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Retail Copies of Office 2013 Are Tied To a Single Computer Forever 464

An anonymous reader writes "With the launch of Office 2013 Microsoft has seen fit to upgrade the terms of the license agreement, and it's not in favor of the end user. It seems installing a copy of the latest version of Microsoft's Office suite of apps ties it to a single machine. For life. On previous versions of Office it was a different story. The suite was associated with a 'Licensed Device' and could only be used on a single device. But there was nothing to stop you uninstalling Office and installing it on another machine perfectly legally. With that option removed, Office 2013 effectively becomes a much more expensive proposition for many."
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Retail Copies of Office 2013 Are Tied To a Single Computer Forever

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  • by Mistakill ( 965922 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @06:45PM (#42889099)
    What happens if your CPU or Motherboard dies, and you cant get that socket type CPU/Motherboard now... Or your HDD dies even

    In some countries, this stipulation would be against consumer laws I'm sure (maybe the EU, also NZ is quite possible)
  • by erice ( 13380 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:01PM (#42889311) Homepage

    If I add a disk, is it the same device?
    If I swap the disk, is the same device.
    If I keep everything but swap the CPU, is it a new computer?
    If I keep the CPU but swap the motherboard?

    If I swap components incrementally, when do I need to buy a new license?
    Does the software actually check?

  • by W. Justice Black ( 11445 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:21PM (#42889559) Homepage

    Yes and no.

    I did a bit of IT consulting a while back for a small company owned by a friend of mine that upgraded one of their (dead) machines to Win7 from XP. One of their pieces of software (that isn't supported by the vendor anymore, natch) had some copy protection on it that ABSOLUTELY REFUSED to run on Win7. As in "every single post I could find about it on Google said 'don't bother'" and no amount of backwards-compatibility junk would get Win7 to make it work, period (though admittedly this was Win7 Home Prem, so no built-in VM stuff).

    The solution: VirtualBox, running a spare XP license, and just this one application. With the VBox tools installed, I set it to resize the desktop automatically when the window's resized, put the taskbar on autohide, and it works great (nice and snappy for an office-type app). When you click the close box on the window, VBox suspends the VM. When you open it back up again, it un-suspends. Plus you get snapshotting and portability of the environment.

    They were not sophisticated enough to pull this off, but their local IT guy (me) was, and this is a little 5-person extermination company...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:30PM (#42889671)

    But I don't need "feature X"; the only "feature" that I need is that the person I'm sending the document to expects it to be in MS Office's format because that's what they'll use to open and modify the file, and "mostly compatible" isn't good enough.

    If I was using MS Office and they were using LibreOffice, I'd be in the same boat (the ODT export from MS Office, like the OfficeXML export from Libre, is "almost good enough", which is the polite way of saying "not good enough") except of course I could just download LibreOffice for free and use it.

    There are network effects in play, is what I'm saying.

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:34PM (#42889719) Journal
    You can create deep ties between guest and host and exchange data between them trivially. Setup a folder that both OS's can reach, problem solved. If done right its the same as tabbing through windows.
  • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:35PM (#42889725) Journal
    The obvious answer is the Ship of Theseus [] solution.

    In Adam Turner's article [] (on which the blog post linked in the Slashdot summary is based) Microsoft declares that " If the customer has a system crash, they are allowed to reinstall Office on that same computer..." but with the caveat, "No, the customer cannot transfer the license from one PC to another PC." Sounds like I'm allowed to upgrade my computer, and I'm allowed to replace broken parts...I just can't "transfer" the license between PCs.

    Who knows the way to fix an old Fiat?

    Step 1: Raise hood.
    Step 2: Turn the radiator cap counterclockwise until fully loosed.
    Step 3: Lift radiator cap straight up, at least six inches.
    Step 4: Remove old Fiat from under radiator cap. Replace with new Fiat.
    Step 5: Screw radiator cap back in place.
    Step 6: Close hood.

