Alternately, Microsoft said, customers can reinstall an older version of Office, or use the free cloud-based versions of Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word -- collectively called Office Web Apps -- to create new documents and conduct basic editing chores.
Because Office 365 by default saves documents to Microsoft's SkyDrive, an expired subscription also affects the online storage service. If a customers has exceed the 7GB limit for a free SkyDrive account -- Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University include an additional 20GB of storage space, for a total allotment of 27GB -- no additional documents or files can be added to the locker until space has been reclaimed.
Documents already on SkyDrive will not disappear, even if the 7GB free limit has been exceeded. They can be moved out of SkyDrive and to a local system at any time.
Microsoft isn't the first developer to reduce the functionality of expired consumer software: Antivirus vendors have been using the tactic for years.
Symantec's well-known Norton AntiVirus, for example, is sold as one- or two-year licenses, with retail prices of $50 and $80, respectively. When the purchased period expires, the software stops working -- Symantec's firewall is turned off, users cannot run a security scan, and so on -- and new malware signatures cannot be retrieved.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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