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Office 2013 licenses now transferable

Microsoft backs down and lets you move Office 2013 between computers.

In an astonishing backdown, Microsoft has quietly announced that Office 2013 retail purchases will now be transferable between computers.

The initial retail license terms for Office 2013 had a very different requirement than all the past version of Microsoft Office. With Office 2013 retail purchases you could only install the software once. If you bought another computer, you would have to buy another copy of Office!

That tough limitation was part of Microsoft’s encouragement for people to get a subscription to Office instead of a straight purchase.

Now you can buy Office 2013 retail package, install it on one computer and later uninstall and put it on another computer. Just the same as you’ve always been able to do with Microsoft Office.

This change applies to past and future Office 2013 retail purchases.

If you already purchased and installed Office 2013, it has magically changed into transferable software.

You’ll probably find some stores will continue to have ‘not transferable’ or similar warnings for some time since this type of change is quite unprecedented and there’s no clear path to communicate the change to stores or their staff.   No matter what a store or staffer says, the Microsoft software license rules and that has changed to allow migration between computers.

Microsoft says this change was because of ‘customer feedback’ which is corporate weasel words meaning that customers weren’t buying it … literally.   Rather than pushing people to Office 2013 subscriptions, as Microsoft hoped, the no-transfer rule was stopping people buying at all.

Office 2013: the real startup guide

Peter worked quickly to update our ebook Office 2013: the real startup guide .  The same day as Microsoft’s announcement the ebook was updated to reflect this important change in Office 2013.

The ebook also now includes step-by-step through the online subscription purchase process, so you know what to expect.  Office 2013: the real startup guide also takes you step-by-step with color images through the entire Office 2013 installation – both the traditional download/DVD install and the new ‘Click to Run’ streaming method for subscribers.

Retail purchases only

The change does NOT apply to OEM purchases – that’s when you buy Office 2013 bundled or preinstalled on a new computer.  That type of Office purchase has always been ‘locked’ to the computer it’s sold with and that hasn’t changed with Office 2013.


We’ll look carefully at the details of this change and let you know.  We’ll also update some of the past information on the Office Watch web site.

Resale allowed

Since an Office 2013 retail license can be moved to another computer –  does that mean you can transfer or sell the license to someone else?


Microsoft Office license rules have always allowed ‘transfer to a third party’ for transferable Office software.  Now that Office 2013 retail can be transferred, the ‘transfer to a third party’ right  has also been restored.  you have to uninstall from your computer and had over all materials (including the all important Product Key) to the new owner. 

90 days between reinstalls

You can only reinstall and activate Office 2013 once every 90 days except if there’s been a hardware failure.

If you reinstall within 90 days you may not be able to activate Office over the internet.  Instead you’ll have to call the activation hotline.  If you explain about the hardware failure, it’s likely you’ll be given a new activation code without too much trouble.

But … and there’s still a big but …

The retail package is for ONE Office 2013 use at a time. That’s a major change from previous Office retail ‘boxes’ that was for TWO installations – one on a desktop computer and the other on a portable computer.

To get the same benefit with Office 2013 you have to buy two retail products – not one.

Since the prices of Office 2013 are roughly the same as the Office 2010 equivalents – that means Office 2013 has rocketed in price by over 150% and sometimes 280%

As Geek Girl Rose Vines said: “You’d have to be mad to buy Office 2013 standalone under the original conditions; now you’d only need to be half mad.”.

See Office 2013 prices double and beyond for more details.

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