Thursday, February 21, 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 OEM licensing - the other shoe drops

Microsoft releases Office 2013 to OEMs

So the other shoe has dropped on Office 2013 - and this one not only emphasizes the THUD from the last licensing reveal, but reiterates it with a thud of it's own.  While a preinstall to hard disk kit is available to shorten download times, Microsoft is pushing (and vendors are hopping on this with abandon) installing Office 2013 OEM entirely from a log-on to Windows Live.

The process works like this - you get only a license key when purchasing an OEM copy of MS Office 2013.  You can't just run the software and activate the license - you must go to to install, and you must establish a Live ID and your packaged license code to get to the download and install screen - there is no alternate installation method.  Once there you can download and install your oem version on one machine.  Although it says in the FAQ that you can come back to the site to re-download and install, it's not clear if you can reactivate after say a hard drive wipe and reinstall.  We'll just have to see as Microsoft could not give a clear answer.

Also unclear is whether you can do this with more than one license on a single LiveID - IE must I have a unique live id for each OEM license, or can I use one live ID to download and install all my licenses?  Enquiring minds want to know but even Microsoft Support and licensing couldn't answer this one definitively.  Their recommendation - "try it and let us know how it works - we'll leave this case open".  Helpful.  Not.

This doesn't of course consider the case of whether the end user has a fast internet connection or not.  Over some internet connections the multi hundreds of megabyte office download may well take hours.  Additionally, what is the first thing I want to do with a machine - well.... use it.  But I can't because I may be sitting around for quite a while before any useful software is loaded on it.
Finally there's the issue of the LiveIDs.  How many people will create a one-time throwaway live id and then forget the username and password.  With the old system all they needed was their install disks and their keycode.  They can't even ORDER install disks any more. Update - you can order backup install disks - once you activate using your live ID.

Fortunately you do not need to associate the live ID you used for install with Office for cloud storage etc.  I can just imagine managing this for a 50 user install and having them all share the same 7gb skydrive.  Fortunately once installed and authenticated you don't need to ever log into that account again from that computer.

All this points to a drive towards subscription based systems.  Which begs the question of - are you ready for it?  I predict that OEM and OEM pricing will go away. The new subscription based systems are cost effective on a 3 year new version renewal plan - I suspect rather than noodle with all the rest of this stuff this will drive more small to medium businesses and all individuals into subscriptions.  And with Microsoft's cash grab on the low end subscriptions - resellers make ZERO dollars on these installs and ZERO recurring revenue.  I suspect that Microsoft may have written the death knell for office within the next 5 years unless they fix some of these deficiencies.