In my earlier review of the new Office I noted that The retail versions of Office 2013 were locked to the computer upon which it is first installed and unless that computer fails under warranty it could not be transferred to another computer. This created a howl of protest from customers considering an upgrade to the latest version of Office.
Well, today Microsoft blinked and quietly announced on a blog that it was changing the license terms related to transfers:
Based on customer feedback we have changed the Office 2013 retail license agreement to allow customers to transfer the software from one computer to another. This means customers can transfer Office 2013 to a different computer if their device fails or they get a new one. Previously, customers could only transfer their Office 2013 software to a new device if their PC failed under warranty.
While the license agreement accompanying Office 2013 software will be updated in a future release, this change is effective immediately and applies to Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, Office Professional 2013 and the standalone Office 2013 applications. These transferability options are equivalent to those found in the Office 2010 retail license terms. The updated text is as follows:
Updated transferability provision to the Retail License Terms of the Software License Agreement for Microsoft Office 2013 Desktop Application Software:
Can I transfer the software to another computer or user? You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you, but not more than one time every 90 days (except due to hardware failure, in which case you may transfer sooner). If you transfer the software to another computer, that other computer becomes the “licensed computer.” You may also transfer the software (together with the license) to a computer owned by someone else if a) you are the first licensed user of the software and b) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement before the transfer. Any time you transfer the software to a new computer, you must remove the software from the prior computer and you may not retain any copies..
The blog post went on to say that Microsoft is “grateful for the feedback behind this change in Office licensing.” Only once before have I seen Microsoft react to customer angst this quickly that was over similarily restrictive transfer terms for Windows Vista. In than case Microsoft also backed off in less than a Month. In this case the Januar 29th Office launch license terms banned any transfers and complaints began instantly. In a first attempt at damage control, on February 19, Microsoft took to its corporate blog, adding a footnote to a comparison chart that said: “An exception [to the no-transfer rule] is granted when the software is on a PC that is replaced under warranty.”
This concession did nothing to stem the complaints but it seems someone high up in Redmond was listening, because today’s announcement is a complete rollback of that controversial set of terms. In fact, the new terms for Office 2013 are less stringent than those that applied to Office 2010, sold via Product Key Cards (PKCs) which contained a not transfer clause.
While the license changes are effective today it will take some time for it to work its way through the system so until then anyone who wants to transfer an Office 2013 license, regardless of the reason, will need to call customer support to make the change.
None of this changes the face that for anyone who wants to use Office on multiple computers Office 365 is the better deal.