You can say what you want about Microsoft, but one thing you can’t accuse it of is not listening. You may recall the storm of protest across the Web a couple of weeks ago when it became clear that the licensing agreement on the new Office 2013 release limited each license to a single machine. Well, according to a blog post from Microsoft, it has caved in to consumer pressure.

Office 2013 Licensing

Not that this should be seen as a cave in -- more the triumph of common sense over commercial madness. Under the old agreement, users didn’t have the right to transfer their Office 2013 to a device other than the one they originally installed it on.

This meant that even if their computer went belly-up, they didn’t have the right to install their Office 2013 license on a new computer.

With all kinds of productivity offerings on the market at the moment, including Google Drive, or even LibreOffice, it seems more likely that users would change vendors rather than buy another Office 2013 license.

While it’s hard to pin-down why Microsoft introduced this, it appears to have been part of the stick that would drive users to Office in the cloud, which Microsoft has yet to admit it is trying to do.

In any case, the outcry was such that it has now backed down and changed the terms of the licensing agreement. In a post on the Office blog by Jevon Fark of the Office Team who outlined the details of the original Microsoft agreement on the Office blog, Microsoft put its hands up and conceded defeat.

On the blog post he says that “… based on customer feedback, we have changed the retail license to allow customers transfer software from one computer to another. This means customers can transfer Office 2013 to a different computer if their device fails or they get a new one.”

This as opposed to the previous agreement, which stated that they could only transfer their Office 2013 license to another device if the computer failed under warranty.

Office 2013 New Licensing Agreement

These changes are effective immediately, Fork says, even if the license agreement accompanying the Office 2013 will only be updated in a future release. It applies to all the different versions including Office Home and Student 2013, Office Home and Business 2013, Office Professional 2013 and the standalone Office 2013 applications. In other words, it goes back to the original agreements as they stood with the Office 2010 release.

But just to be sure about it, here is the exact wording of the new agreement:

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.

As a final word Fark says that one of the formulas for Microsoft’s success is “listening to our customers…” In this case there wasn’t really much choice.

Even with this change and in light of the pricing arrangements around Office 365, the obvious choice for business users is still to go the online route, just in terms of the number of devices licensed and the price of Office 365 subscriptions.

Microsoft didn’t need to chance the Office 2013 licensing agreement to encourage people online. Why it changed the agreement in the first place is a mystery, but one that has a happy ending, at least for consumers.