As I discussed at length in a previous article weighing whether to buy Office 2013 or subscribe to Office 365, it seemed Microsoft heavily biased the price point and feature list to favor subscribing to Office 365. One of the factors that contributed to that conclusion was the fact that a license for Office 2013 was tied to the life of a device. If a computer fails under warranty, the user could contact (Microsoft?) support for an exemption to activate Office 2013 on a replacement PC. With Office 2010, a Full Package Product (FPP) was transferable while the Product Key Card purchases were not. Office 2013 only has Product Key Cards available and no Full Package Products.
While Office 365 Home Premium and University product lines allow the installation to be transferred and even installation on more than one device, the Office 2013 counterpart was limited to a single installation and is not transferable Microsoft clarified the matter in a blog post in the middle of last month. In response they received plenty of feedback through the comments and other means, that seem to have actually been heard.
This brings us to today where a new blog post updates the “Retail License Terms” for Office 2013. In short, Office 2013 is now transferable. In length, Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, Office Profession 2013, and the standalone applications are now transferable to a new computer.
The updated license is now equivalent to the Office 2010 retail license terms.
Updated transferability provision to the Retail License Terms of the Software License Agreement for Microsoft Office 2013 Desktop Application Software:
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.
In the blog post from a few weeks ago, the following diagram was posted to make the comparison between Office 2010 and Office 2013 options. It is now outdated but can be updated by changing the Office 2013 Transferable column to ‘Yes’.
Was the inability to transfer only a legal/compliance issue or did Microsoft have to change the workflow behind the scenes to allow an install to be reactivated with a previously used product key?
With new license options and Microsoft Office apps in the pipeline for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices, having the ability to install across multiple devices could be a strong incentive to go with Office 365. Does reinstating transferability remove one of the comparable carrots/sticks that Microsoft could use to get end users on the subscription model?