Writers who live and breathe MS Word probably won’t be happy to hear the following:  the 2013 version of Microsoft Office only allows you to install the office suite on a single PC (instead of several, like your laptop and desktop).

Astonishingly, if that PC dies, stolen or is replaced, Microsoft’s license doesn’t let you install Office 2013 on the new PC without buying another license (from ReadWrite):

Users pretty much get the fact that you have to buy multiple licenses of Office (or other locally installed software) when using it at the same time. But now Microsoft is saying that their software is forever tied to the first PC on which you install Office 2013.

Curiously, Microsoft is trying to justify this move with the somewhat whiney excuse that they’ve done this before.

“Office 2013 has the same licensing provisions around transferability as the equivalent Office 2010 package, which was the package purchased by most Office 2010 customers,” the company told Bradley.

Um, not quite. Computerworld did some digging and learned that while there was language in Office 2010’s EULA that seemed to limit one licensed copy to one PC, there were allowances in the legalese made for shifting from one PC to another.

“‘You may reassign the license to a different device any number of times, but not more than one time every 90 days,’ stated the EULA for Office Home & Student 2010, the most popular consumer version of that edition. ‘If you reassign, that other device becomes the ‘licensed device.’ If you retire the licensed device due to hardware failure, you may reassign the license sooner.'”

That kind of language has been removed from Office 2013’s EULA.

Nice, Microsoft. Nice.

They not only change the licensing terms, but when they’re called on it, their response is to misrepresent their new license.

And oh yeah — they’re *raising* the price of Office for the Mac.

You feeling the love?

Industry pundits think Microsoft’s abusive licensing terms are designed to push people to cloud versions of the software. And in this instance, I have to agree with Microsoft — it’s time for a switch. But not to Office 2013 or its cloud version.

Maybe it’s time to think “free.”

Thanks, But I’m Out Of The Office

I left MS Office behind after the 2003 version. Since then I’ve relied on LibreOffice/OpenOffice (LibreOffice is the newer fork of the older Open Office).

This open source (free!) office suite has undergone a recent series of upgrades that have dramatically improved file imports, which were an issue 4-5 years ago (especially MS Word’s anti-industry standards .docx format).

I’ve experienced few problems opening client MS Word documents. In fact, I haven’t experienced a single file formatting/track changes issue in two years (admittedly I don’t often work with hyper-complex documents).

Hey, You’re A Writer, Not An Art Director

LibreOffice is not as powerful as MS Office and the interface at times feels clunky, but then the vast majority of users — especially writers — don’t really need all that power, most of which is focused on document formatting, not text processing.

LibreOffice website

The LibreOffice website (click image to free yourself from MS Office).

I’ve built a lot of presentations on Impress (the LibreOffice PowerPoint equivalent), and Draw is a happy little graphics program (I use it for forms). LibreOffice Calc is the spreadsheet, and it’s built and opened every spreadsheet that’s come across my desk the last four years save one. Power-mad spreadsheet hounds won’t want to switch from Excel to LibreOffice Calc, but I did, and haven’t experienced a problem.

Because LibreOffice is free, those concerned about MS Word document compatibility can simply download the latest version (the 4.0 release) and try it.

Open a few MS Word documents. See how the notes and change tracking works. Open your templates and see what happens.

My guess? You’re facing a little bit of touchup (typically related to font switching). It’s a new piece of software and that’s always disorienting, but most of us type letters onto a screen and then format them a little bit, and any number of software packages can do that for without an abusive licensing agreement.

And while you’re playing with LibreOffice, keep the following in mind; LibreOffice can be installed on each and every one of your computers, and buying a new PC doesn’t involve paying for another copy of the office suite you already own.

Those looking for even better MS Office compatibility (and a return to the older Office 2003-style interface) also might consider Softmaker’s Office 2012 — an affordable office clone that I also own and sometimes use (their “Textmaker” Android app works beautifully with MS Word documents).

With most of my text written for online use, I don’t much bother with word processors, but even if I did, I can’t quite choke down abusive licensing terms designed to herd me to a cloud version I don’t want.

Keep writing (on anything but MS Word), Tom Chandler.