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Troubleshooting and FAQs for Microsoft Office - Knowledgebase / Software / Microsoft Office - OIT Service Center

Troubleshooting and FAQs for Microsoft Office

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Which Microsoft Office should I install?

Are you a Brown Student?

Are you a Brown-paid Faculty or Staff on a Brown-Owned Computer?

Are you Brown-paid Faculty or Staff on a Personally-Owned Computer?

What is Microsoft Office 365?

Brown's implementation of Microsoft Office 365 allows Brown-paid faculty, staff, and students to use the Office components on up to 5 devices while an active member of the Brown community. Your Office 365 subscription allows you to download and use the full version of Microsoft Office Professional for Windows or Mac, or the versions of the Office Apps for iPad and Android.  The feature sets between Mac/Windows/iOS/Android are slightly different, but all available apps for each operating system are licensed for use.

The software will check in automatically to make sure you are still an active member of the community. If you aren't able to log in for 30 days (for example, if you are not connected to the internet), the software will operate in read-only mode. You must connect to the internet and log in periodically to maintain your access.  If you change your Brown password, you may be asked to reenter your password.

I'm not a Brown-paid faculty, staff, or student. Can I get a discount on Office?

As long as you have an "" address, you qualify for a discounted one-year auto-renewal subscription of Office 365 University for PC or Mac. After one year, the software expires, and you may auto-renew for $69.99 each year. Order here.

I'm logging in with my usual information but I see a message "Incorrect User ID or Password" - what should I do?

Make sure you are logging in at with your Brown username and the password for your Brown username. 

Do I need an Internet connection to install and run the software?

To install the software initially, you need an internet connection. In general, to use the 365 version of Microsoft Office, you do not need an internet connection.  However, the software occasionally checks in to determine whether you are still an active member of the Brown community.  If your computer does not check in for 30 days, the Office installation will go into a limited mode, where you cannot modify or save new documents.

Why can't I download certain Office software like OneNote?

If you are using a Mac, you can only install the software that is available for Mac - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Additional software is available for Windows.

What happens when I graduate or leave Brown employment?

Student Advantage is only available for active students at Brown. Approximately 30 days after departure, your software will go into read-only mode.  Microsoft will offer you an opportunity to purchase a subscription to the consumer version of Office 365 so you can continue to use the software.  Any files you create using Office 365 will be accessible to licensed users - the files themselves do not go dormant when your subscription stops.

I get an error message that says “You don’t have a license to use Office 365” - why?

This service is only available for students (undergraduate, graduate, and medical), and Brown-paid faculty and staff.  Inactive students, and other affiliate types will get this error message after logging in. If you see this error message, check with the IT Service Center to make sure your account is in the correct group.

I get a prompt to create a Microsoft Account or an error creating a Microsoft Account - why?

During the installation process, you may be prompted to create a Microsoft Account - this will allow you to store files on a cloud server run by Microsoft. This is not directly related to the installation and storage of your data files on your computer, and is an optional step for advanced users.  If you create the account, you will be choosing a separate user account and password to be used only for Microsoft services. You should not use the same password that you use for Brown services. If you need support for storage of files in the Microsoft cloud, you will need to contact Microsoft directly for support, since the service is not run by Brown. 

What if I am reformatting my computer or get a new computer? Can I deactivate my license?

Once you have installed at least one copy, you will see a list of devices on which you have installed Office 365 when you log in to You can deactivate a device by clicking the deactivate button in the list. Deactivating a device prevents it from counting against your 5 installations.

Do mobile devices count against my five computer limit?

No - the exception is the Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, which are laptop/tablet crossovers.  When you choose Office Mobile or OneNote from the download portal, you will be prompted to send a text message to your device that will help you install the appropriate mobile app.

When I log in on a mobile device, it prompts me to connect to a Sharepoint Site. How do I use this on a mobile device?

Because of the way that mobile devices leverage Microsoft's services, use of these devices requires a personal SkyDrive account.  If you do not already have a Microsoft account, you can create one for free at Once you have a SkyDrive account, you can "add a place" to your mobile device configuration, and save Office documents to your account.  If you create the account, you will be choosing a separate user account and password to be used only for Microsoft services. You should not use the same password that you use for Brown services. If you need support for storage of files in the Microsoft cloud, you will need to contact Microsoft directly for support, since the service is not run by Brown.

What's Office 2019?

Office 2019, available on, is the same software, but for Brown-owned computers. Office 2019 needs to be installed while on the Brown network so that activation is successful.  Once activated, the software will need to check in every 180 days to remain activated. These Windows and Mac versions can be downloaded and installed on any Brown-owned computers, or in some departments, can be sent directly to your computer via management tools.  The functionality is identical between the Brown-licensed version and the Office 365 version, but the way they are installed is different.  In contrast to the non-365 copy, Office 365 is licensed for personally-owned computers.  Office 365 comes with "Home Use" - you can download and install the full Office version for Mac and Windows on computers you own personally.  The software will stay active as long as you are employed at Brown.  See Office 365 Download Instructions for the best way to put it on your device.

What if I need Visio or Project?

Visio 2019 and Project 2019 only install with Office 2019. Licenses for these must be purchased separately. They are not part of Office 365. Please contact for assistance.

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