Microsoft says Office 2013 licensing is nothing new, but it's a price hike in disguise

By on February 20, 2013, 10:16 AM

Last week a number of sites including TechSpot reported on an apparently new licensing restriction for the retail version of Office 2013 that essentially ties your version of the software to a single computer -- not one at a time, but only one PC, forever. If the computer crashes you can reinstall Office, but if dies or you simply upgrade to a new machine you can’t transfer the license, even after uninstalling the suite from the old one.

There's been a lot of discussion about Microsoft using these ‘tactics’ to push its Office 365 subscription package, which allows installations on five machines plus select mobile devices for $99 a year. There’s certainly some truth to that but the company is now hoping to bring some clarity regarding licensing in Office 2013.

In a blog post published yesterday, Office marketing manager Jevon Fark explains that Office 2013 actually features the same licensing rights as the Product Key Card (PKC) version of Office 2010. The latter refers to versions of Office that come preloaded with new PC purchases and require users to buy a product key to activate. According to Fark, this version was chosen by a majority of Office 2010 customers worldwide -- no doubt because it was cheaper and easier considering the software was already installed on the machine.

The problem is with Office 2013 you no longer have the option to choose between PKC or FPP (Full Package Product) and the only retail version available has been demoted to OEM status, which seems overly restrictive considering the price. If you spend $400 on the Professional edition Microsoft expects you to buy another license when upgrading your PC. Even for the basic Home & Student edition at $140 that seems unreasonable.

You'll pay more for the same

One last detail Microsoft omitted is that even though the licensing terms for Office 2013 and Office 2010 PKC match, pricing does not. We’ve added the table below to illustrate the difference but you’re basically paying $20 to $50 more for the equivalent versions of the updated suite. The price hike is in line with a recent update to the Office for Mac 2011 pricing and the end of multi-license packs for that platform.

  Office 2010 FPP Office 2010 PKC Office 2013
Professional Academic $99 -- --
Home & Student $149 $119 $139.99
Home & Business $279 $199 $219.99
Professional $499 $349 $399.99

It's worth noting that Microsoft still hasn't clarified how and if it will enforce the non-transferability policy on Office 2013. Also, for households and small businesses that need to run Office on multiple computers, at $99 per year Office 365 isn’t a bad alternative to the previous FPP version of Office, but some users will undoubtedly will be caught between a restrictive license they don’t want and a recurring subscription they don’t need.




User Comments: 32

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Guest said:

Due to EU law now that you are able to resell software with a perpetual license, I believe that the Microsoft rules unless you purchase for an annual term are illegal in the EU

One good thing that the EU seems to have done!

Guest said:

Therefore all licenses of the package that you purchase for indefinite use have to be Transferable.

Suggest that the story is updated

Guest said:

I sent an e-mail about this to Matthew DeCarlo after his article. I haven't heard anything back from him.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

So they wanna tell me that if my SSD with my office installation crashes & I replace it, I'll be screwed?

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

No, I believe it's tied to the computer itself. Not just the harddrive. So you'd be ok if just your harddrive crashed.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

No, I believe it's tied to the computer itself. Not just the harddrive. So you'd be ok if just your harddrive crashed.

So when I upgrade my rig & do a complete reinstall of everything, then I'm stuffed?

Railman said:

It looks like MS want to persuade users to sign up to 365 in order to cut out the middleman and reduce media production. I wonder how retailers will react to this? I will carry on using 2003 on my PC for the foreseeable future and I am learning Open Office.

As a matter of interest do new laptops still have the starter version of MS Office?

customcarvin customcarvin said:

No, I believe it's tied to the computer itself. Not just the harddrive. So you'd be ok if just your harddrive crashed.

So when I upgrade my rig & do a complete reinstall of everything, then I'm stuffed?

yes.

Nima304 said:

It could be tied to the MAC address on the computer's NIC card. That can't be changed or transferred, so if you replace your computer's motherboard, you're screwed.

Railman said:

It would seem to affect the self build community the most. This could backfire as that community tends to have a high techie count on whom lay persons often consult for advice.

JC713 JC713 said:

All what Office 13' improves on is skydrive integration and a metro interface. They made things worse in most cases like taking away definitions (dictionary) and autocorrecting words.

3 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sorry Microsoft, but if I can't purchase a sub $150 dollar Office (insert version here) and it be transferable, I will not be purchasing your Office product.

Microsoft is not programming for kings and queens, they are programming for common people who has bills to pay. If paying a premium is what it cost to stay with the times, there is no wonder everyone gets stuck in the past with old software.

Edit:

Let me clarify, it took me over two years to get a single business man to purchase Office 2010 because pricing was so high. To make matters worse when they finally did purchase, they didn't purchase the version they were entitled to for business. Microsoft is pricing themselves out of making proper licensing sales. People are not gonna consistently continue to spend their home or automobile payment on Microsoft products just to stay with the times.

