What Are My Restrictions With "Non-commercial Use" Software?


Basically I want to start a company. I realize you cannot use this software for commercial purposes; hence the name. Basically I have lots of "Non-commercial" software installed on my main computer.

These are what are installed:

  • Microsoft Office "Non-commercial"
  • Free Virus Software ("Non-commercial", Advira)
  • [Remains of "Non-commercial" software that is uninstalled]

What I am doing is using a process that requires a working computer to set up another computer that I will use for my business. (More specifically Raspberry Pi with Debian- ignore this if you don't know what it is because it doesn't matter.) Microsoft will not allow me to install MS Office on any computer besides a personal one. Will creating another computer used for business on a personal computer make make the personal computer
commercial, thus I broke the EULA?

Please back your information with articles and don't post opinions; I need solid facts. No Wikipedia. (I love Wikipedia but I don't want to base legal decisions of a publicly edited site.) Any help appreciated. I would be open to solutions that will not cost me anything; I am basically broke and will need every penny for actual start up of my company, not new software and computers. Thanks in advance.

Brief Description (If you're confused):

  • I have Computer 1 and Computer 2.
  • Computer 1 has non-commercial software for personal computer ONLY.
  • Computer 2 isn't functional. It needs another computer to "Supply" the software to make it functional.
  • The only working computer I have access to is Computer 1.
Will using Computer 1 make Computer 1 ** commercial?** Thus I could get sued because I broke the EULA

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asked Feb 1 '13 at 09:33
Annonomus Person
204 points
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  • I'm really confused now. You had originally said you were using MS Office. In fact, your answer still lists it (first, for that matter). In my personal opinion, asking about what to do about "non-commercial" or "personal use" applications in general is a great question for this site. But asking about one very specific program begins to constrain it, and makes it less helpful to others in the future. I guess I'm saying I liked your original question better. – rbwhitaker 9 years ago
  • I just added that note. **I listed MS Office to say that it is installed.** I knew already what "elssar" said, I was wondering if the downloading of the OS to a RPI (basically setting up a computer with a process that requires a working computer) if that would make my personal computer not personal therefore meaning I broke the EULA. That's what I was trying to say. "elssar" misunderstood my question, though I thank him for his time. I will edit again. – Annonomus Person 9 years ago

2 Answers


From a 2008 blog post by a Microsoft program manager - No, Microsoft Office Home and Student cannot be used in a business

“Licensed Device. You may install one copy of the software on three licensed devices in your household for use by people who reside there. The software is not licensed for use in any commercial, non-profit, or revenue generating business activities.

And he reiterates it in the next paragraph -

...it is licensed for installation in your home and NOT for use in any commercial, non-profit, or revenue generating business activities. It is the edition for HOME and STUDENT use, NOT business use.

That makes it pretty clear. Even though this is a little dated, don't think that their position has changed on this.

You haven't mentioned the AV software, but I expect that their terms would be similar.

It would be safer for you to get a commercial licence for these software. Or you could just start using software that is free for commercial use. Libre Office is a decent replacement for MS Office. There are a few quirks, but for most use cases, I don't think there should be a problem. There is also Google Drive.

For anti-viruses, this blog post lists few that are free for commercial use -

The only free antivirus that can be use for home, commercial and educational use is Comodo Internet Security, Spyware Terminator, Moon Secure AV and PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition.

Though I'm sure sure that these are the only free for commercial use AVs.
answered Feb 1 '13 at 12:55
367 points
  • Nice points, but installing windows on a Raspberry Pi is unlikely (impossible) - nor is getting wine to run on such a low power device. – Jim Galley 9 years ago
  • True, but I was only addressing the licencing concerns. – Elssar 9 years ago
  • **Two things:** 1.) RPI has a different architecture than Intel processors do. 2.) **I am not using Microsoft Office. I am asking with my anti-virus software (Advira Free) does this allow me to write the OS to a SD card and use the RPI for business use? I know that you cannot use these directly for commercial use and they are installed on my home computer. What I am trying to figure out is it legal to use my home computer to get my business computer up and running.** There is a big difference but I don't know if that difference would stand in court if they tried to sue me. – Annonomus Person 9 years ago
  • IF you really care, ask a lawyer. Everything else is an opinion. – Jim Galley 9 years ago


I am not a lawyer, but if your only action on your personal computer is to set up some install media for your business computer, I don't think you have any risk at all.

If you were ever audited by an organization such as the BSA for EULA compliance, you are not going to be asked "what computer did you use to prepare the install media for this computer?" Instead, you are going to be asked to prove that you have the licenses for the software that you are using now, which you will if you're using Debian on the Pi.

For example, if you burnt a music CD on your personal computer and stuck it in your business computer and listened to it, that wouldn't make your business computer "personal," even by the strictest IRS (or other tax agency if you are outside the US) standards. Preparing software installation media is in the same class conceptually.

answered Feb 2 '13 at 17:56
Patrick Kenny
277 points
  • Very descriptive. Thank you. – Annonomus Person 9 years ago

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