Maybe the best reason yet to steer clear of Microsoft Office

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Microsoft Office

Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer reports that Microsoft has confirmed changes to its Office 2013 End User License Agreement (EULA), specifying that the software suite can only be installed on one computer—forever—and is not transferable to another machine if you upgrade your system hardware, sell your PC, or even if the computer dies and is scrapped. In any of those cases, and any other circumstance where you would want to shift to another computer, you’re out of luck; if you want to keep using Microsoft Office you’ll be obliged to dig deep and pony up the substantial retail price of another copy, kissing goodbye the equity value you may have thought you had purchased when you originally paid the Microsoft Office licensing fee.

The move is a change from past Office end-user licensing agreements (EULAs), and is another way Microsoft is pushing customers, especially consumers, to opt for new “rent-not-own” subscription plan.

Keizer quotes software licensing expert Daryl Ullman the Emerset Consulting Group commenting, “Let’s be frank. This is not in the consumer’s best interest. They’re paying more than before, because they’re not getting the same benefits as before.”

DailyTech ‘s Shane McGlaun also reports that in addition to the one computer license restriction lockup, Microsoft has jacked the price of Office for Mac by roughly 17% this week, and has stopped selling multi-license bundles for its productivity suite. The price hikes puts Office for Mac 2011 on par price-wise with Office 2013 for Windows, despite the fact that it’s much older software.

Under the new pricing schedule, a single-license of Microsoft Office for Mac Home & Student has jumped from $120 to $140, while Office for Mac Home & Business has been bumped from $200 to $220. Microsoft previously offered Mac users a Home & Student bundle with three licenses for $150 and a Home & Business two-license bundle for $250, both of which have now been discontinued.

Greg Keizer notes that Microsoft’s EULA for retail copies of Microsoft Office used to allow customers to reassign a license to a different PC any number of times provided it was done no more frequently than once every 90 days, and even that restriction would be waived if the computer died and was retired due to hardware failure.

However, the new stipulation is that once a retail copy of Microsoft Office 2013 is installed on a PC and “activated” by entering a 25-character license key to confirm that the software was legitimately obtained, it can never be uninstalled and re-installed on another machine owned by the customer or anyone else.

If you want to read the EULA fine print, you can find it at Microsoft’s website.

The rationale for this draconian and consumer-hostile measure (although piously couched in in the language of enacting protocols to circumvent Software piracy) is deduced to be a hamfisted strategy to persuade users to opt for paying the annual $100 subscription free for Microsoft’s Office 365 rental service, which does offer transferability from machine to machine, as well as a 100 annually or $10 monthly premium option allowing it to be installed on up to five computers simultaneously, as opposed to purchasing a perpetual (so to speak) license for the Office suite software.

Microsoft has thereby provided me with another excellent reason to continue to shun buying MS Office software, as I have since I purchased a license for Word 5.1 back in 1993. While I liked that ancient version of Word a lot, and continue to have respect for the formidable capabilities of the Office suite of applications, I’ve long since been a thoroughgoing convert to inexpensive or Open Source software tools.

For one thing, I’ve worked on multiple machines for nearly 20 years, and being restricted to having a key component of my productivity software suite restricted to just one and obliged to purchase more copies to use on my other work platform machines is a form of hosing to which I simply will not capitulate.

Libre Office

These days, when I need full-featured productivity suite features and capabilities, my tool of choice is The Document Foundation’s excellent Open Source Libre Office (pictured above), which can be installed on as many computers as I like—Mac, Windows, or Linux—for the same friendly price: nothing.

Other free office suite software solutions are Oracle’s OpenOffice, Neoffice, GNOME Office, and Calligra Suite.

Reasonably-priced commercial office software alternatives for Mac-users include Apple own $79 iWork suite, $49 ThinkFree Office, and Mariner Software’s $79 MarinerPak.

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  • GaryDL

    WHat about good old reliable WordPerfect if you are on a PC. Sure–it is not free, but I still think it is the best productivity software available! Try it again – you will not be disappointed!

  • Batman

    Microsoft just doesn’t get it it is living in a by gone era just like Adobe. They place profit ahead of what the customer wants and needs. They think their consumers are all noob lemings. I have been using Google Docs and iWork successfully in business – bar some minor features no one really needs to use MS Office anymore – other than just dumb habit. Instead of innovation they turn draconian impracticality with little or no real return – Just one more nail hammered on their coffin of demise I guess. Their future path appears to be similar to that of the Dodo bird…