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MS-Office-2013-logoSince the announcement of Microsoft’s new options for their productivity software releases for this year, there has been a lot to consider.

The journalists and bloggers have been picking over the licensing agreements since the release and have found some changes that give pause. The eye-opener has been a limitation on transferability – you can only install your copy of Office on one machine and have to buy another license if you replace your machine with another (if you have to reinstall windows on the same machine, reinstalling Office is allowed). This is not necessarily new; there were some versions of Office 2010 that you could not transfer but, with Office 2013, this is your only option. That fact has raised a lot of ire. It has harsh implications on the right of second sale. In the past, many companies have marked their Office purchases as assets that could be sold. This will no longer be applicable because you cannot transfer Office 2013 licenses between machines.

Office 2013 would be what most people would expect to buy, but these changes to the licensing make Office 365 a more appealing option. Office 365 allows transfer between computers, and it also allows for its use on up to five devices – like tablets and  laptops – as well as your computer. It’s no secret that Microsoft has been leaning their business toward software as a services (SaaS). With the level of care needed after the initial sale, it’s difficult to maintain that software with updates and patches. With SaaS in place, a monthly fee can sustain development for version iteration and updates. This way, subscribers always have the latest and greatest versions while they maintain the subscription.

Microsoft has published many details about the differences and it’s worth noting they recommend people move to Office 365. It would appear that the release of Office 2013 is for those that are used to the older method. In the future this may not be available at all.

Here are details about what you get access to with the different versions. This blog post from Microsoft attempts to clarify Office transferability.

UPDATE: Upon a mass of scrutiny, Microsoft posted a blog relenting in its rules surrounding transferability.  This may make Office 2013 a good choice for customers that do not want to pay for a subscription.  SpireTech’s Office 365 feature matrix and pricing is located here.