Office 365 "The fine print" popup message - is it legitimate?

Glenn Steinback
Occasional Visitor



I have been happily using Office 365 (mostly Word) for many years, and I have never had any problems with any of the products. This morning when I loaded Word I was confronted by a pop-up message called "The fine print" asking me to accept terms of use in order to continue. I have been using Word for several years on this computer and I have never seen anything like this, I just want to confirm that this pop-up message is in fact legitimate and not some form of spyware or adware impersonating Microsoft.


Any assistance would be greatly appreciated,



Here is a screenshot of the pop-up:MSWord-TheFinePrintv2.png

122 Replies
Hi Glenn

I haven't seen that particular prompt before (I am a corporate user of O365) however Microsoft do prompt when important updates are made to Office 365 so this appears on the surface as normal to me.

Have you recently upgraded your office product from an older version like Office 2010 to Office 365?

It's also possible that the auto update has downloaded a new feature update which is where the prompt may be coming from.

Best of luck!


I received the same message when I tried to open excel this morning.  I've had it on my computer for a year and now, out of the blue, this message pops up and prevents me from using excel until I check the terms of use box.

What is up with this Microsoft?  

On a remote session with a client that has Office 365 Business Premium, staring at this window.  First report we've received. Concerned it was a virus now it seems this might be yet another Microsoft Flop by Design??? WTH? They just don't get life in a real world.

I saw this message earlier today after updating to Version 1807 (Build 10325.20082 Click-to-Run) Monthly Channel. Prior to this version/build have never seen this message before after updating Office 365 ProPlus.

The user is concerned that the pop-up may be malware, and you're claiming to be from the Microsoft Help Center, but you're directing the user to a supposed site???  If I was a user concerned about malware, I would not click on the link you provided.  I would want to see a verified / verifiable Microsoft domain name in the link.

Right? Hopefully no one reading this becomes a victim of that scam! 

@AS @Anna Chu @Dylan Snodgrass @Eric Starker


Sorry for the wide net I've cast, but wasn't sure who could help with actioning the concerning post above by coolingseoblack15 (very suspicious)!


Thanks for keeping us safe.







Thanks Damien for flagging - you can always count on us being responsive to posts like this. To best do this, hover over the 'down arrow' (˅) icon in the top right hand of the suspicious message, and you can flag the content as inappropriate or spam. Our team will be right on it!

Thanks for your super speedy response, @Anna Chu!


I've completely forgotten about that option as I have never had to report anyone before now (most folks are great on MTC as you know).


Hopefully it gets actioned ASAP before someone falls for the scam!




Customer of mine gets same message EVERY time he starts an office application.. even after clicking accept.. it keeps returning .. any news ? 


We have Office 2016, since we're just not interested in participating in the "aas" business model, and also got this pop-up this morning.  Not knowing what it was, one of the doctors in our practice didn't want to agree and just X'ed out of it.  Word then just shut down.  


What kind of corporate practice is this to deny us the use of a program that we purchased?

Looks like they jumped on the scammer - but how about the original problem?  If you don't click on the accept, you cannot use the software - that goes for the entire office suite.  Out of the blue, this thing comes up and Microsoft holds us hostage - we are customers that paid for their product and agreed to terms of service then.  

It is frustrating that the giant (and profitable) tech companies outsource the problems they create to user groups like this and expect them to solve them.  And - we can't go elsewhere, we are held captive.  If I could, I would.  I use these products because I have to, not because I want to.  

C'mon Microsoft!  Fix the problem you created.

Hi Anna,

Please respond, or refer us to who can respond to the original issue in this stream - this microsoft office 2016 "the fine print" popup.  I purchased microsoft office "Home and Student" 2016 several years ago and it has worked fine up to now.  Suddenly today when I open a Word, Excel or PPT - any office doc I am seeing this "the fine print" popup. It doesn't seem like a legitimate thing from Microsoft and I don't want to click the "Accept and start..." button until Microsoft confirms it is for real, or what to do about it...

