Thousands of NHS staff stripped of Microsoft Office

28 Jul 2010
health care IT

NHS staff told to uninstall Microsoft Office on home PCs following end of discounted licensing deal

Tens of thousands of NHS staff are to lose their personal copies of Microsoft Office after being caught out by a confusing licensing agreement.

Earlier this month, the NHS ended its £80 million Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft three years early. The agreement licensed 800,000 desktops across the health service, and offered software discounts to staff.

I should have read the terms and conditions, but let's be honest, life's too short

One discount was via the Home User Programme, which let NHS staff have a copy of Office 2007 for £8.95 for download or £17.95 for a disc. The full version of Office retails at £109.

However, the Home User sales merely offered a licence and not a full copy. Now that the Enterprise Agreement is over, staff have been told to remove the software from their PCs.

Employees have been emailed with instructions on how to remove Office from their computers, with no offer of a refund or way to upgrade to a full, legal version.

“Staff are advised that any copies of Microsoft Office that they may have installed on their home PC/Mac… as part of the ‘Home User Programme’ associated with the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement are no longer licensed, and should be removed,” the email said.

“The terms users accepted when entering in to the Home User Programme stated that they are only licensed a) while employed by the NHS and b) while the Enterprise Agreement is live,” the email added. “The amount paid for HUP versions was not to purchase the licence, but simply to get the media shipped from Microsoft.”

Microsoft echoed those words on its NHS website: "This offer gave NHS employees the opportunity to purchase Microsoft Office at a discounted rate of £8.95. Unfortunately, as the Enterprise-wide Agreement has not been renewed, NHS employees can no longer take advantage of this offer and must also uninstall their current copy of Microsoft Office if it was purchased under HUP.”

Life's too short

The sudden withdrawal of the Office licence has angered one PC Pro reader, who asked to remain anonymous. “Of course, I should have read the terms and conditions, but let's be honest, life's too short,” he said.

“I suppose I should also have guessed that £8.95 for a copy of Office or £17.95 for a physical disc was too good to be true,” he added, saying tens of thousands of NHS staff could be affected.

An NHS spokesperson stressed that hospitals wouldn't suffer from the conclusion of the agreement. “The Department of Health has already invested so that NHS Trusts are able to have access to the latest versions of Microsoft desktop software,” the spokesperson said.

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