Sunday, October 31, 2010

Buyer Beware: Microsoft Office 2011 for Macintosh, Academic License

I just finished reading the academic license for Microsoft's latest Office suite for OS X.  The academic license is very restrictive and may prove to make the $99 cost not economical.

The reason is that the academic license of Office is permanently installed on the first Mac it is installed onto.  Thus, if your computer goes out to pasture, you're out of luck and will need to get a new license.  Other licenses for Office 2011 allow a one-time transfer to another computer.

Update: Feb 16, 2011. Here's what I'm referring to within the academic license:
"'a. One Copy per Device. The software license is permanently assigned to the device on which the software is initially activated. That device is the “licensed device.”'

This does not appear on any other license.  In fact, other licenses have specific transfer rights.  The academic license does not.

I did not decipher this in the license itself, but be aware that the box says "One user, One Mac."  This seems to imply only the academic user that bought it can use it.  But I don't see how that could be enforceable without causing a lot of headaches for users.  The One Mac, in this case, REALLY means One Mac.  Not One Mac install at a time.

So, it may be better, if you need office on a Mac, to buy the Office for Home & Business edition if you want the software to have longevity.  Other people have lamented the fact that it can't be installed on a laptop and desktop simultaneously so long as you use only one at a time.  But Apple Pages has the same restriction.

What am I going to do?  Continue using Office 2007 in a Windows virtual machine.  But usually I rock it with MacTeX and Lyx, anyway.

Update, Nov 7 2010: I should note that the Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows Academic license is a full-blown license with no transfer restrictions.  It, apparently, can also be installed on a portable machine owned by the single user.  The license is also $20 less.  I have to wonder if the onerous restrictions in Office for Mac 2011 is purposeful: Microsoft would prefer you not use OSX, and so provides some justification via licensing.  Microsoft, those restrictions are a net negative, in my case. Sorry. 


  1. The advise about installing on a different Mac is bogus. If Office 2011 reports too many activations, you call MS and let them know you are installing to a new computer - no issues will arise unless you are lying. On the new Mac install, re Activate and continue. The new machine is now activated and any other installs are de-activated. I'd have hoped that anyone writing a review to the contrary would have taken the 10 minutes to get the info right - oh well, some people's kids....

  2. Strict reading of the license may not mesh with reality, but it is what it is.

  3. As an update from:
    "The following license grant strictly applies to Office for Mac University 2011. Notwithstanding what the license terms say when you first install the software, you may install another copy of the software on a portable device for your use."