The answer I just got from Microsoft Commercial Support was to just click accept then it will go away. I don't really have a warm fuzzy feeling about that if I'm honest.

This is happening now to me as well (I'm based in Italy, the writing in the pop-up is in Italian, but still completely non-sense)... I've switched off my laptop in the office 1h ago, and reconnected now from home to finish the document I was working on and ... no way to use Office!

As othe users said already, this has to be fixed immediately, where is Microsoft, what do they wait for to give an explanation considering it is happening since this morning ?????



Thanks for flagging. The post was removed and we've banned this user. 

Has anyone determined the source of "The Fine Print" pop up yet?  I am starting to see it in my user community.  If it is Microsoft it seems heavy-handed, if it isn't Microsoft then are they aware that it is spreading?

This didn't affect any of my computers with Office versions older than 2016.  .

The suspicion of my users affected seems reasonable and their inability to use Office is entirely unreasonable!

This afternoon I was using Office 365(version 16/2016) and one minute it was working but not the next due to the "the fine print popup" people are dealing with. I have not heard from Microsoft and won't accept it until that happens. However, I would like to remind folks that alternatives for accessing your email is through a web browser ( if Outlook has locked you out. Other alternatives such as libreOffice ( are good alternatives for Word/Excel/etc. until Microsoft can address the issue.

Thanks Eric. We all appreciated the quick response!

Hi Wim and all


There may be a registry issue with your customers computer where they don't have the permissions to make it stick. Maybe try this link and see if it helps?


In terms of the pop up, when you install office (and other products) they do ask you to accept the terms of use or the licensing agreement to use the software (e.g. to indemnify them in case of damage, etc). We all accept the conditions and most people don't read them.


From the look of the image and from what you are all experiencing, it appears that Microsoft may have made some changes to the licence agreement where they need you to accept the new terms.


If you want to use the software, you will have to accept the agreement and the problem should go away.


Just my thoughts! Best of luck friends.




Glenn and folks troubled with Office 365,


I am very disappointed with Office 365 and will be looking for alternatives and compensation.

Before I leave I did further investigating and ended up reinstalling Office 365, a product I already paid for. The steps I took under Windows 10 were as follows....(please backup your computer and track down your account/password info before trying the following).

1. Open "Apps & Features".  Easiest way is to find this is type "Apps" in the search box next to the Windows start button/start menu

2. Scroll down to find "Microsoft Office 365" in the right hand side of Apps & Features and click it. This should open up a couple buttons (modify & uninstall). Click the "modify" button.

3. After clicking the modify button you should be presented with options on how to repair Office.

Sadly the quick repair option didn't work so I selected "Online Repair" then clicked the "Repair" button.

Best of luck.

To further clarify, when I repaired Office 365 I had one additional step to "activate" it by simply opening an Office application and activating it with an email and password for the account. The good news was when I reinstalled Office 365 and opened Outlook I did not loose any emails. This sure wasted a lot of time, business, and sanity though.

Hope Microsoft gets this under control soon.

I can understand that Microsoft Office 365 is "Software as a Service" so they can change the licensing agreement from time to time, but I have never subscribed to that.  We have always bought our Office software with the understanding that we own it.  It costs more upfront, but we own it and don't have to "renew our lease" every year.  We are still using Office 2010 on some of our machines and it works fine.  


After we paid more to buy our Office Suites, it seems unfair for Microsoft to foist new licensing agreements on us and hold our already paid for software hostage until we accept their new terms.

What I'm not understanding is why a 'so-called' legitimate company is holding subscribers hostage unless they accept "the fine print"!!!! The product was working fine and now I cannot use it unless I accept. That's the same as me coming to your house and telling you how and when to clean it.

