6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for Free

Key Takeaways

  • Use Microsoft 365 Online for free! It may lack some functionality but is a versatile alternative to a paid license. Plus, it keeps your document formatting intact.
  • Get Microsoft 365 Mobile Apps on Android and iOS. Though functionality varies on screen size, it’s a convenient way to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the go.
  • Sign up for a free Microsoft 365 trial to access the full suite of Office.
  • Just remember to cancel before the trial expires to avoid being charged.

Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office) remains the gold standard of office applications, but a standalone Microsoft Office license, that is, if you’re not using the Microsoft 365 subscription service, is an expensive outlay.

If that makes your wallet weep, check out these methods to use Microsoft Office for free. Also, please note that Microsoft Office is now named Microsoft 365, with its various products and offshoots also changing name.

1. Use Microsoft 365 Online (Formerly Office Online)

Microsoft itself offers a substantial collection of free Microsoft 365 utilities. Once known as Office on the Web and Office Online, Microsoft 365 Online is a browser-based version of the latest Microsoft Office/Microsoft 365 suite. Regardless of what it’s called, it’s a way to get Microsoft 365 for free.

It currently includes:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • Sway
  • Mail
  • People
  • Calendar
  • OneDrive

There is a catch, however. The online versions of Microsoft 365 apps only provide a limited Microsoft Office experience.

Word Online, for example, does not include text boxes, WordArt, equations, charts, and more. You can still write a term paper, but you won’t be able to compile a company report. Similarly, you can open and view your Excel spreadsheet, but your custom macros won’t load.

office on the web options

While Microsoft 365 Online lacks some functionality, it is a versatile free alternative to a fully paid Microsoft 365 license. The free Microsoft 365 versions will happily open your files, allow editing, and, importantly, keep your document formatting in place at all times.

If you only need a full-fledged text editor, here’s how to get Microsoft Word for free. But don’t miss out on the other ways to get Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office) for free!

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2. Microsoft 365 Mobile Apps

Microsoft Office is available for free on Android and iOS. The Microsoft 365 mobile apps (formerly Microsoft Office mobile) include reduced but functional versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Microsoft has changed its Office mobile app strategy a few times, switching between standalone and unified Office apps, and has renamed its entire suite Microsoft 365.

Now, how functional you find the Microsoft 365 mobile app comes down to the size of the screen you’re using. For instance, editing a Word document on my Nothing Phone 2 is reasonable, but attempting to navigate an Excel spreadsheet is fiddly and frustrating. Conversely, editing a Word or Excel document on a larger, tablet-sized screen is actually quite enjoyable.

I’m still not convinced you’ll be running your company accounts from the Microsoft 365 mobile app, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch. Plus, it is another way you can use Microsoft 365 for free. At least, a part of Microsoft 365.

Android and iOS users can currently use a unified Microsoft 365 app that includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The Microsoft 365 app also includes Microsoft Lens (the document scanning tool), a PDF conversion tool, instant file sharing between nearby devices, and picture and data extraction from files and spreadsheets.

That said, the standalone versions of the apps are still available on Google Play and the App Store, meaning you can pick and choose the apps you want. The standalone Microsoft 365 apps also include OneDrive, Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint, among others.

Download: Microsoft 365 for Android | iOS

However, if you do want the standalone Microsoft 365 apps to keep using Microsoft Office for free that way, here are the links for Android devices:

Furthermore, the Microsoft Corporation App Store page includes links to the various free Microsoft 365 apps for iPhone and iPad.

3. Sign Up for the Microsoft 365 Trial

microsoft office 365 trial

Office 2019 introduced numerous changes across the suite. There was seemingly less to shout about when Microsoft Office 2021 came around. Still, if you haven’t already signed up for Office 2021 elsewhere, you can give it a try before emptying your pockets. As such, you can take a free one-month Microsoft 365 trial.

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The trial will grant you access to the full Microsoft Office 2021 suite. Also, you get 1TB OneDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of Skype credits per month. Of course, there is a “catch.” You must provide a valid credit, debit, or PayPal account during the sign-up process. Microsoft will automatically charge your account once your trial expires.

Previously, there was a second free trial you could pick up for Office 365 ProPlus. However, since that service changed its name to Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, the free trial is unfortunately no longer available.

4. Buy Hardware With Microsoft 365 (Formerly Microsoft Office) Bundled

Microsoft 365 rarely comes bundled with a new desktop or laptop. Unless it is a specific introductory deal, you’ll be purchasing Microsoft 365 as an add-on. And if you’re building your own PC, well, you’re straight out of luck.

That said, these types of deals aren’t impossible—you just have to strike while the iron is hot. Unfortunately, that means you need a circumstantial trifecta: new hardware with a bundle deal, the money to take advantage of said deal, and the need to actually upgrade your hardware.

Here are three examples of laptops that include a free Microsoft 365 license:

Acer Aspire One 15.6

The Acer Aspire One 15.6 comes from Acer’s Cloudbook series, most of which feature a free one-year subscription to Microsoft 365. The Aspire One 15.6″ includes an Intel Celeron N4500 processor, 4GB or 8GB RAM, and 128GB storage.

HP Stream 14

The HP Stream 14 is a smart, slimline laptop with an Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a one-year Microsoft 365 subscription.

Asus L210

The Asus L210 is an ultra-thin 11.6″ laptop. It comes equipped with an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365.

5. Ask Your Employer or School

microsoft 365 education subscription options

Everything we’ve covered so far allows you to grab Microsoft 365 for free but also has limitations: availability, functionality, and hardware. However, this penultimate option offers some of you a very good chance of acquiring a full version of Microsoft Office 2021 or Microsoft 365 completely free.

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First, you’ll have to check in with your employer or if you’re a student, your school. Many companies and schools can offer either a free or extremely low-cost Microsoft 365 license for one reason: the people working or studying there need it. Businesses will have to pay, but bulk licenses may mean your employer can provide a free or cheap option.

Furthermore, Microsoft has long supported schools with free Office 365 Education packages. It might be that you have to ask directly.

6. Pester a Friend to Join Their Microsoft 365 Family Account

Okay, this option is perhaps the least feasible of all methods to grab a free Microsoft 365 license. But hear me out. Heaps of people share Netflix login credentials, Amazon Prime login credentials, Grammarly login credentials, and so on (as much as services like Netflix don’t want you to share!). If your friend or family member has a free spot on their Microsoft 365 Family account, maybe they’ll let you slot your name in. Just make sure to ask nicely.

What About a Microsoft 365 Lifetime License?

If a free Microsoft 365 license doesn’t grab you, why not consider a Microsoft Office Lifetime License? Well, for one good reason: they don’t exist.

You might see websites advertising a Microsoft 365 Lifetime License (you’ll even find this deal on some reputable tech sites!), but the reality is, once you click through the first page, you’ll end up on a product key site where you’ll likely purchase a Microsoft 365 Volume key. Now, we haven’t gone out and done this ourselves, so cannot verify the claims.

But one thing we do know is that product key sites are never clear where their miraculously cheap and incredible “Lifetime License” comes from, and we’ve seen more than a few volume keys revoked before. Buyers, be warned.

You Have Many Ways to Grab Microsoft 365 for Free

Grabbing a full version of Microsoft 365 for free isn’t possible for everyone. But you’ve got some excellent options, nonetheless. The free Office 365 trials grants you 30 days of Microsoft 365, and the mobile versions of Microsoft 365 allow you free use for as long as you want.

While the 365 mobile apps are limited, they’re very functional, especially on larger screens.

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