Office 2010: No Upgrade Pricing, No Transfers, No Way!

I’m a Microsoft Office devotee. Sure, cloud-based apps are fine. But I like dependable, fast software right on my own computer. My life revolves fairly happily around Outlook. You can pry Excel out of my cold dead fingers. But maybe it’ll be Excel 2007 you’ll be prying away, because Office 2010’s new pricing policy has really ticked me off.

I’ve been using the beta version of Office 2010 for several months. It’s been great. Outlook has had many helpful improvements that continue making it a solid program. Excel? Well, I still miss the simplicity of Excel 2003. But at least Excel 2010 didn’t make anything worse than the confusion Excel 2007 unleashed. PowerPoint remains solid and Word, yeah, I rarely load that bloatware.

Dude, Where’s My Upgrade?

Now Office 2010 is out for sale. I got an email invite today to purchase it, since I’m a beta user. Absolutely! I clicked through to see what the upgrade pricing was:

Nothing. No mention of upgrade pricing.

I thought maybe it was a marketing trick. You know, don’t list that there’s an upgrade price and maybe they’ll pay full price. So I started digging around.

Upgrade Pricing Is Too Confusing For Mere Mortals

In the end, I found this on the FAQ page:

To simplify our Office 2010 product offering, version upgrade suites are no longer available. However, we are now offering more ways to buy Office 2010 with a new preloaded PC. For more information on Product Key Cards, visit

But Two “Home” Products Is Crystal Clear

Seriously? Upgrade pricing was confusing? I mean, if Microsoft really wants to simplify things, here’s a thought. How about one suite that includes everything for a single price rather than the three suites that require a comparison chart:

Not only are there still three different suites but two of them are both “Home” versions:

All this concern that upgrade pricing would be confusing, but putting out two “Home” versions isn’t?

The difference, of course, is that “Home & Student” is for those doing “non-commercial” work. If you’re not making money in any way using that version of Office, you’re good. That’s pretty clear from the product name, right?

No Upgrade Price Feels Like Price Increase

I’ve been using Microsoft Office for I think as long as there’s been an Microsoft Office, and I’ve always had the ability to upgrade. I’ve also always upgraded because of it. In one way, it has rewarded my loyalty and kept me from moving. When I was just starting out, it was also an important price break. Every penny saved helped.

These days, I’m not so much price sensitive as fairness sensitive. It just feels wrong that in Microsoft’s new world, there’s no upgrade discount. But sure, I can also agree that really, each “upgrade” has really been a new product, so maybe it’s time we get over the entire “upgrade” idea.

Maybe I’ll Upgrade To “Free”

Still, there’s another change that’s been happening. I, and many other people, are weighing a decision to buy Microsoft’s entirely new software — with no upgrade discount — against Google Docs. Which are free.

What the hell is Microsoft thinking? Faced with a competing product that’s free, it effectively ups the price of its software for millions of loyal users?

Heck, Microsoft Office as software is even now competing with Microsoft Office on the web, which is also free. Excel on the web looks pretty good. Why again should I be paying Microsoft what feels like a higher price for its software, when it wants to give me much of that software for free?

Avoid The Limited “Product Key Card” Preloaded Edition

How about that way Microsoft says you can save by purchasing a preloaded version on a new PC, the Product Key Card option. Yeah, avoid that. Sure, it’ll save you $70 off the Home & Business edition. But you’ll only be able to install it one one computer and not transfer it to another computer, if yours should die or you upgrade to a new machine.

In contrast, the regular version of Office maintains the enlightened approach Microsoft has had for many years. You could run it on two devices, great for those who go from a laptop and desktop computer. It’s a wonderful policy. And if you need to move the license, you can.

The formal lingo from Microsoft:

If you purchase a Traditional Disc retail license of Office Home and Business 2010 or Office Professional 2010, the retail license terms allow you to install, activate, and use Office Home and Business 2010 or Office Professional 2010 on your primary PC and your portable device such as your laptop. This license is for your use exclusively.

If you purchase an Office 2010 Product Key Card, you can only activate and use the suite on one PC or device.

Waiting & Watching

When my beta expires on October 31, yeah, I’ll probably buy the retail version then. It is great software. I do want software in addition to cloud-based options. But I’ll be holding my nose as I do it, if the current price point is maintained. Or I’ll be shopping around like at Amazon, where the Home & Student edition is currently $20 cheaper than what Microsoft is selling it for ($129 versus $149) and the Home & Business version is $30 cheaper ($239 versus $279).

