Microsoft drops Office 2013 licensing restrictions

Owners of the retail version of Office 2013 chaffing over Microsoft Corp.’s controversial end-user licensing agreement which permanently tied the software to the first computer it was loaded into have scored a victory.

The software company yesterday said reversing those licensing terms after hearing from customers who wanted more “flexibility.”

Staring Tuesday morning, Microsoft rolled out the new terms which now allow Office 2013 owners to move the software from one machine to another, said Jevon Franck, senior marketing manager with the Office team. He said Microsoft thought it was a “reasonable, just and fair” thing to do.

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It will take Microsoft about three months to update the Office activation system which allows users to transfer Office 2013 copies by re-entering the software’s 25-character key to activate it on a different machine.  So for the meantime, Frank said, users will need to call Microsoft’s technical support line to finalize a transfer.

The new policy allows people who bought a retail copy of Office 2013 Home and Student, Home and Business or Professional editions to reassign the license to another PC they own or control.

The EULA which accompanied the retail version of Office 2013 originally did not allow owners to delete the software on one machine and then install it on another. Software transfer was prohibited even if the second computer was a replacement for the first which may have been lost, stolen, damaged or worn out. A transfer was only allowed if the PC broke down while under warranty.
This policy raised not a few eyebrows among industry observers who speculated that Microsoft designed the Office 2013 EULA with the intention of making Office 365, the cloud version of the software, more appealing to users.
The now-defunct licensing agreement was not in the consumer’s best interest, according to Daryl Ullman, co-founder and managing director of Emerset Consulting Group. He said buyers were paying more for the software but were not getting the same benefits as they did with earlier versions of Office.
The earlier version of the software, Office 2010 came with a multi-license package, but the cheaper Office 2010 product key cards that came without an installation DVD did not allow license reassignment.

Microsoft had earlier made known its plan to move business users away from an on-premise model. The company said that users “seeking transferability” should consider going with the Office 365 subscription-based model rather than purchase an Office 2013 copy. Subscribers of Office 365 have the right to load the software on up to five devices.

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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