Microsoft reverses one-PC Office 2013 licensing restriction

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Following a wave of criticism over the licensing terms for the retail version of Office 2013, which essentially tied your version of the software to a single computer for ever, Microsoft has amended the agreement with a transferability provision to allow users to move the productivity suite to another computer up to once every 90 days. The change is effective immediately and covers Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, Office Professional 2013, and all of the standalone Office 2013 applications.

Under the previous terms, if you ever needed to reset your machine you could reinstall Office as well, but if died or got stolen, or if you simply upgraded to a new machine you couldn’t transfer the license even after uninstalling it from the old one. The only exception was if a computer had died while under warranty.

Microsoft clarified that these were the same licensing rights as the Product Key Card (PKC) version of Office 2010 -- those that come preloaded with new PC purchases and require users to buy a product key to activate. Of course, 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 had been demoted to OEM status.

As you might expect there was some 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.

Truth be told that’s not really a bad deal for households and small businesses that need to run Office on multiple computers, but for the rest of users the updated, consumer-friendlier agreement is welcome news. The price of your new or upgraded laptop won't include a whole new Office 2013 license as well.

Last month we also noted that the licensing restriction essentially meant a $20 to $50 price hike over the equivalent Office 2010 PKC editions. Now, you still don’t get as many installs as the pricier Full Package Version of Office 2010, but the transferability clause at least makes this a fairer proposition overall.

  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

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