I may or may not earn off those links to Amazon, by the way, if you click and buy that way. Currently Amazon’s affiilate program doesn’t support direct linking to those products, for reasons that are beyond me. But I’d rather point directly to the right place to save readers money, regardless if it fills my Amazon tip jar.

For related Office 2010 launch news, see Techmeme. Also check out this nice hands-on with the free web version of Office by Charles Arthur at The Guardian.

Postscript: I forgot to mention there is upgrade pricing for one unique situation. That’s if you bought a qualifying version of Microsoft Office 2007 between March 5 and September 30, 2010, as explained here. In that case, you can download Office 2010 for free or get the DVD version for a fee (I can’t find how much this is).

Oddly, this means that potentially people can find copies of Office 2007 out there, which should begin to be heavily discounted, and get a free copy of Office 2010. Of course, the copies have to come from authorized retailers, which apparently is anyone but eBay and Craigslist, as those are the only two places singled out as not authorized (no authorized list is given).

Amazingly, you can even upgrade for free from recently purchased Office 2007 upgrade editions. In other words, you can buy a cheaper version of Office 2007 right now, if you can find it. Then you never need to use it. You just need the product ID to get a free version of Office 2010.

Right now on Amazon, Office Pro 2007 Upgrade is $300. That’s $160 less than the version of Office 2010 that it allows you to upgrade to. Crazy.

Also, Kelbyj who’s with Microsoft marketing, apparently judging from his Twitter bio, tweeted:

Re: upgrade pricing – Truth is not many users bought the upgrade so we optimized 4 new PC purchases.  Would love 2 chat more.

That does help to know.


  1. says

    I, too, am running the beta, and not quite looking forward to it expiring. I traditionally run Office 2007, but on my new Windows 7 machine, I decided to try Office 2010.
    The home and student versions of MS office have always been missing something, and alot of software that I support that intergrates with it won’t work without having at least MS office Basic, due to the libraries that are included.
    Sometime soon, even though you, like me, are a power user, you may want to check out Office Web apps. Minus the Outlook, it may help with a transistion to cloud based office.

  2. Mike_OfficeOutreach says

    YoufoundJake- What do you feel has been missing from the home and student versions of MS office ?

  3. says

    ^^ You gotta be kidding me! There’s an epic rant slamming you entirely and you ask a commenter on what’s missing?! This Outreach team is a joke.

  4. says

    Heh no really give it up! MS Office is died a long time ago but you guys keep it alive by complaining a lot and then still buying it. Mr Ballmer does not mind complaints and wining- if you still keep paying !

    Pack it in . you do not need it and also stop measuring your self worth work wise by how many WORD documents of spreadsheets you produce. No one cares and no one reads them. If you work for some one who really really measures work by these tools .. leave.. life is too short

    Jules now proudly Not working by MS office rules 😉

  5. Bernie says

    It’s quite hard to beat on price if you want a cloud-free Office Suite. It won’t replace Outlook, though other things do for a similarly unbeatable price.

  6. smyth_rj says

    LOL, hope you unpaid beta testers didn’t give MS too much free feedback only to get screwed for it. Greed + lazy users is what is killing the IT industry and the primary cause of people wining about how expensive/difficult computers are. It was never meant to be this way and it looks to be getting worse all the time.

  7. Jules says

    My way round the lack up upgrades was to buy an upgrade version of MS Office 2007 Small Business Edition which qualifies for the MS Technology Guarantee and a free upgrade to Office 2010 Professional. The 2007 SBE upgrade is currently listed on Amazon at $222.93 compared with the $459.00 cost of Office 2010 Professional. I am now running Office Professional 2010 on my PC! (There are similar savings on UK sites, but avoid Ebay, as it is excluded from the Tech Guarantee).

  8. WarpKat says

    Nothing wrong with conceding the notion that your butt is hurting right about now. Nothing wrong whatsoever.

    Of course, there is always OpenOffice or Google Docs.

  9. Jane says

    Your choices are easy: pony up the money for the latest version or keep using 2007. Personally, I’ll keep using 2007 till I can afford the new version. That said, from my experience as a mere user, Word is still the best product on the marketplace to ‘write’ with.

  10. says

    Julian, I really like having software, not just to measure my worth but simply because sometimes, software still beats cloud/browser based apps for usability. I did a short post on this last year:

    Bernie, thanks for the OpenOffice link. I meant to add that but ran out of steam. It’s a good offering for those looking at alternatives.

