Office 2013 Perpetual Licensing Largely Unchanged

Posted: 
December 17, 2012
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The two Office 2013 suites for Windows PCs offered through volume licensing—Office Standard 2013 and Office Professional Plus 2013—retain the same per-device licensing model, pricing, product use rights, and Software Assurance (SA) benefits as their Office 2010 predecessors. However, Microsoft has added two new mobility-related rights to enable business use of Office on Windows RT tablets (such as Microsoft's Surface devices) and to enable Office 2013 users to roam among computers with Windows 8's Windows To Go feature.

Still the Same

With Office 2013, the traditional Office suite licensing approach—purchasing perpetual licenses through volume licensing programs—remains intact, and it is still based on a per-device licensing model, with each client device used to display the Office user interface (in most cases) requiring an Office license. Devices requiring a license include client PCs and Macs where Office executes locally, as well as devices used to interact with Office suites installed and executing on Remote Desktop Session Host (formerly called Terminal Server) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) servers.

All use rights provided with Office 2010 in volume licensing remain the same for Office 2013, including:

Version downgrade. Organizations may use any older version of the Office suite they licensed, which is useful for maintaining a standard version.

Multiple instances. Organizations may install and run multiple copies of the suite on the licensed device, which is useful when users need multiple versions on their PCs or when they run virtual machines.

License reassignment. Organizations may generally move a license between devices (within their organization), but not within 90 days of the last assignment.

Pricing for the two suites offered in volume licensing remains constant, with Office Standard 2013 priced at US$373, and Office Professional Plus 2013 at US$508. (These are Open NL suggested reseller prices and represent the highest price a U.S. customer would pay when purchasing through volume licensing). The differences between the suites have not changed: Office Professional Plus includes a few applications, such as Access, that are not in Office Standard, and Office Professional Plus offers unique server integration features, such as the ability to automatically archive Outlook data to Exchange Server.

Most benefits of SA coverage on Office have not changed with the release of Office 2013. These include the following:

  • The right to new product versions released during the period SA is active
  • Roaming use rights, which permit use of Office on unlicensed computers in some circumstances
  • Eligibility for the Home Use Program, which offers Office licenses for home use to an organization's employees at nominal cost
  • Use of the Office Multilanguage pack to enable global deployment of corporate Office images
  • The option to purchase edition Step-Up licenses, which provide discounted upgrades from Office Standard to Office Professional Plus.

Since Office 2013 became available for download by volume licensing customers in Oct. 2012, customers with SA on an Office suite as of Oct. 2012 are entitled to a license for the same edition of the Office 2013 version.

Office RT Commercial Use Rights Added

Office Standard 2013 and Office Professional Plus 2013 licenses introduce a right related to tablets and other devices built on ARM chipsets (rather than traditional Intel or AMD processors) that run the Windows RT OS. Windows RT includes an Office suite called Office Home & Student 2013 RT that delivers Word, Excel, OneNote, and PowerPoint. That suite's license terms prohibit use for commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating activities. (See "Licensing Office RT for Commercial Use".)

Office Standard 2013 and Office Professional Plus 2013 licenses (as well as Office for Mac Standard 2011 licenses) lift the restriction on commercial use for Office RT. Specifically, the single primary user of the licensed PC or Mac may use Office Home & Student 2013 RT for commercial purposes on any Windows RT device. Thus, companies that have rights to Office 2013 in volume licensing may use Windows RT devices and Office RT for business purposes without the added expense of having to acquire freestanding Office RT commercial use licenses.

Roaming Rights Expanded to Cover Windows To Go

A new Windows 8 feature called Windows To Go (WTG) allows users to boot a computer from a Windows 8 image on a USB flash drive rather than using the OS and applications installed on the PC's hard drive. WTG is attractive to organizations because users who need to connect to the organization's network from an unmanaged computer can do so using a corporate-sanctioned instance of Windows 8 Enterprise edition. Customers interested in WTG will likely want to include a copy of Office on each Windows To Go image they use for the Windows To Go USB drives, and Office 2013 licensing rules have been expanded to allow this.

Some WTG scenarios are already covered by longstanding Office licensing rules. The Office Standard and Office Professional Plus licensing model is generally concerned with the device used to interact with the software rather than how the software is installed. So, a PC assigned an Office Standard or Office Professional Plus license can run the software off a WTG USB drive, as long as the license is for the same or more recent version of the equivalent edition as deployed under WTG.

To accommodate scenarios where WTG is used on a PC that is not licensed for Office Standard or Office Professional Plus, Microsoft has expanded the Office suite's roaming use rights, which were originally created to cover Remote Desktop Session Host (Terminal Services), VDI, and local virtual machine scenarios. Specifically, the primary user of a PC that has an Office license covered by SA may go to an unlicensed PC and use Office from a WTG USB drive as long as the unlicensed PC meets two conditions. First, the unlicensed PC booting from the USB drive must be off the organization's physical premises. And second, the unlicensed PC may not be "controlled, directly or indirectly" by the organization (generally understood to be a proxy for device ownership).

Note that to use Office on WTG, the organization must also meet the licensing requirements Windows 8 imposes for WTG. Specifically, the WTG user must be the primary user of a PC covered by SA for Windows or a Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription license.

Resources

Licensing of Office RT is covered in more detail in "Licensing Office RT for Commercial Use".

Office 2013 licensing is explained in the licensing brief "Licensing Microsoft Office software in Volume Licensing" at www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/briefs/volume-licensing.aspx and "Volume Licensing Reference Guide: Microsoft Office" accessible via a link on www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/office.aspx.

Legal text for Office 2013 licensing rules are in Microsoft's quarterly Product Use Rights (PUR) document, published quarterly at www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/product-licensing.aspx, and monthly Product List at posted at www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/product-licensing.aspx#tab=2. The Oct. 2012 PUR is the first to include mention of Office 2013 suites, supplemented by text in the Dec. 2012 Product List concerning the extension to roaming use rights related to USB drives. However, the modifications to roaming use rights are incorporated in the Jan. 2013 PUR (and remove from the Jan. 2013 Product List), making the Jan. 2013 PUR the best starting point for legal questions.

Office 2010 suite licensing for enterprises and the advantages of Microsoft Volume Licensing for Office purchases are explained in the Feb. 2012 Licensing Outline, "Licensing Office 2010 Suites".

Windows To Go licensing details are covered in "Licensing the Windows To Go Feature of Windows 8" on page 16 of the Sept. 2012 Update.

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