Microsoft: Just Kidding, You Can Transfer Licenses For Your Retail Versions Of Office

from the the-customer-is-always-right dept

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece about how Microsoft was changing the licensing terms for the retail versions of its Office product so that it would be a single install license. As I mentioned in that piece, this seemed like a pretty clear attempt to get retail customers to move to MIcrosoft's Office 365 line, requiring an ongoing subscription. Otherwise, retail customers would be beholden to their PCs, left to buy a new copy of Office should that machine no longer function (especially so if that machine wasn't under warranty). Customers, to put it mildly, were not impressed.

And it was that customer feedback that has apparently prompted Microsoft to revert the Office 2013 retail products back to the traditional, transferable licensing arrangement.

Based on customer feedback we have changed the Office 2013 retail license agreement to allow customers to transfer the software from one computer to another. This means customers can transfer Office 2013 to a different computer if their device fails or they get a new one. Previously, customers could only transfer their Office 2013 software to a new device if their PC failed under warranty.
While it's nice that Microsoft ended up listening to their customers, some folks are noting that these sneaky kinds of licensing attempts are nothing new for the company.
By the way, if all this seems familiar, it’s not your imagination. Microsoft tried a similar tactic with Windows Vista in October 2006. The original license agreement imposed a new limit of one transfer on retail copies of Windows. At the time, I called it “a sneaky change in Windows licensing terms.” After a similar outcry from Microsoft customers (a Microsoft executive acknowledged having received "lots of e-mail and other feedback" on this issue), Microsoft rolled back the changes and restored the original license terms less than a month later.
This trend should be a lesson to Microsoft, as well as other technology companies. If you want to get customers to adopt a certain product line you have, do it by making that product more valuable, rather than by reducing the value of a competing product.



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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Now, if only Microsoft would listen to the feedback of those who purchased Windows 8 on a non-touch screen device.

    Seriously, what is it with companies who keep insisting these changes are "good" for everyone?

    Word of advice, tech companies: different people use their systems for different needs.

    Please stop trying to put us all under the same umbrella.

     

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      Christopher Best (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 7:44am

      Re:

      Sadly it's a problem across the entire industry...

      See: The absolute insanity of the Linux desktop in the last five years, where long-standing paradigms for user interfaces are thrown away and replaced because of... reasons...

       

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        Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re:

        Canonical's Unity and the Gnome shell springs to mind here.

        By all means develop an interface that will work across phone and tablet devices but keep the desktop experience as a proper desktop experience.

        One of the reasons I am now an Xfce user rather than Gnome.

         

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          MikeVx (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:02pm

          Interface choices

          I have been using Xfce on Slackware for the past decade or three. The infestation is felt even there as the clutter level goes up with each new release.

          For all the faults of Windows 7 (a complete description of which would consume more storage than there is mass in the universe), it is at least usable (for very forgiving uses of the term) for several things at once, if given absurd quantities of resources.

          I will push any device or system to the edge, but the previews of Windows 8 were so utterly useless that I actually gave up on it completely. I can get more productivity out of 3.1. Heck, I can get more productivity out of DOS 5.whatever and a copy of DESQview. I actually did that back in the day.

          While they've given up this time, I expect that the issue of pay-us-forever will continue to to creep along until there is no pay-once software from Microsoft.

          One of many reasons why I use Linux for most of my doings, and only use Windows (carefully locked away in virtual machines for my own system) for device synchronization or when people pay me to work with it.

           

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        John Fenderson (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re:

        Sadly it's a problem across the entire industry...


        True. It's a current industry fad, and a particularly obnoxious one.

         

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      windows ate, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 8:53am

      Re:

      Windows 8... SUCKS .

       

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        justok (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re:

        I disagree. It blows.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It sucks and blows AT THE SAME TIME.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Nah, that's just the UI. Everything under the hood makes my comp scream, "FASTER!!!! WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Working in IT, I installed it just so I could help people fix their computers when they install it or get a new computer with it. The default UI was terrible for non touch screen users and I think it would still be terrible for touch screen users. That UI is best designed for people that have tablets and no idea why they thought it would be a good idea for other computers. They key to a good UI is to be intuitive and Windows 8 is not.

