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An Amusing Solution!

In the long-running comment thread on the Who Moved My PowerPivot Cheese post, one of the recurring themes is “hey, just let me pay a small amount extra for PowerPivot in 2013, but give me a way to buy it ok?”

At the MVP Summit last week, Ken Puls mentioned that he has a way to do precisely that.  You pay about $30 for the right to buy a Volume License copy of Office 2013 Pro Plus.

I haven’t tried this myself but Ken certainly has.  Consider this a viable workaround until further notice.  Take it away Ken…

The Official Purchasing Channels

Rob recently put up a post on the availability of PowerPivot in Office 2013, and how it wouldn’t ship in all Excel SKU’s. This is a huge issue, to be sure, so I thought I’d quickly summarize the software distribution channels so you can see where you will/won’t get PowerPivot if you buy into the 2013 package.

You’ve got two ways to buy a copy of Office 2013 Pro Plus (the version that includes PowerPivot):  Volume Licensing or an Office 365 Business subscription (the Home subscriptions do NOT include PowerPivot). 

Each can be further broken down (see Chris Webb’s blog on Office 365 options [link removed due to 404] here), but to keep this easy to follow, I’ve kept it to key comparable SKU’s:


The $30 Volume Licensing Workaround!

Now, here’s the really funny part about the above though… everything you’ve read so far would give you the impression that getting a volume license is going to be tough and expensive. It’s actually not.

The volume license requirement is that you buy a minimum of 5 licenses for Microsoft products in order to qualify for the volume licensing program. It does NOT mean that you need to buy 5 of the SAME product. And guess what? Some of those license are… well… they’re kind of cheap! In fact, a 1 user license for the “Microsoft DVD Playback Pack for Windows Vista Business” SKU is around $7.00 (CDN$).

I’ve talked to the guy who sells us all of our licenses in depth about the volume licensing can and can’t do’s, and YES, you are reading that right. You can buy into a volume licensing purchase for around $30 in addition to the product you actually want. And by doing so, a small business or individual CAN buy the Office Pro Plus SKU. It’s ridiculous, honestly, but it is 100% compliant to the Microsoft Licensing model.

If you’re interested in doing this, the guy I use (who is very good) is Jordie Braidwood of Think Communications. They are Canadian based, but are completely set up to deal with US businesses as well, so if you want to buy Pro Plus, and you need help doing it, drop them a line at [email protected] or 250.220.6033.

The Issues

By now we all know that Office Pro Plus is required to create and modify PowerPivot files.  It’s also true that we can still consume PowerPivot files that are created by others, no matter what version of Excel you’re running.  Whether or not that model is good or not, I’ll let you decide.

It should also be very clear here that, if you do not have a Pro Plus license, you cannot use PowerView at all.

I seems like this model was built with the understanding that corporate customers could buy the Office Pro Plus SKU through volume licensing or Office 365.  And based on what’s here, I’d guess that many businesses would probably evaluate buying of a few licenses for the “developers” vs the standard licenses for “consumers” of information as, with the exception of PowerView, you may not even really need PowerPivot on everyone’s desktop.

I’ll admit that I’m not really clear why we even need a “Pro Plus” SKU at all.  I’m not sure why PowerPivot and PowerView couldn’t just be included in the Professional SKU and be done with it.  After looking at this closely, it almost seems that Pro Plus could become the Office equivalent of Visual Studio, used to develop apps.  And if that’s the case, why would they sell more than a few licenses at all?  Of course, that would effectively kill PowerView, but then their current stance seems bound to do that anyway.

The part that concerns me the most here though, is that there is a hole in this matrix. Your home user or very small business cannot by a Pro Plus license through classic channel as there is no SKU available to buy a boxed copy of Office Pro Plus.  This is a huge issue, in my opinion, as this effectively cuts many consultants out of the picture if they can’t afford to buy into the minimum five license requirements of a volume licensing agreement or are uninterested in buying an Office365 subscription at this time.  And that is a factor that I see as critical to overall PowerPivot adoption.

Final Word

Like Rob has already said “I also think that this decision is so clearly “off strategy” that I hold out hope that [Microsoft] reconsider.”  We should not have to follow this dog and pony show in order to buy their product.  But at least there IS a way to get a single license edition of ProPlus.

