Microsoft execs have done an about-face on the Office 2013 license transfer issue. After denying consumers the right to transfer licenses of the productivity software to another PC when their computer fails or they purchase a new workstation, Microsoft has decided to offer a green light.
About two weeks ago, Microsoft had posted on The Microsoft Office Blog about "Office 2013 and Office 365 installations and transferability." comparing Office 2010 and Office 2013 licenses.
"The Office 2013 software is licensed to one computer for the life of that computer and is non-transferable (consistent with the rights and restrictions of Office 2010 PKC)," wrote Jevon Fark of the Microsoft Office Team. "In the event that a customer buys the Office 2013 software and installs it on a PC that fails under warranty, the customer can contact support to receive an exemption to activate the Office 2013 software on the replacement PC."
Understanding the Terms
What a difference two weeks makes. Fark on Wednesday posted a new blog entitled, "Office 2013 now transferable." Based on customer feedback, he wrote, Microsoft has 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," Fark said. "Previously, customers could only transfer their Office 2013 software to a new device if their PC failed under warranty."
The 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 transferability provision to the Retail License Terms of the Software License Agreement for Microsoft Office 2013 Desktop Application Software reads:
"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 Office 365 Factor
We caught up with Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his insights into why Microsoft changed -- and then changed back -- its licensing agreement on Office 2013. When asked if it was the right move, he told us he didn't know if it was right or not but it's great for consumers.
"From Microsoft's perspective, it would have been great if they could have leveraged people more towards the subscription but I think consumers can only benefit from the changes," Miller said.
By "subscription" he means Office 365. Microsoft last week rolled out several new versions and new pricing for Office 365 in an effort to drive more people to its desktop-plus-online model.
"When companies make changes to licensing they don't generally tell you the motive behind them, but it's their business and they sometimes have to tweak things to suit the business. Sometimes they have to undo them, but it doesn't happen often," Miller said. "It's a good thing to see Microsoft adjusting to customer feedback."