggest that Microsoft makes Office 365 Pro Plus available to all students free of charge. In detail, this only applies to universities that have signed campus-wide contracts with Microsoft. This is currently not the case at the University of Bonn, because the university itself would have to conclude expensive campus contracts. 

Learn more about Microsoft contracts:

You can also find cheaper offers in free trade, but please make sure that you acquire the Office Suite from "honest traders". Not every offer is recommendable. The cheaper the products, the more caution you should take. 

As a rule, students do not pay so much attention to data protection because 1. they are not yet involved in top-level research and 2. students are often regarded as "private individuals" n the university who have to have their own data at their disposal. As soon as you as a students are involved in projects, the rule applies to employees. It can happen that you are no longer allowed to use the possibilities of some products that you have become fond of. 

What is the starter version?

New PCs will occasionally be shipped with a reduced-feature version of Word and Excel (often 60-day trial version). but this will display MS advertisements and will not include frequently required university features such as macros, automatic tables of contents, etc. Unlike Google with its Office packages, Microsoft probably does not scan the content of documents to display "contextual advertising" (i.e., transmit information about the content of documents to the server that selects the advertising!). Either way, the "starter" version should not play a role at the university. 

Further information: MS Office 365

The current versions of MS Office are complicated to oversee. The MS website at explains: 

What is the difference between Office 2016 suites and Office 365 plans?


With Office 365 subscription plans, you get complete, installable Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access (Publisher and Access are PC-only). You can install Office 365 in multiple devices including PCs, Macs, Android tablets, Android smartphones, iPad, and iPhone. In addition, Office 365 gives you services like online storage on OneDrive and Skype call minutes for personal use. With an active Office 365 subscription, you always have the latest versions of Office applications. 

Office in single purchase includes applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint for use on a single PC or Mac. Applications are not updated automatically. The Office applications that are available for single purchase are Office 2016 for Windows and Mac. Older versions include Office 2013, Office 2011 for Mac, Office 2010, Office 2007, Office 2008 for Mac, and Office 2004 for Mac. Office 2010 and Office 2007 are compatible with Windows 8.1 and earlier versions. Office single purchase does not include any of the services included in Office 365.

(As of 11/24/2015)

With the "full versions" of the Office 365 plans, it should also be noted that these are usually "streamed" to the computer, i.e. each time they are called up, the system checks whether the latest version is installed and if you get it - whether you like it or not! - all current changes. 

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