If you're going to hold subscribers hostage unless they accept your terms, you owe us full reimbursement for subscribing. I don't think anyone who posted their disgust with this 'accept our bloated update' expected to NOT BE ABLE TO USE A PRODUCT THAT THEY PAID TO HAVE ACCESS TO FOR A YEAR! As it currently stands I am unable to work at home. Why not give us an option to either accept or not....We paid for it!

Hi James
I get where you are coming from and the feelings around it. Some other products do that which makes me feel similar to you! 
My suggestion would be to go with Office 2016 rather than the Office 365 cloud version as you did with Office 2010. That would mean the software is yours for as long as you want to use (or until you upgrade) it whereas Office 365 will evolve over time giving you the feature updates as part of your subscription.
If anyone is interested in the difference, some good articles are floating around on Office 2016 vs Office 365 pros and cons:
Hope that helps!
Cheers & best wishes
I did NOT update nor upgrade Office 2016. Why is microsoft forcing this on paying customers? Besides, I'm quite happy with the end results from all of my printers. That being said, I don't need it. Microsoft, I am not impressed. Your tactics take the option of 'choice' away from EU's

@ annachu

There's no \/ in the top right corner of the window. There's 2 options 'X' to close or "Accept and start" the MS app I'm attempting to launch

Today would really be a very nice option for a fix to be applied. MS, stop holding your customers hostage!!!!

Hi Helene 


If you are on Office 365, I would equate it more to you renting a house and your landlord adjusting the terms of your rental per your rental contact.


The Microsoft End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) would specify clearly the right to do updates to their service as needed where users must accept the EULA to continue to use the Office 365 subscription. Of course no one ever reads the EULA and if you want to see some hilarious examples of EULA, take a look here:


When you stop using Office 365, your data will eventually be deleted and the apps you use will become read only (not sure if they cease to work after a while or not as it's never happened to me).


Per the post I made just after yours, if you shift to Office 2016 you will have control over your software and will only receive security updates (and possibly service packs with new features) to maintain your product.


This sort of thing happening is common and will continue as more software shifts to Software as a Service (SaaS). Adobe does the same thing as an example.


Hope it all goes well and best wishes to you!





P.S. Having just seen your other post in relation to something I said earlier. If you are using Office 2016, you may have had auto update give you an update that could have triggered the EULA prompt. It's hard to tell as I don't use Office 2016 but I wouldn't discount the option.

Thanks Damien....I understand that MS has the rights to change/update EULA. However, we all know that not every user applies every win update, etc. My major concern is that as a subscriber, I have the same right, to update or not. Also, I should (I say this loosely), have the right to use the product 'as is' and if it fails to perform as intended it's on me.

Most importantly, my major concern is that no one seems to know whether or not this is legit. Also, not getting any response from MS doesn't  alleviate my concerns either. This whole situation is eerily similar to what happens with ransom ware and I really, don't want to blow up my unit on a lark.

I agree with you about Microsoft responding to help clarify the situation. I've sent a private message to @Eric Starker suggesting the samething a short time ago.


Hopefully this will get cleared up from the source!




Thanks, I really appreciate it. I've got work to do and deadlines to meet :)

Our team is aware of this thread and have reached out for further response.


Unfortunately, I'm not a subject matter expert on this topic myself, but please be patient while we reach out. Thank you. 



I don't think you are following me.  I DID opt to buy Microsoft Office 2016 instead of Office 365 for exactly this reason!  I paid extra so that I would not be subject to the changing licensing.  I paid full price to own this office suite and now am being denied access to it.  


The worst part is the doctor in our office who uses outlook to manage email.  She has now lost access to all her correspondence!  One colleague in Japan went ahead and hit accept and was aghast when his computer began downloading something.


I imagine that tomorrow, there will be widespread outrage.  


Hi James

Sounds nasty but Eric Starker is on the case so I'm looking forward to hearing the details as we all are!

When you say the Doctor has lost all correspondence (not ideal), is that because she didn't hit Accept? Are the correspondences still in webmail?

Hope she gets back online soon. Being disconnected from things in todays world is very uncomfortable!

