Microsoft bows to pressure: Office 2013 is no longer tied to a single computer

Microsoft Office 2013 logo

With the release of Office 2013 Microsoft took the opportunity to review and update the software license agreement in a way that upset just about everyone. The new license tied a retail copy of Office 2013 to a single computer forever. If your machine died, so did the copy of Office installed on it and you’d have to purchase a new license to continue using it.

The new terms clearly stirred up a lot of anger, and Microsoft has now responded to that by updating the license agreement to relax the restriction. Microsoft has stated that in response to “customer feedback,” you can now transfer Office 2013 from one PC to another. The change is effective immediately for anyone using a copy of Office Home and Student, Home and Business, Professional, or the individual Office applications.

The change effectively sees Office revert back to the license restrictions used for Office 2010. You can transfer Office 2013 to a new machine once every 90 days, or more frequently if your hardware fails. You can also transfer ownership to a machine owned by someone else. In all cases, you can’t continue to use it on the previous machine.

This decision will stop the complaints, but you have to wonder why Microsoft ever decided to do this in the first place. Hardware fails, and asking individuals to re-purchase software due to a hardware fault is ridiculous. Lets hope Microsoft has learned from this and doesn’t implement the same restriction again in future for Office or any other applications for that matter.

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Retail copies of Office 2013 are tied to a single computer forever

Microsoft Office 2013 logo

With the launch of Office 2013 Microsoft has seen fit to upgrade the terms of the license agreement, and it’s not in favor of the end user. It seems installing a copy of the latest version of Microsoft’s Office suite of apps ties it to a single machine. For life.

What does that mean in real terms? It means if your machine dies or you upgrade to a new computer you cannot take a copy of Office 2013 with you to new hardware. You will need to purchase another copy, which again will be tied to the machine it is installed upon forever.

This license change has been confirmed by The Age’s reporter Adam Turner after several frustrating calls to Microsoft’s tech support and PR departments. It effectively turns Office 2013 into the equivalent on the Windows OEM license where you get one chance to use it on a single piece of hardware.

Microsoft Office 2013 apps

On previous versions of Office it was a different story. The suite was associated with a “Licensed Device” and could only be used on a single device. But there was nothing to stop you uninstalling Office and installing it on another machine perfectly legally. With that option removed, Office 2013 effectively becomes a much more expensive proposition for many. As a reminder, Office 2013 costs anywhere from $140 to $400 depending on the version chosen (Office Home & Student, Office Home & Business, or Office Professional), all of which carry the new license agreement.

Of course, Microsoft has a solution to this in the form of Office 365. Instead of buying a retail copy tied to a single machine, you could instead subscribe to Office 365, which is tied to the user not the hardware, and can be used across 5 PCs or 4 Macs at any one time. But subscriptions aren’t for everyone, and eventually you end up paying more for the software.

It’s more likely these new license terms will push users to choose an alternative to Office 2013 or Office 365. Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are free and good enough for the consumer market. Google is also continuing to push its free-to-use Google Docs as an alternative to Office.