Office Suite Licensing - Microsoft vs. Corel

I've been well-known for advising firms and companies on their Microsoft Office licensing strategy. Recently I got an e-mail from an attorney asking if I could elaborate on Corel WordPerfect's licensing. So...

The two are actually somewhat similar.  Each has an OEM version, Retail, Academic and Student versions - though not by exactly the same names.

OEM Version

OEM software is software that comes bundled with a piece of equipment you buy. If you get a new computer from Dell, for example, and get Microsoft Office 2010 preinstalled on it then you've got an OEM license of Microsoft Office in all likelihood.  Same if you get WordPerfect X5 preinstalled from the vendor.

Microsoft's OEM license is locked to the machine you bought it on. You can't install that license on any other machines, even if you get rid of the original computer you bought it with.  If you replace that computer you have to buy Office again.

Corel's OEM license is slightly more forgiving. The software is tied to a single device, which you bought the software with, but if you should ever replace that piece of equipment you can move the WordPerfect X5 license to the replacement device.

Retail Version

Both Microsoft and Corel sell their products at retail (which is to say the box you can buy from Amazon or Best Buy). Both versions can be installed on your device and, if you ever replace that device with a new one you can move the retail license of either product to the new device, no problem.

However...Microsoft's Retail licensing (for their business versions of Office) is slightly different in one respect. It allows you to install the same license of Office on a desktop computer AND a portable (laptop/notebook/netbook) computer for the same primary user.  So if you have a desktop and a laptop you can install the same license of Office 2010 on each - again, as long as you're the primary user of both devices.

Corel's retail licensing also lets you install on multiple devices for the same primary user - up to three devices in fact - but stipulates that only one of those devices may be in use at a time. So while you could have a single license of Word on your desktop and your laptop running side by side on your desk, you can't do that with a single license of WordPerfect (not sure why you'd want to but hey...).

NOTE: the "Product Key Card" version of Microsoft Office that you can buy at retail is *NOT* the same as a Retail License. In fact, for all practical purposes, it's an OEM license.

Student Editions

Both vendors sell "Student" edition of their software and while the contents of the box may be slightly different, the contents of the license are roughly the same. Both allow you to install on up to 3 computers in your household and both prohibit using the Student version of the software for commercial purposes.

Note: Microsoft's "Home & Student Edition" does NOT include Outlook.

Academic versions of either suite vary a bit but again...both vendors state that the Academic versions of their software are NOT to be used for commercial purposes.

Volume License

Volume licenses are often the best way to go for your business - even small business. They generally convey all of the benefits of the Retail versions of the software when it comes to device portability (and even sharing licenses among multiple devices for the same primary user) but add a lot of managability and cost of ownership benefits by being geared towards companies (rather than individuals).

Talk to your software vendor if you're interested, or call Roland Schorr & Tower at (928) 377-5630.

If you'd like to read Corel's EULA for Office X5 you can find it here.

You'll find Microsoft's Office 2010 End-User License Agreement here.