If you needed to replace your old PC with a new one, you could always uninstall your Office installation from the old computer and install it on your new one. But looks like starting with Office 2013, this may not be possible. Microsoft has confirmed that a retail license of Office 2013 is tied to the first PC that it gets installed on. This means that you will not be able to remove Office 2013 from this PC and install it on another.
The EULA of Office 2010 and earlier clearly stated that an individual could reassign their Office license to another PC if they wanted to. That is, the individual could install it on any PC that he or she chose to. But starting with Office 2013, the license will get tied to the first PC that it is installed!
The Office 2013 EULA says:
Our software license is permanently assigned to the licensed 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.
When TheAge asked Microsoft about this, they received the following response:
Each retail copy of Office 2013 carries a one-device license. Once users install the software on a single PC, it can only ever be used on that one device. A perpetual license of Office 2013 can only be installed on one personal computer. This means that the customer can only install it on one device, either a desktop or laptop, but not both. If the customer has a system crash, they are allowed to reinstall Office on that same computer. If there are problems with this process, customers can contact Microsoft technical support. The customer cannot transfer the license from one PC to another PC.
With this step, Microsoft appears to placed retail and OEM copies on the same platform as both now have exactly the similar licensing arrangements. You can read more about the Office 2103 & Office 365 editions & pricing plans.
It is unclear how Microsoft will enforce this new restriction, but would expect that it would use its activation technology to do so – just as it does to ensure that Windows is tied down to a specific PC.
Microsoft is probably taking this step as it wants to push users in adopting the ‘rent’ (Office 365), rather than ‘own’ (Office 2013) model. It will be interesting to see how much Microsoft succeeds in doing this and how much this change ends up pushing users away from Office. What do you think?
UPDATE: Microsoft has clarified about Office 2013 & Office 365: Licensing, installation & transferability.