Office 2013 prices double and beyond

Microsoft’s sleight of hand more than doubles the price of Microsoft Office.

Update: we updated this article on 6 March 2013 to reflect the change of heart by Microsoft to allow transfer of Office 2013 retail licenses.  The calculations and conclusions remain unchanged.

You have to hand it to Microsoft marketing – what other company could get away with doubling the price of their main product with few of the media even noticing?

At first glance, the prices of Office 2013 retail packages are much the same as for Office 2010.

Office Home and Student 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote but NO Outlook) is priced at US$139.99 for non-commercial use.

The equivalent 2010 bundle was officially priced at $149.99. So it looks like a $10 discount for Office 2013 – but not so fast. Despite using the same name, what you get is quite different.

Same name, less licenses

The 2013 version of ‘Home and Student’ gives you only ONE license to use Office while the 2010 bundle of the same name contained THREE licenses. To get the equivalent product with Office 2013 you’d have to buy 3 product @ $139.99 or $419. It’ll cost you $280 more to get the same Office 2013 product compared with Office 2010 of the same name.

That’s a whopping 280% real increase in price (and revenue to Microsoft) between the 2010 and 2013 version of the Home and Student bundle, after adjusting for the change in what you’re actually buying.

As we noted at the time, the removal of upgrade discounts for Office 2010 itself amounted to a hefty increase in price. Over the last two version of Office, Microsoft has greatly increased the revenue from its main cash cow.


Office 2013 software bought in retail packages is transferable between computers.  Microsoft changed the software license in March 2013 to restore the transfer right to Office 2013 retail purchasers.


Of course, the actual retail prices of Office are less than the official prices but the comparison between Office 2013 and Office 2010 is still valid.

Microsoft will argue that they have new, lower cost, offering for Office 2013 that reduces the price for customers. It’s true that the subscription options appear to be cheaper, but you can’t directly compare an annual subscription with a one-off purchase. While the current Office 2013 subscriptions look good, the ongoing cost may well end up higher for consumers. It’s a safe bet that Microsoft would not offer subscriptions unless it improved their bottom line.


Here’s the other Office 2013 prices compared with the Office 2010 bundles with the same name – look to pay 150% more for the Office 2013 equivalent.

Office Home and Business 2013

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote AND Outlook US$219.99 – one device license only, transferable to another computer.

Office 2010 Home and Business $279 with TWO transferable licenses.

Two @ $220 = $440 a 157% increase over the Office 2010 price plus no transferability.

Office Professional 2013

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook AND Access and Publisher US$399.99 – one device license only, transferable to another computer.

Office 2010 Professional $499 with TWO transferable licenses.

Two @ $400 = $800 a 160% increase over the Office 2010 price plus no transferability.

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