If you haven’t already, please leave your comments so that Microsoft understands why this approach is bad for us AND them.

This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. The primary problem, in my view, is this whole approach kills “model portability”. The reason I model things in Excel is so that I can hand off my work to any client, and they can take over without having to go and buy some new specialized software. Convincing clients who were using Excel 2003 or 2007 to upgrade to 2010 has been pretty easy; convincing them to now upgrade to a very specific and more expensive very specific version of Excel is not so easy – particularly when very similar functionality is still built into 2010

    I gladly upgraded to 2010, I sadly won’t be upgrading to 2013.

        1. Eric this is exactly what I have been thinking. One of the reasons Excel is popular is that you can get stuck in and change things, that’s the point!

          Just editing is such a bogus argument.

      1. that’s not entirely true, the pivot table that i created they are not able to even change the filter on it.

  2. This is a travesty. PowerPivot/View is billed by Microsoft as a “self-service” BI solution — yet they’re making it more or less impossible for individual BI consultants to utilize this software.

    As a consultant of a firm of 20, this new pricing debacle is really going to turn off my bosses to offering PowerPivot/View as an SaaS solution that enhances our SharePoint farms. I myself have made 2 separate presentations on (and invested hundreds of hours learning!) PowerPivot. I stay after work until 8p everyday teaching my coworkers the tool and applying it to my own projects. The thousands of BI consultants like me are the “true believers” that PowerPivot/View was designed for.

    That BI consultants will be de facto blocked from the PowerPivot/View revolution is absurd. Enterprise users already have comprehensive BI solutions! BI consultants have always been the “grains of innovation” in closing the gap between the SQL developers and the board room. Further, I can safely assert that enthusiastic BI consultants provide Microsoft more market penetration for these types of products than any of their marketing teams ever could have.

    I would love to know how many of the marketing folks at Microsoft responsible for this decision cut their teeth with the Encarta marketing team 20 years ago.

    1. Dave, my understanding is that, if it’s ProPlus it is ProPlus and therefore should have PowerPivot. Professional (no plus) does not have PowerPivot.

      To my knowledge all the SKU’s are “whole” and the components don’t change with one exception: Standalone Excel. That one has the lucky distinction of coming in two flavours depending on whether you buy via volume licensing or retail. I have no idea how anyone is supposed to keep that straight, but there it is.

      With regards to the license that you’re looking at, do keep in mind that is not a 5 USER license, it is a 5 device license for 1 user.

      1. I just bought it from the link I mentioned above and can confirm that it installed and has Powerview & Powerpivot. I have also installed it on my laptop with the same results. I have 4 devices so $12/mo is a steal.

        Thanks everyone for trying to make sense out of this situation!!!

        1. If you cancel your monthly subscription, I wonder if your licensed local office version will stop working. I’m not saying you should do this, just wondering.

          1. I had a trial version at one point that expired and it kept showing a message at the top saying something to the effect of ‘There is a problem with your subscription, click here to reactivate it’. Thought it was supposed to stop you from editing files, I didn’t notice any limitations in functionality, just the bar at the top. There is only so long I could stare at that though…

            As an aside, count me among those who see this change by Microsoft incredibly irritating and ill advised. I like to think of myself as an excel power user, if I am left considering downgrading to a prior version they are in trouble.

  3. Thanks for this tip Ken it is appreciated. If I may add, this ‘loophole purchasing method’ somewhat reminds me of drinking Buckley’s cough syrup.

  4. Hello All,
    I have links for USA and Canadian pricing for Office 365 Pro plus as well as a free 25 license trial if your interested.
    Feel free to reach out to me for these at [email protected]
    Just let me know what country you are in as there are different links and different pricing depending on the country.

    1. I would be interested in speaking with you to an affordable way to gain some experience using PowerPivot and assess it’s usefulness.

      I would prefer a single purchase vs monthly. I don’t want anything I develop to become unusable if I don’t pay a monthly fee.

  5. ok I know this post is kind of old already – but can anybody tell me if the PowerPivot Addin will work in the office 365 university edition?
    I cannot find anything about it. but if it is not working, I’ll have to get an older version of excel for home use…

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