How To Fix Outlook ‘Unlicensed Product’ Error?

Several Outlook users are reporting that they see the ‘Unlicensed Product’ error at every startup despite paying a monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription to Office 365 and Office 2016. The issue is not OS exclusive as it’s reported on Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

Outlook Unlicensed Product

Since you might be dealing with a common network inconsistency, the best way to get started when troubleshooting for the ‘Unlicensed Product’ is to run the Activation troubleshooter compatible with Office 365 and Office 2016.

If no viable fix gets recommended, you should do some adjustments and manually remove every element involving office activation via CMD, Registry Editor, and Credentials Manager and see if that fixes the issue for you.

In case it doesn’t, it’s very likely that you’re dealing with some kind of local corruption issue. If this scenario is applicable, you should attempt to fix your Office installation using the Online Repair procedure.

Method 1: Running the Activation troubleshooter

As it turns out, if the issue is being caused by a fairly common activation glitch, you should be able to fix the issue automatically by running the Windows Activation troubleshooter on the Office suite that is triggering the ‘Unlicensed Product’ error.

This built-in utility holds a series of generic troubleshooting steps that can be applied automatically in case a familiar scenario is discovered. A lot of users have confirmed that this operation was successful and the instructions below allowed them to fix the problem swiftly.

Here is a step by step guide on running the activation troubleshooter on the affected Office suite in order to resolve the ‘Unlicensed Product’ error:

  1. Visit this link (here) from your default browser in order to download the latest version of the Activation Troubleshooter. This utility will work for Office 365, Office 2019 and Office 2016.
  2. Once the operation is complete, open the .diagcab file that you just downloaded and click on the Advanced hyperlink.
    Accessing the Advanced menu
  3. Next, ensure that the box associated with Apply repair automatically is checked, then click Next to advanced to the next menu.
    Starting the Activation Troubleshooter
  4. Wait until the utility detects any issues that you’re having with your Office licenses. In case a viable repair scenario was identified, click on Apply this fix and wait for the fix to be applied.
    Apply this fix

    Note: Depending on the nature of the problem, you might need to do some steps manually in order to apply the recommended fix.

  5. Once the operation is complete, restart your computer and wait for the next startup to complete.

In case the same problem is persisting, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 2: Resetting Office Activation

As it turns out, this ‘Unlicensed Product’ error is quite common for users that frequently switch devices that use a single license subscription or for companies that frequently add or change Office 365 tenants. This problem can also be facilitated by the fact that some organizations decide to roam credentials to simply sign in.

If this scenario is applicable, you should be able to fix the issue by clearing 4 different locations in order to reset the activation and install Office again in a clean state.

The procedure below involves checking the license status through the use of an ‘ospp.vbs:‘ script and then uninstalling the keys corresponding to previous Office programs that might interfere with the validation procedure.

To reset the entire Office activation, follow the instructions below:

  1. Ensure that Outlook, Word, Excel and every other program belonging to the Office suite is completely closed and no associated background process is running.
  2. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Inside the Run text box, type ‘cmd’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated Command Prompt window.
    Running the Command Prompt

    Note: When prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant admin access.

  3. Inside the elevated CMD window, type the following command and press Enter to view the Office 365 license that’s currently being used:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft office\office15>cscript ospp.vbs /dstatus

    Note: From the outputted license key that is used, make note of the last 5 characters of the installed product key since you’ll need at the next step

  4. Next, type the following command and press Enter to uninstall the Office Product key:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft office\office15>cscript ospp.vbs /unpkey:“Last 5 of installed product key”

    Note: Keep in mind that the “Last 5 of installed product key” is simply a placeholder. You will need to replace that part with the last 4 characters of the installed product key (fetched at step 3).

  5. After running the command key above, you will see a message with the ‘Product Key uninstall successful‘ message. If you see this message, take it as confirmation that the operation was successful and close the elevated CMD prompt.
    Uninstalling the Office product key
  6. Open up another Run dialog by pressing Windows key + R again. Next, type ‘regedit’ and press Enter to open up the Registry Editor utility.
    Running the Registry Editor
  7. Inside the Registry Editor, navigate to the following location and by using the menu on the right or by pasting the location directly into the navigation bar and pressing Enter to get there instantly:
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0 or 16.0\Common\Identity\Identities
  8. with the Identity key selected, right-click every subfolder and click on Delete to remove it.
    Deleting each identity belonging to Office
  9. Once every Identity key is deleted, you can safely close the Registry Editor.
  10. Next, press Windows key + R to open up another Run command. Inside the text box, type ‘control.exe /name Microsoft.CredentialManager‘ and press Enter to open up the Credential Manager.
    Opening Credential Manager via CMD
  11. Once you’re inside the Credential Manager, select Windows Credentials under Manage your Credentials.
    Accessing the Windows Credential Manager
  12. Next, scroll down through the list of Generic Credentials and locate any entry credentials corresponding to Office15 and office 16. As soon as you spot them, click once to expand on them, then click on Remove to get rid of them.
    Removing the Office Credentials
  13. Once every credential has been removed from the vault, reboot your computer and activate your Office license from scratch once the next startup sequence is complete.

In case the same issue is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 3: Repairing the Office Installation

If the method above didn’t help you to fix the issue. you’re likely encountering the ‘Unlicensed Product’ error due to some type of local corruption originating in the Office installation folder. In most cases, this problem will start occurring after an unexpected machine interruption or after an Antivirus scan ended up quarantining some items belonging to the Office installation.

In this case, you should be able to fix the issue by repairing the Office installation in order to resolve any type of corruption that might be responsible for the ‘Unlicensed Product’ error.

Follow the instructions below for step by step instructions on repairing the Office installation:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features menu.
    Type appwiz.cpl and Press Enter to Open Installed Programs List
  2. Inside the Programs and Features menu, scroll down through the list of installed applications and locate the Office installation that you’re having issues with. Once you see it, right-click on the listing associated with Office and choose Change from the newly appeared context menu.
    Accessing the repair menu of the Microsoft Office installation
  3. Inside the repair window, click on the Online Repair option from the list of available options and wait for the operation to complete. Keep in mind that you need a stable Internet connection in order to go for this repair strategy.
    Online Repair Office Installation
  4. After the operation is complete, reboot your machine and see if the ‘Unlicensed Product’ error is fixed once the next startup is complete.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.