    Clearly, the solution in this situation is similar. Disconnect your mouse. Replace the computer underneath. Plug in a new computer. The license, obviously, transferred with the Theseus-mouse.

  • Re:Advice? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @07:50PM (#42889877)

    Or just use the pirated version of office 2013 that will come out 3 months before the official release, have no such limitations, will be much more configurable, and, of course, is free...

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:05PM (#42890043) Homepage Journal

    With that option removed, Office 2013 effectively becomes a much more expensive proposition for many.

    Not this.

    But frankly, if they are going to tie it to the hardware, then they need to price it as a product that you are going to have to renew every 2 to 3 years. So make it $25, and I'll be happy to buy a new one when I get a new PC.


    No right to resell and no right to continue using it after hardware problems or major upgrades, etc. means that buying a copy represents a significant risk to the consumer. Based on that, the perceived value of a copy of Office for most people just fell through the floor. At most, the retail copies are now worth no more than an OEM copy.

    I say "at most" because with a retail copy, the consumer takes on that liability for the computer's warranty period instead of the manufacturer, so in practice, the retail copy is worth considerably less than a preinstalled copy of Office.

    But for me, the value is way, way less. As a serious computer user that moves between hardware regularly, if I can't transfer your app (and, for that matter, use it on at least two machines), your app is worth $10. That's an upper bound. If your app costs more than $10 and I can't transfer it freely, I will not even consider purchasing your app. It could cure cancer, triple the size of my genitalia, and make my computer absolutely crash-proof, and I still wouldn't care. Ten bucks.

    Full disclosure: I do not now own, nor have I ever owned, any version of Microsoft Office.

  • Libre Office!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BeadyEl ( 1656149 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:07PM (#42890049)
    It'd be nice to think this would boost use of OpenOffice and/or Libre Office, but probably not.
  • by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:14PM (#42890133) Homepage

    Fire up a virtual machine every time someone emails you a document, and then move that document over to the virtual machine (after it books), open up your Office suite, and then move the document back.

    Man, that is sure convenient.

    Why would you do it that way? When I read the VM suggestion, I thought it basically meant live in the VM full time. There is a post above where a person used an XP VM in Win7 for a legacy app that wouldn't run in his Win7 set up. But that was one app, not an office suite.

    If you're using MS Office for everything, including Outlook for email, and you're using a VM so you can change hardware by moving the VM instead of reinstalling Office, why not fire up the VM as soon as Windows boots and put all your apps in there?

    I mean, 1) you're going to spend so much time in the VM, you might as well stay in, and 2) you've done the work of making your system easy to restore to get around reinstalling Office, why not take advantage and make all your software as easy to restore?

    Moving files between levels of virtualization wouldn't be an issue. You pay a price at start up, as the OS and VM boot, but a small price. And I'm in the minority as someone who still shuts down PCs. Don't most folk use sleep or hibernate, or for a desktop, just leave it one all the time?

    I've only used VMs on beefy servers, never on consumer desktop or laptop hardware. Is there a performance reason you wouldn't live in the VM full time? The top level OS could be light; the only thing it is doing is handling the VM (and passing off messages between the VM and outside world? I don't know where VMs live on your OSI model.).

    Anyway, I just had an issue with MS Office 2010 where my wife's HD crashed, I reinstalled (I just back up data, because you can always reinstall software, right?), then her MB went, and when reinstalling on a new machine and trying to register, it got denied as too many installs. This is legal, paid for, copy of Office.

    So I downloaded a crack.

  • by fast turtle ( 1118037 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:28PM (#42890877) Journal

    and until I find a usable replacement for the features it has, I'm stuck with Office 2007. Sure it works but I'd like something that's open source instead and using a Wiki setup just doesn't cut it for me as it means installing to much additional software.

    Now if I can find something that gives me 90 percent of the features (individual notebooks, insert media, text and such), I'd be able to move back to open source as my only online game now has a link to setting things up in Wine along with links to doing so in RH/Deb/Suse and others.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.