               

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                Zakida Paul (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:21am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                The key to a good UI is simplicity. Make something too complicated and no one will like it. Designers and programmers should always keep the KISS principle in mind.

                 

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                  Rekrul, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  The key to a good UI is simplicity. Make something too complicated and no one will like it.

                  Then how do you explain the popularity of VI, possibly the most unintuitive program ever written, among Unix users?

                   

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                    PlagueSD (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    VI is the text editor I use by default when I'm in a Unix environment. Yes, there's a slight learning curve to learn the 2 editing modes and keyboard commands, but once mastered, it's great. You have to remember most Unix programmers are used to doing stuff via "command line". By integrating that into VI, you can navigate text files and make changes without ever having your hands leave the keyboard.

                     

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                      Rekrul, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 10:40pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      VI is the text editor I use by default when I'm in a Unix environment. Yes, there's a slight learning curve to learn the 2 editing modes and keyboard commands

                      That's an understatement. With most editing programs, you can at least type something without spending 30+ minutes reading the manual.

                      My only experience with VI comes from using a Unix shell account on a school computer. I ran VI and literally couldn't do anything with it. I read the Man page about how you need to toggle been text entry and edit mode, so I tried toggling it. I still couldn't do anything. Went back, read some more, tried it again, still couldn't get it to work. I'd assume that it was broken, but I don't see any reason why only VI would be broken when everything else worked fine.

                      Finally, I gave up and used some other, non-standard editor which probably had less features, but was 100% intuitive. Use the arrow keys to move, Delete & Backspace to remove characters, type to insert characters, most important commands listed at the bottom of the screen. I believe it's the same editor that's included in Pine.

                      You have to remember most Unix programmers are used to doing stuff via "command line". By integrating that into VI, you can navigate text files and make changes without ever having your hands leave the keyboard.

                      I thought it was just the Unix philosophy of never making things easy for the user.

                      Back when I was using the shell account, I tried using RN to read the Usenet newsgroups. Talk about another pain in the ass program. Although it wasn't as bad as VI, it was anything but user friendly. I think I ended up using Tin instead.

                      Or the options when compiling a file.

                      "Enabling this option will disable the option to enable the disabling of that particular function. This option can be overridden with a setting in the user's config file. The config file settings can overridden by a command line parameter at run-time, unless this option has been overridden by a global config file."

                       

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                  John Fenderson (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Yes, but another important aspects of UI design is that changing an interface people are used to is always costly to the users. The bigger the change, the higher the cost.

                  Even if the change is objectively for the better, the amount of benefit must outweigh the cost.

                  In the case of Metro running on the desktop, there is little to no benefit, and there is a huge cost -- so it's bad design in that use case.

                   

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              John Fenderson (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Nah, that's just the UI


              Indeed it is.

              Windows 8 is faster, it's true, but for most people, that's not a big deal. They'll never notice. A bigger deal is when the UI sucks.

               

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:29am

        Re: Re:

        well, the day Microsoft starts making products that don't suck is the day they start making vacuum cleaners...

         

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      Mr. Applegate, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      I am certainly no fan of M$, but they did the only thing they could do to try remain relevant in desktops and gain market in phones and tablets.

      See as much as everyone who has had the misfortune (or in my case need to test) the Windows 8 Desktop. It doesn't matter that it is hated, because it will, eventually be accepted, and that will make it the OS of choice for both phone and tablet, which are markets M$ has been un-successful in for years. There goal by integrating Windows 8 on the desktop is to steer people to Surface tablets and Windows phones.

      The theory is sooner or later corporate America will have to upgrade to Windows 8, schools will use it, it will come on all new computers... Everyone will know Windows 8 and thus choose what they know over Android or Apple.

      The problems with their plan, at least as I see it, is that different devices, with different usages NEEDS different Interfaces. I also find the Windows 8 Metro interface annoyingly blocky and bright. The other issue is it may be too late, too many people may have already left for Android or iOS, and they may not come back, as they would have to repurchase apps...

