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Office 2013 - watching the sales pitch

How well are the changed terms for retail sales being disclosed?

Now Office 2013 is being sold to the public we’ve been carefully looking for proper disclosure of the new stricter license rules.

As regular Office Watch readers will know, Office 2013 retail bundles have very different rules to the past packages.

Generally speaking, a retail box or download of Office 2010 gave you licence to install on TWO computers (desktop and portable) with the ability to transfer the software to another computer.

Office 2013 retail bundles give you ONE installation and that’s NOT transferable. If you get another computer, you have to buy another copy of Microsoft Office. Even worse, the software activation is automatic unlike in the past where you could choose to postpone activation (something we’ve long recommended).

Traditional Perpetual Licence

Microsoft is calling this a ‘traditional, perpetual licence’ which is nonsense and borders on a false, misleading statement.

The new purchase terms are neither ‘traditional’ (they are a major change from the past) nor ‘perpetual’ (the old style Office licence was transferable and therefore ‘perpetual’ to some extent – the Office 2013 licence is not).

That might be clear if you read the fine print but we’re afraid that many people will go into a store or online and buy Office 2013 not realizing the major devaluing of what they are getting.


Amazon does a reasonable job of setting out the main licence rules but it could easily be overlooked.

Office 2013 product points at Amazon US image from Office 2013 - watching the sales pitch at

The major points are first and last on the bulleted list.

Their version table does a better job with the ‘Licenses Duration’ row hopefully being clear enough.

Office 2013 versions table at Amazon US image from Office 2013 - watching the sales pitch at

Office Works

For a comparison let’s look at a newspaper advert (remember those?) from Office Works – the Aussie equivalent of Staples in the US or Ryman in the UK.

Office 2013 - newspaper ad image from Office 2013 - watching the sales pitch at

The advert is just OK – the 1 PC limit is clear both in the table and the naming of the product (each has ‘1 PC’) but there’s no mention of the ‘no transfer’ rule even in the fine print.

In Store

The real test will be when people go into stores and ask the staff on the floor. These staff are often over-worked and under-trained so it’s likely they’ll not be aware of the major change in the rules of the Office bundle.

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