It sounds great: Microsoft now offers a free year's subscription to its Xbox LIVE Gold service if you pick up an Office 365 subscription or Office 365 University.
But dig into the terms and conditions attached to the promotion, and you'll find out quickly that it doesn't apply to everybody. In fact, if you purchased either subscription within the United States, you're out of luck.
What this does imply, however, is that Microsoft hopes to beef up its international penetration of Office 365 by piggybacking it onto the more popular Xbox game console. The deal is available in Canada and Mexico, plus many European countries like France, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Two of the so-called BRIC countries are also included: Brazil, and Russia.
But you're also out of luck if you purchased any of the following, which are not eligible for the deal:
- Office 365 Home Premium (monthly subscription)
- Office 365 Small Business Premium
- Office 2013 Suites (Home and Student, Home and Business and Professional)
- Office 2013 Standalone Applications
- Office for Mac 2011 Suites (Home and Student and Home and Business)
- All previous versions of Microsoft Office (2003, 2007, 2010)
- Office 365 trial product
- Not-For-Resale or promotional product
- Office 365 products licensed under a volume licensing agreement
Yes, if you decided to pay for Office 365 on a monthly basis, you're not eligible. And there's no love for the long-suffering Apple Macintosh platform, which has to make do with Microsoft's older products. (In the UK, Office 365 University costs £59.99 for a four-year subscription on up to two devices; otherwise, Office 365 Home Premium costs £79.99 per year, for up to four devices.)
Note that if you've waded through all this and find that you're actually eligible for the promotion, you can log in at office.com/xbox, enter your Microsoft ID, and then redeem your code for a year's worth of Xbox LIVE Gold. The code is transferable before you activate it, say from a subscription-holding parent to another family member.
Microsoft has embraced the cloud, not just as a way to sync settings, apps and data between devices and inject live information into documents, but as a stable, recurring-revenue model. One of the more eagerly anticipated pieces of data in Microsoft's earnings report, due Thursday afternoon, is how many Office 365 licenses it's sold. With this plan, that number might get a bit of a lift.