       

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        Ninja (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re:

        Vista did not make it. And if you think W8 is basically an improved W7 with a horrible interface the only ones stuck with W8 will be those that buy a new computer and don't downgrade for whatever reason.

         

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          Mr. Applegate, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Most people who buy new computers don't know they can downgrade, much less care too. Microsoft long ago gave up marketing to the tech crowd. They are marketing to the young folk, who are going to be customers for the next 20 - 30 years. They want to provide a seamless interface for all devices.

          I think that is a poor choice, but it is obvious M$ does not, they bet the farm on it.

           

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            btrussell (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "They want to provide a seamless interface for all devices."

            I'd like mine to be smudge-less.

            MS recently buy a monitor screen wipes company?

             

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    Tony Lovasco, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 8:56am

    It's worth noting that the OEM & System Builder versions of Windows have essentially always been linked to one machine only. The only "advantage" to buying the retail boxed version was that you could transfer it to a different machine down the line.

    Of course all modern Microsoft products use Product Activation, and thus one can never really count on being able to transfer it to a new PC later on (as the activation servers will undoubtedly be deactivated at some point down the line once official product support is ended).

    People should just use GNU/Linux and Libreoffice and then they wouldn't have to worry...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:35am

      Re:

      The tied down OEM license is more of a in writing then in practice thing.

      I've salvaged many windows stickers off OEM machines and used the license on home-builts or repairs.

      At worst the license would come up as invalid you call a 1800 number and tell them you had to replace the mobo and they give you a code to bypass the invalid key screen. And that was only a fraction of the time, usually it just worked.

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Dinosaur Microsoft! Still selling "infinite goods" at high prices!

    An old-fashioned monopoly insisting on "copyright" and "licensing", besides forcing everyone to follow their unique "standards"! They'll go broke any day now -- according to Techdirt logic.

    How do you kids manage to maintain your notions with the Microsoft monster as everyday counter-example?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:32am

      Re: Dinosaur Microsoft! Still selling "infinite goods" at high prices!

      They sent me their MAC address so they are ok in my book.

       

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:42am

      Re: Dinosaur Microsoft! Still selling "infinite goods" at high prices!

      Actually, Microsoft is a damn good example of what we've been saying all along. Microsoft got big because they turned a blind eye to piracy, they even admitted it. People pirated Windows at home and then businesses bought Windows to take advantage of the experience the home user had.

      To this day Microsoft is the default operating system for desktops because of piracy back then. Everybody knows Windows because everyone before them knew Windows. It's still pirated massively despite the dumb ass activation, yet Microsoft is still #1.

      If you were correct, Microsoft would have been long dead since piracy of Windows started when they were the underdog.

       

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      Ninja (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:31am

      Re: Dinosaur Microsoft! Still selling "infinite goods" at high prices!

      I bet you were among the ones that believed without any trace of doubt that RIM would dominate the smartphone market forever and that Nokia would remain leading forever in the general mobile market eh?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    this is how it should have been from day one. what was going to happen was reminiscent of the entertainment industries and the stopping of a game because the console failed, or the removal of the 2nd hand market that these same industries keep trying to bring into force! wankers, the lot of them! not content with selling something once, have to sell it multiple times or complain that it's lasting too long. unless, that it, it's something those complaining are buying, then it does last long enough!

     

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    crade (profile), Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:03am

    Microsoft: damnit, someone read the thing and we got caught? Oh well, switch it back and we'll try again next time.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:07am

    Bought a three pack of 7 windows home premium. Made three computers for the kids. One computer mother board died.
    Replaced the motherboard and windows didn't allow me to use the three pack for the fixed computer.
    Went online found a copy of windows 7 used the daz or pez loader and now it works.
    Until something better than windows 7 comes along and GNU/Linux is getting close.
    Haven't used microsoft office in 3 years use open office now.
    Have no use for ms office when open office does the job.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Office 365

    ...Or we just get a free copy of LibreOffice.

     

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    Zem, Mar 7th, 2013 @ 9:34pm

    Friendship is forever.

    In the name of friendship, and in thanks for the generous offer from MS to allow us to transfer an office liscence to a new pc, it would be realy great if the guys from Libre Office did the same......................

     

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