Under the original policy, customers could only transfer Office 365 installations to a new computer if their old one failed while under warranty. So any crash outside of that window would mean that potential buyers couldn't re-install the software on a new machine. In a February 19 blog post, Microsoft made this restriction painfully clear with a nice chart that provoked some, shall we say, less-than-polite comments.
In a post published on the Office Blog this morning, Microsoft announced the reversal, stating:
You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you, but not more than one time every 90 days (except due to hardware failure, in which case you may transfer sooner). If you transfer the software to another computer, that other computer becomes the "licensed computer."
"These transferability options are equivalent to those found in the Office 2010 retail license terms," writes Jevon Fark of the Office Team. The new license terms apply to Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, and Office Professional 2013.
(See also Microsoft: Buy Office 365, Not Office 2013. Or You'll Get Left Behind)
For full clarity, here is an outline of the revised terms as laid about by Microsoft:
- You may also transfer the software (together with the license) to a computer owned by someone else if a) you are the first licensed user of the software and b) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement before the transfer.
- Any time you transfer the software to a new computer, you must remove the software from the prior computer and you may not retain any copies.
While it's certainly nice to see a company listen to its customers' complaints, it shouldn't take widespread hatred of a new policy and two weeks of deliberation for an outfit like Microsoft to see the light. The bad news here is the damage may already have been done, especially if some potential buyers have sworn off the lock-in license terms of Office and jumped ship entirely. This appears to be Microsoft's plea to keep them onboard.