The problem of Office 2013 licences

Microsoft have released a new version of their Office suite – Office 2013. However, before you look in to whether to buy it, it’s worth looking at some of the new licence conditions.

Chief amongst one of them is the fact that the licence is irrevocably tied to the computer you install it on. Whilst this might seem nothing new, you are specifically forbidden from moving the (retail version) to another computer.

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.

This effectively means that, if and when you upgrade your computer, even if you’re replacing an old one that you will destroy/recycle, you are expected to purchase another copy of Office – it cannot legally be reinstalled on your new machine.

My first thought was “But what about upgrading a computer, then?” – what constitutes a computer, anyway?

Computer. In this agreement, “computer” means a hardware system (whether physical or virtual) with a storage device capable of running the software. A hardware partition or blade is considered to be a computer.

So, a computer is a “hardware system with a storage device”. Interestingly, it doesn’t specify “one or more storage devices” – only one.

I presume that, if I plug a USB drive into my PC, does that mean that not the same hardware “system” anymore? What if I upgrade the RAM or Graphics Card?

Unfortunately, these are questions for which I have no answer – but you’ll need to way this up against the benefits of Office 2013, which are… umm… actually, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been running it for a couple of weeks now and I can’t say I’ve seen any practical ones. If you spot any, please let me know.