Office 2013 EULA says the software is bound to one PC forever

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Although you can usually click through most software license agreements with little consequence, you should probably skim Microsoft's terms before spending $140 to $400 on a retail copy of Office 2013 as two key parts have changed from previous versions of the suite.

If you purchased a retail edition of Office 2010, the end-user license agreement (EULA) permits you to install the software on up to two devices at once (a desktop and a laptop) and if you retire one or both of those systems, your license is transferable to new machines.

Neither of those permissions exist with Office 2013. Microsoft's updated EULA only lets you install the boxed editions on one computer, and only that computer -- forever. If we understand the terms right (and they seem pretty clear), you aren't allowed to transfer your license:

"Can I transfer the software to another computer or user? You may not transfer the software to another computer or user. You may transfer the software directly to a third party only as installed on the licensed computer, with the Certificate of Authenticity label and this agreement. Before the transfer, that party must agree that this agreement applies to the transfer and use of the software. You may not retain any copies."

We're not sure how "new" this news is, but it definitely hasn't gotten the exposure it deserves and many TechSpot staffers were surprised to learn about it. The updated EULA essentially demotes retail builds to OEM status, which seems comically restrictive given the price of Office -- especially the Professional edition. Are you really supposed to spend another $400 on a new copy if, say, your computer croaks?

The quoted EULA text above sure seems to suggest so, but Adam Turner of The Age set out to get a concrete statement straight from Microsoft. After various frustrating encounters with the company's PR and tech support departments -- the latter of which was totally clueless about the new terms -- Turner received a candid response: "No, the customer cannot transfer the license from one PC to another PC."

It remains unclear how or if this policy is enforced, though Turner suggests that it may be accomplished through your Microsoft cloud account. It's also unclear how Office 2013 determines what counts as a new computer. Would your license be toast after a RAM upgrade? Turner says he's still waiting on answers to these questions, but it took several days of contacting Microsoft to get the comment above.

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