Should I buy Office 2013

Should I buy Office 2013?

Office doesn’t support SQL Server as well as Access 2000, XP, 2003, 2007 and 2010. I literally recommend avoiding Office 2013 like the plague!

Does your copy of Office 2013 die with your computer?

Can you reinstall Office 2013 on your new PC? Don’t expect a simple answer from Microsoft.

In the push to shift customers to the Office 365 subscription model, Microsoft has rejigged the licensing conditions on retail copies of Office 2013 such as Office Home & Student 2013. People tend not to read this sort of fine print, but this bit is kind of important.

According to the fine print, retail copies of Office Home & Student 2013 are now single-license, so you can only install them on one computer. Some people interpret this as meaning that the retail license is now similar to the OEM license, which covers copies of Office that come pre-installed on a new computer. Under an OEM license you can only run Office on that specific computer. If you buy a new computer, you can’t uninstall that OEM copy of Office from your old computer and reinstall it on the new one.

You could transfer a retail copy of Office from your old computer to your new computer, at least you could until now.

If you read fine print, the licensing conditions have clearly changed between Office 2010 and Office 2013. The Office 2010 retail license agreement states;

a. One Copy per Device. You may install one copy of the software on one device. That device is the “licensed device.” b. Licensed Device. You may only use one copy of the software on the licensed device at a time. c. Portable Device. You may install another copy of the software on a portable device for use by the single primary user of the licensed device.

While the Office 2010 OEM license states;

a. 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.” b. Licensed Device. You may only use one copy of the software on the licensed device at a time. c. Separation of Components. The components of the software are licensed as a single unit. You may not separate the components and install them on different devices.

Meanwhile new copies of Office 2013 states the same licensing details for both retail and OEM copies;

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.

If retail and OEM copies now have exactly the same licensing agreement, have retail rights have been downgraded to OEM rights or OEM rights been upgraded to full retail rights? The new wording doesn’t actually use the phrase “the software license is permanently assigned to the device with which the software is distributed”, like the old OEM license did.

This is a pretty big deal for people who are trying to decide between Office 365 and a retail copy of Office 2013. Depending on your needs, you might find a single outright copy of Office Home & Student 2013 is more economical than an Office 365 subscription — but not if you can’t keep using it after you next upgrade your computer. It seems a dead computer also means a dead copy of Office. These new licensing restrictions aren’t just for home users, they also apply to retail copies Office Home & Business 2013 and Professional 2013.

What if your old computer dies a few months after you buy Office 2013? Does your copy of Office die with it, even though you’ve still got the installer disc? It also raises questions about what happens if you need to reinstall Windows and Office on your original computer.

There’s one simple way to right out, right? Ask Microsoft. Just don’t expect a simple and consistent answer. First I asked Microsoft’s PR team to look into it and I was told retail copies of Office 2013 have a “non-transferable license” — not exactly making the situation clearer. So I asked for clarification and was told; “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.”

That sounds like a definitive answer — one PC only at that’s it. Buy a new computer and you need a new copy of Office 2013. Just to double-check I rang Microsoft tech support and was bounced around for 30 minutes. Initially I was told that you could reinstall Office 2013 on a new machine, then I was told that you couldn’t. Then I was told you could actually install Office 2013 on your desktop and notebook at the same time — which was the case was Office 2010 but clearly isn’t with Office 2013.

It was clear that Microsoft tech support had no clue, so I went back to Microsoft PR. This time I got a little more detail;

“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”

Interesting but it still doesn’t quite answer my question. If I upgrade to a new computer and decommission the old one, or if my old PC dies, can I move my retail copy to Office 2013 to that computer? Another reply from Microsoft PR;

“No, the customer cannot transfer the license from one PC to another PC.”

So a dead computer means buying a new copy of Office. Exactly how is this enforced? Is it just “forbidden” or are you actually blocked from using the retail activation code on a new computer? Is it tracked via your Microsoft cloud account? What if you change some of the hardware in your PC, will Office 2013 complain that it’s a new computer?

All good questions, and I’m still waiting on answers from Microsoft. It’s taken me several days of email and phone tag to get this far, so I don’t see what hope your average punter has of getting a straight answer from Microsoft. If I’d believed the tech support line I’d be in a for a rude shock. You might think I’m splitting hairs, but if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on Office then you need to know whether you’ve lost your money if your computer dies.

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