Microsoft Office for €20 - too good to be true?

In this digital age, a lot of media is consumed digitally instead of good old physical products. This kind of distribution lets the companies state their own prices of their products directly to their end consumers without middlemen, nor competition from the used market (since you can't really borrow or easily pass a digital license over to someone else). Although, there are still options that doesn't make Steam or the Microsoft Store monopolies of what they have to offer.

Sites like G2A and Kinguin lets regular users sell digital licenses to games and other software which they for whatever reason don't need themselves. On these 3rd party marketplaces, you can obviously find games and other software drastically cheaper than buying it from the source, since it's a bit like shopping second hand on eBay, versus a buying new at a renowned, physical store.

Did I really just buy a pirated Office 2016 for €20?

Personally, I've purchased several games on both Kinguin and G2A especially, and received my codes almost instantly without any trouble at all. However, a few nights ago, I found Microsoft Office 2016 on Kinguin for about €20, which is roughly the asking price of Office 365, per month!

So I gave that a shot and right after shelling out the 20 Euros (which is about the same amount in USD), I got my license key delivered. So, I went on to the official Office setup site where I was asked to log into my Microsoft account, then to type in my Office key. And so far so good, I finally got a download link after some minute of waiting. Opening that up started an online installer of Office 2016 Home and Business, which happened to be the version I had purchased.

After installing, however, things weren't so jolly, though. I got the option to either activate Office using my Microsoft account, or by again punching in the license key. Since I had already supplied my key while I was logged into Microsoft setup page, I figured the software had probably already been linked to my account at this point. That wasn't the case, however, since the activation wizard didn't find any Office license connected to my account.

I then tried the other option, of activating by again typing in the 25 letter long license key. This ended up with this ominous message:



So, clearly the registration key had already been activated and connected to some other user, which made me feel completely ripped off.

After a few more tries, I went back to Kinguin and started a "ticket" with the support team. Two days later I had still not heard a word from them, even though they claim to respond within 24 hours. So I decided to start a live chat with one of their support team members.

And guess what their solution they had to offer;
a new key? Nope.
A refund, then? Of course not.

No, instead they ask me to choose the other option activate over phone. This made me somewhat suspicious, since I know this particular way of activation has been used before to crack Microsoft's activation DRM.



So, I did what they asked for, and in return I asked them if this procedure really gives me a legitimate license that I can connect to my Microsoft account.

The answer to that was more or less "No".

You can read a full transcript of the chat below, but essentially, what the so called Kinguin "support" did was apparently to crack Microsoft's activation control. So what did the €20 get me, exactly? The Kinguin support representative would never admit it, but a pirated version of Office is unfortunately what I'm suspecting...

Rest of the chat with Kinguin - transcript