Unable to use any of our Microsoft Office programs due to the fine print popup message. On the phone for an hour with tech support and unable to remote access in. Everytime we tried there were no I accept or I don't accept buttons and then the screen would change to An error occured.

Work from home and need this fixed ASAP ! Windows Professional 7 , can't upgrade to 10 as several of the programs used for home and work will not run on it.

Hope the fix occurs quickly

Thanks Damien,

I clicked "accept" with no adverse results.

"My suggestion would be to go with Office 2016 rather than the Office 365 cloud version as you did with Office 2010. That would mean the software is yours for as long as you want to use (or until you upgrade) it whereas Office 365 will evolve over time giving you the feature updates as part of your subscription."



This is not just happening to Office 365 cloud subscribers. We are an Office 2016 Professional install base in my office. We are locked out of our programs. We have no subscriptions to Microsoft at all. We just want to launch our applications as we did on Friday. 


Thank you for your insight.



Your suggestion to use Office 2016 instead of Office 365 to eliminate "The Fine Print" pop-up is null.  We have multiple Office 2016 products running in our shop and I am seeing the pop-up on about half of them.  It seems the more current the user's MS updates to the OS and Office product are, the more prevalent the message.  I think your idea about the update to the license agreement and the forced acceptance of the new terms, is probably correct.  It would be nice of MS to alert us to this fact, based on the realities of the world we live in.  I instructed my users to not accept the message until we got an answer.  I scanned the machines and did not find malware.  Next step is to accept the message and see what happens.

I had the same thing this morning - I have Office 2016 Professional installed locally (personal install rather than tied to my Office 365 account) however I sign into my work Office 365 account and this popped up ...

For Office 2016, I have accepted the pop-up message on a user's desktop and I regained access to the Office 2016 programs and all documents and worksheets.  I did not get any downloads and the machine scanned clean.  It looks as if your assessment was correct.  I will monitor that machine for a bit and if nothing happens, I will accept the message on the rest of the shop.  However, I do understand the drama, in fact, I was recommending that our users not accept the message.

I work out of my home and I don't have a network or use 365.  I use a single copy of Home / Student.  I have lost DAYS of work and pay due to this.  DAYS.  If I don't work, I don't get paid. 

I'm going to file a consumer complaint with my State's Attorney General over this.  I've had it with Microsoft hijacking my time when I have purchased a product from them legitimately and they have yanked it back from me. 

And - where is their support on this?  Where is the group moderator?  How can they let this go on like this? 

Anna - why aren't you responsive to the initial problem?

Microsoft support is totally unhelpful!  The agent repeatedly refused to answer my question of whether this is a legitimate Microsoft popup.  He had me go through a bunch of steps that disabled my internet security and eventually just led back to accepting the new EULA.


It seems that Microsoft just wants to change the terms of the EULA and if we don't like it we can no longer use the Office software that we bought from them.  


This is totally unacceptable!

Did you read the new EULA? 

Did you knowingly agree to allow Microsoft gather data on you? 

Was that part of the EULA that you originally accepted?  

Do you think it is acceptable for Microsoft to change the terms of the EULA retroactively?

Do you think it acceptable for Microsoft to deny you access to the software you bought from them if you object to this retroactive change?

I have the same pop-up. I have not downloaded any updates, and I have my computer set to not auto-update so I can control when it shuts down. Now it appears that Microsoft is holding me hostage - but wait, maybe it's not Microsoft? Maybe it's a virus? Any answers on this? My 365 subscription is good for another several months, yet I cannot use the program. Why?


In the future, Microsoft -- if this is you -- please allow a reasonable period of time to respond to EULA changes, and allow me to continue using the product!

I asked support repeatedly and they seemed to equivocate.
I am in the process of reading the new EULA but I don't have a copy of the EULA I originally signed to compare it to.
I do notice that you have to agree to allow Microsoft to gather data on you.
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