By Richard Mallion
Microsoft recently launched their new edition of Microsoft Office, Office 2013, and with it there is a sting in the tail for the retail version.
So what has changed?
Previous versions of Microsoft Office only permitted one installation on one device but there was nothing stopping you from uninstalling Office and installing it on to another device. This was useful if your PC died or you were upgrading to a new PC.
With Office 2013 the license agreement has changed. Office 2013 is now licensed to one specific PC which means that if your PC fails, you are not allowed to reinstall it onto a new PC. When the PC dies, so does your copy of Office. The Age’s reporter Adam Turner has confirmed this with Microsoft after being led a merry dance.
Microsoft’s solution to this is their Office 365 subscription service. With this service you don’t buy the software, instead you subscribe to it, the important thing being is that the subscription is tied to the user and not the hardware.
Clearly Microsoft are pushing people down the subscription route which will keep this gravy train running for a bit longer.
I suspect that this is the start of a new trend. There are already rumours that the next generation Xbox will not allow you to run second hand games. A bit like Office 2013, the game once bought, will be activated against your console and will not be transferable. We’re yet to see if this pans out.
In the meantime there are some good alternatives to the Microsoft flavoured Office. Apple supplies it’s iWorks suite, while it doesn’t have all the features of Office it does serve the majority of people OK. Then there are many open source alternatives such as Open Office and Libre Office.
Businesses are most likely exempt from this as they tend to buy volume licenses.