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Controversial Microsoft Stiffs Customers With Restrictive Office 2013 Licence
The change is obvious to see when comparing licences:
Office 2010: “One Copy per Device. You may install one copy of the software on one device. That device is the ‘licensed device.’”
Office 2013: “One Copy per Device. The software license is permanently assigned to the device with which the software is distributed. That device is the ‘licensed device.’”
It turns out that the Office 2013 and OEM licences are now the same and that these are both like the Office 2010 OEM licences. The new restrictions also apply to the Office Home & Business 2013 and Professional 2013 editions, too.
The primary reason for doing this appears to be to make the subscription-based Office 365 appear more attractive. Another way to say "subscription-based" is SaaS (Software as a Service) or Rental Model, which is something that Microsoft has been wanting to get customers on for years. In fact, go to the Office home page and the first thing that jumps out at you is Office 365 Home Premium. In fact, to find the Office 2013 Professional product page (the "boxed" version) you have to click a small link towards the bottom of the page, making it abundently clear that Microsoft would rather have you buy the rental version of their Office suite instead. Other versions to click on include Office Home and Business 2013 & Office Home and Student 2013.
So, who likes to rent? Nobody. You pay forever, so it's always way more expensive in the long run. Yup, you now have to keep paying the Microsoft tithe if you want to use its hallowed Office product and to create and edit your documents (more below, in bold). Don't you just love being manipulated and bullied into buying something inferior by having the superior product deliberately crippled? Me neither.
So, Office 2013 retail and OEM now both have the same licensing terms and this section of the EULA explains that the only way to transfer the licence is via the PC it's installed on:
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.
All this niggled Adam Turner of The Age who wanted clarification, so started investigating this new licence. He was able to clarify with Microsoft PR that yes indeed, "each retail copy of Office 2013 carries a one-device license. Once users install the software on a single PC, it can only ever be used on that one device."
He then tried to confirm this with Microsoft support and got pushed around for 30 minutes, getting various confused and differing answers to the basic question of whether the software is indeed tied to one machine forever or not. Since they had no clue, he went back to Microsoft PR and this time got a little more detail on this restriction:
A perpetual license of Office 2013 can only be installed on one personal computer. This means that the customer can only install it on one device, either a desktop or laptop, but not both. If the customer has a system crash, they are allowed to reinstall Office on that same computer. If there are problems with this process, customers can contact Microsoft technical support.
So yes, buy a new computer, or just want to use your laptop instead of the desktop for a while and you have to pay Microsoft all over again. Nice.
Ok, so this might all be a terrible, terrible scandal, but to be fair, paying for an Office 365 subscription does get you live 24x7 IT-level phone support (certain plans only) and ensures that you always have the latest version of the software, among other things such as 20 SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls per month, so some people/companies might actually prefer this to a standard retail copy, even one they can move from one PC to another. Note that the 365 versions can be installed on up to 5 PCs or Macs, along with "select devices".
The most scandalous part of this deal though is the sneaky way that it locks you into the Microsoft eco system: stop paying the piper his money and you lose the ability to edit your documents or create new ones, since the software will got into a reduced functionality read only mode, as the FAQ explains. With the previous retail versions, you could just carry on using them forever and it was up to you if you wanted to pay the money for the latest version. Wanna make a bet that if Microsoft is successful with this it will rack up the (currently low) monthly subscriptions significantly once it pulls the retail product, leaving only the rental one as a buying choice?
So, what are those prices? Well, there's quite a few to choose from depending on whether it's for business or personal use, so I'll just give a couple of examples here, all available directly from Microsoft. The flagship Office 2013 Professional version is a pricey £389.99, while Office 365 Home Premium is either £7.99/month or £79.99/year, with the yearly sub saving £15.89 over the monthly one. For full details of all the options, see the Office home page.
So, what about alternatives? Well, no doubt cracks will come out allowing one to pirate it (seriously not recommended for various reasons) or if one tried a telephone activation and asked nicely, Microsoft might just let the new Office 2013 be installed on another computer, just as long as one doesn't say it's on a different PC...
Less shady alternatives would be to use a competitor's product, of which there are quite a few now which Microsoft no doubt is quite unhappy about. Just three of these are the well established Open Office, Libre Office (both worthy open source suites) and the popular Google Docs, all of which are competent products, loosening Microsoft's stranglehold on its customers, so it's not really surprising to see a convicted monopolist try to maintain that monopoly in any way it can, even if they risk getting sued eventually. And the key to that strategy is that "eventually", since they will make shedloads of money in the meantime, likely reaping a fat profit even if they lose a mighty court case running for years.
Sources: The Age HEXUS