Microsoft Dumps Office 2013 Transfer Ban

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has agreed to drop a rule forcing Office 2013 buyers to re-purchase the software if they bought a new computer. The change follows a hostile response from Microsoft customers.

The controversy arose because of the way Microsoft's Office 2013 software licensing works. Microsoft has always taken the approach that you don't buy software outright but pay for the right to use it under specified conditions.

In the past, most Microsoft licenses were transferrable. This meant that as long as you only ran the software on one machine at a time, you could reinstall the software if you changed computers.

Some deals, such as Microsoft "Family Packs," let you use the software on multiple machines at once in return for a higher fee. In those cases you could still transfer licenses if you replaced one of your computers.

Office 2013 DVD: One-Time Installation

With Office 2013, Microsoft changed that rule. It appears the move was a deliberate attempt to persuade more people to buy Office 365, the online subscription version of Office that includes free upgrades for the period of the subscription.

The subscription license is transferable and can be used on up to five machines at any one time.

However, upon the launch of Office 2013, the boxed DVD version was a one-shot deal. Once users had installed it on one computer they could never install it on another machine unless they bought a new copy. (Source:

This forced people who purchased a new computer to buy a new copy of Office 2013. This upset many users, with the move likened to DVD movie buyers having to buy the disc again if they got a new DVD player.

Microsoft did offer a limited exemption for those whose computers broke. However, if a computer failed outside of a manufacturer's warranty window, Microsoft refused to offer the exemption.

Microsoft Returns to Old Office Rules

Microsoft has now changed the licensing terms to resemble those of past Office editions. You can now transfer the software license to a new computer once every 90 days, or sooner if you have a hardware failure while a device is still under warranty. (Source:

The new rules also state that Office 2013 users can transfer the license to another user, meaning you can sell a used copy of Office 2013 if you decide you don't want to use it any more.

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