JC713 JC713 said:

Sorry Microsoft, but if I can't purchase a sub $150 dollar Office (insert version here) and it be transferable, I will not be purchasing your Office product.

Microsoft is not programming for kings and queens, they are programming for common people who has bills to pay. If paying a premium is what it cost to stay with the times, there is no wonder everyone gets stuck in the past with old software.

Yeah and I bet MS will cut support for MS Office 2010 like they did for Win 7 earlier than you would think to push for their new crap.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Part of this price hike is probably to help pay the fees to the EU... but I do agree that making the license completely non-transferable is a bad thing. Hope they change this very soon.

JC713 JC713 said:

Interesting. I wonder if they will do this non transferable product key thing with Windows with Windows Blue. @LNCPapa Not just EU fees, but also they are in a bad stance with Apple also, that is why people are saying Office for iPad hasn't been released and why MS apps havent been updated for the iPhone 5... and such.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

No, I believe it's tied to the computer itself. Not just the harddrive. So you'd be ok if just your harddrive crashed.

So when I upgrade my rig & do a complete reinstall of everything, then I'm stuffed?

yes.

To hell with them. Good thing I hardly ever use Office and if I ever need to... Open source here I come.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

It could be tied to the MAC address on the computer's NIC card. That can't be changed or transferred, so if you replace your computer's motherboard, you're screwed.

oh no, not the Network Interface Card card!(sorry I had to) but if it were just the mac address, I'd be interested to see if you could dupe it with a usb wireless adapter.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

You can fairly easily spoof a MAC address... is that how it's going to be locked down?

Nima304 said:

You can fairly easily spoof a MAC address... is that how it's going to be locked down?

I'm not sure, but it seems likely. You can spoof a MAC address, but you can't change it. Since most people don't spoof their MAC addresses constantly, it makes sense for MS to tie it a a specific computer that way.

1 person liked this | Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Not a fan of this nonsense and unless they loosen these license restrictions back to the full package version in the next office offering, 2010 will be my last purchase. Probably should slowly start using Open/Libre Office when I can anyway.

JC713 JC713 said:

I'm not sure, but it seems likely. You can spoof a MAC address, but you can't change it. Since most people don't spoof their MAC addresses constantly, it makes sense for MS to tie it a a specific computer that way.

Isn't it tied to the motherboard not the Mac address?

Nima304 said:

Isn't it tied to the motherboard not the Mac address?

What identifying ID on the motherboard could it be feasibly tied to other than the MAC address? The MAC address is burned onto the NIC, which is normally soldered onto the motherboard, and is very easy to check.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What identifying ID on the motherboard could it be feasibly tied to other than the MAC address? The MAC address is burned onto the NIC, which is normally soldered onto the motherboard, and is very easy to check.

It's my understanding that the identifying element is not simply tied to one motherboard component. The MAC address maybe one of the components used but may not be the only component used to identify the motherboard. Correct me if I'm wrong; but would this not be rendered useless, if the motherboards NIC was disabled in the BIOS.

JC713 JC713 said:

It's my understanding that the identifying element is not simply tied to one motherboard component. The MAC address maybe one of the components used but may not be the only component used to identify the motherboard. Correct me if I'm wrong; but would this not be rendered useless, if the motherboards NIC was disabled in the BIOS.

There is always a way around something... maybe they have a backup option lol

Guest said:

Motherboards have serial numbers. [link]

Guest said:

Yep, it's the motherboard, as long as it's the same series. Source: [link]

kebab2000 kebab2000 said:

The EU should just ban MS rubbish outright and be done with it.

supertech supertech said:

I don't agree with some of these "take it or leave it" software licensing terms because at the end of the day, if you piss-off the consumer people are bound to look for alternatives.

If there is a problem when actication, call the activation line and tell them you've reinstalled windows because you had a virus and they will allow you to reactivate.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Where this sort of stuff really hurts is in developing countries. We are a charity working hard to advance education - often giving kids their first experience of even using a computer because they, and the communities they live in, are too poor to be able to buy one. The computers we donate are not new and consequently need to be replaced fairly regularly so transferability of software is essential. We will have to start installing Open Source software instead of Microsoft. Consequently it will be Microsoft that loses out in the longer term as our students will grow up using a different product, which they will most likely stick with in the future (when they do have earning and spending potential as a result of the education they have received).

Chris B. said:

Why does Microsoft have to make having a piece of software or an operating system such a pain in the a$$?

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Consequently it will be Microsoft that loses out in the longer term as our students will grow up using a different product, which they will most likely stick with in the future (when they do have earning and spending potential as a result of the education they have received).
I Agree!!!

Parents that choose to go with open source, have kids that are in the same position as your students. Microsoft had better quit burning bridges today, if they want people to use their product tomorrow.

Railman said:

I don't suppose MS is too worried about developing countries as they must suffer from pirate versions of their products.

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