The bulk of Microsoft's Office revenue comes not from retail sales of the suite, but from enterprise licensing agreements.
"If they undermined that [by giving away Office RT], they would start losing revenue rather than increasing it," Ullman added. In response, Microsoft has inserted new language into its commercial contracts that allows Software Assurance plans or Office 365 subscription programs to bring Office 2013 RT into the workplace as an enabled device.
Like Miller, Ullman said the additional license, or as Microsoft put it, "use rights," may catch some potential customers off guard.
"Buying a Windows RT device is not going to reduce costs," he said of Office 2013 RT's bundling. "That may make some more apprehensive about buying, rethink the value proposition, and perhaps look at competitive devices instead."
Some use cases, he admitted, were tougher to call. What if an employee used her Surface RT tablet, and its Office 2013 Home & Student RT suite, to create documents for work, but did that at home. Was that allowed without an additional license?
"That gets into a very complex issue," said Ullman. "Are you connecting at all to the corporate network, or is this a stand-alone device? Working on a document at home, for work, that's one thing. But if you're accessing the network through a remote protocol, then you're really getting into a corporate licensing issue. The license for Office RT, that then isn't sufficient."
Miller, too, highlighted some iffy areas. "Depending on how you license the server-side technologies of Office, you could also still need Client Access Licenses (CALs). Those aren't included in the Office applications either," Miller said.
Microsoft's expanded Office 365 Portfolio -- it will eventually have six in place by the end of next month, Foley said -- will be one way to gain commercial-use rights for Office 2013 RT.
Office 356 Small Business Premium, for example, will cost $12.50 per month, or $150 annually, per user, for the right to run Office on up to five devices, effectively granting five licenses to that worker. One of those five licenses could conceivably be used to "unlock" a Surface RT tablet's copy of Office 2013 RT for business purposes.
Microsoft has said that those devices can include "select mobile devices" but has not defined what those devices will be.
Another option: Buy a copy of Office Standard 2013 or Office Professional 2013. While neither have been released, the pair will sell for $369.99 and $499.99, respectively. The cheaper $219.99 Office Home & Business 2013, while licensed for commercial use, won't unlock Office 2013 RT.