Wording in the current licensing conditions for the retail version of Office 13 indicate that customers are not allowed to transfer the software to another computer even if the hard drive fails or the consumer upgrades to a new PC. The suite is essentially locked to one MAC address and cannot be deactivated, forcing customers to purchase another copy. The only way the software can be transferred is if Office 2013 came pre-installed and the machine fails under warranty.
As stated back in February, that's a big change from Office 2010. In the older retail-based suite, Microsoft limited installation to the licensed device and an additional portable device (laptop), the latter of which must be used by the single primary user of the licensed device. For the pre-installed OEM version, Microsoft wasn't as lenient, permanently assigning the license to the store-bought desktop or laptop.
Thus with Office 2013, Microsoft is essentially using the OEM model across the board – no transfers for anyone. Thankfully, that's about to change thanks to customer feedback (opens in new tab), as the negative reactions to the new policy have provoked Microsoft into rethinking its approach to an obvious piracy-related stance with the Office suite.
"We have changed the Office 2013 retail license agreement to allow customers to transfer the software from one computer to another," said Jason Fark of the Office Team. "This means customers can transfer Office 2013 to a different computer if their device fails or they get a new one."
Fark said that the licensing agreement accompanying the Office 2013 software will be updated in a future release. In the meantime, the change is effective immediately and applies to Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, Office Professional 2013 and the standalone Office 2013 applications.
"At Microsoft, we strive to make Office the very best product to help busy people and families get things done," he added. "A key ingredient in our formula for success is listening to our customers, and we're grateful for the feedback behind this change in Office licensing."
Here is the updated text explaining how the software can be transferred, essentially saying only one copy and reside on a single device at a time (no multi-installs):
Q: Can I transfer the software to another computer or user?
A: 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." 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.