Companies that offer licensed software have started to adopt a subscription based model for their apps. This is done to counter software counterfeiting. Adobe no longer lets you buy a license for its apps. Instead, you need to buy a monthly or yearly subscription. Likewise, Microsoft also offers a subscription based purchasing model for Office 365. You can still buy an Office 2016 product key but Microsoft doesn’t advertise it much. In fact, Windows 10 even pushes you to buy an Office 365 subscription. This has lead to users thinking they can no longer get an Office 20116 product key from Microsoft and they turn to third-party sellers to get it. The only problem is that not all of them are selling you an authentic key.
If you suspect your Office 2016 product key isn’t authentic, Microsoft offers a way to check it.
Check Office 2016 Product Key
Visit this page, and sign in with your Microsoft account. This can be any Microsoft account. It doesn’t matter if you have it tied to an Office 365 subscription or to a Windows 10 account. Neither is needed. Any Microsoft account will do.
This page essentially lets you download Office 2016’s setup files but before it does, it asks you to enter the product key. If your product key is valid, you will be given a link to download the setup files.
If the product key isn’t valid, you’ll get an error like the one shown below;
If you bought a key for a different version of Office, i.e. Office 2010, or Office 2007, or Office for Mac, it redirects you to this page where you can verify your product key, and download the right version of Office.
Microsoft doesn’t tell you that the key isn’t real but if it can’t find the key in its database it’s safe to say you’ve been sold a counterfeit. If you bought the key from a well-known retailer, you might be able to return it and it’s probably an honest mistake. If you bought the key from a random seller on Craigslist or Amazon or eBay, your refund options are almost non-existent.
The only way to avoid being duped is to buy a key directly from Microsoft. It might take a little digging around but you can still buy Office 2016 and skip the subscription based model of Office 365. If for some reason, you’re unable to purchase directly from Microsoft, try and buy Office from a reliable vendor. Also, if you’re getting the product at a ridiculously low price, it’s safe to assume that you’re being scammed.