    Smyth_RJ. I’m not lazy. I’m not greedy. I’m more than happy to pay for software. I do and have. I’m just surprised to discover, as someone who does, that Microsoft effectively has rewarded my loyalty by upping the price of their software. At the same time, they’ve also lowered the value of it by making completely free versions available.

    Gunanr, I meant Excel 2003. I’ll fix that.

  11. sookie says

    I signed up for and looked at the beta version. Correct me if I”m wrong but I got the impression that the only version that you can install on your PC (rather than the cloud) is the $500 pro version. The other two are only cloud.

    That was enough for me to not look any further at the beta program.

    If you want free that resides on you PC, look at open office. Much better than what I’ve seen of google docs.

  12. Aart says

    You have voiced every single one of my peeves about this mind-numbing blunder by Microsoft!!! WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? Are they TRYING to steer everyone AWAY from Office?
    I too beta tested the 2010 offering, and found it barely acceptable to put out for the upgrade on four machines… but now, that is out of the question. Over a grand to “upgrade”? Forget about it.
    I’ll be sticking to my 2007. Uninstalling the 2010 beta as I write.
    Microsoft, you have pulled some pretty dumb stunts before, but this one tops the list.

  13. says

    Sookie, you can install any of the three versions on a computer, the less expensive Home & Student and Home & Business editions or the highest priced one, Professional.

  14. Ed Gould says

    I can now proudly say I have a Microsoft free computer. No Office no email package no *ANYTHING* and I love it and no fees to go to pay for Bill’s attempt to infiltrate the world with MS products. As they say Free at last !

  15. David Palmer says

    Thanks Micro$oft for making the decision easier. Since the early 1980’s there has always been upgrade pricing on Microcomputer software. After all we are paying for NEW developments and have already paid for the package.

    Each year our budgets come under pressure and we consider the move to OpenOffice. Well now we can justify the training costs which were the only obstacle.

    So thanks Microsoft you just made the decision much easier.

  16. Georgy Py says

    I will never pay for software when free alternatives are available! When it comes to Microsoft, there is no free, just pay up! 😡

    But if you don’t want to buy MS Office, but would rather go with something more native to Windows itself, you should try SSuite Office for a free office suite. They have a whole range of office suites that are free for download. :)

  17. Pete_C says

    Also, other good choice is to go with Kingsoft Office 2010 from BinaryNow. Their upgrades are free and new users pay small $40 reg fee. It supports old format (doc, xls, ppt) as well as new formats (docx, xlsx, pptx) from Microsoft Office.

  18. says

    I personally don’t use Office at all, at least not at home. I’m a Mac man and use iWork which I purchased at a very reasonable price and its never let me down. When it comes to cloud based apps, I’ve barely used them and I prefer not to have to rely upon an internet connection.

  19. Myztry says

    As Jules pointed out, buy the retail Office 2007 Small Business Edition (~AU$225) and upgrade to Office 2010 Professional Retail (AU$849) for free via the technology guarantee. (eg.
    As this gives you a retail (FPP) license, you are entitled to move it between computers and install a second copy to a mobile (laptop/netbook) device for the use of the same user as set out under Retail License clause 2.c.
    One caveat though. Since Microsoft use the Product ID inside Office 2007 which ignores the product key (any and all installations are the same per PC) to determine eligibility for upgrade, install Office 2007 on a PC that hasn’t had Office 2007 activated outside the eligible period. Otherwise even a valid, eligible upgrade attempt will fail.
    Once you have the Office 2010 Professional (FPP) Retail key, you can move the installation around as permitted by the retail license.
    Takes a couple of days for them to ship the physical media (AU$17) if you require which is maybe a good idea since it contains the 64bit installer unlike the download. Beware that 32bit applications can’t use the MAPI functionality of 64bit office (Outlook).

  20. Linda Mc says

    Office 2010 will have to wait until I replace or overhaul my laptop, which I do not expect to happen soon. I have and dislike Office 2007 at home, and use MS Office at work as well. For personal use, I am considering a WordPerfect Office Suite upgrade. My computer came with WP and a trial of other Corel programs; I think it’s time for me to purchase them for ongoing use. For me, a touch typist who rarely uses graphics in my personal work, the MS “ribbon” is their worst innovation since the mouse.

  21. Wagner says

    I can’t believe how many cheap bastards are out there… I’ve been using Office product for my business for many years and have made a boat load of money doing it. I for one don’t mind paying a fair price for such a valuable and reliable tool. As mentioned by other posters, you can be creative and attain the new suite for a heavily discounted price.

  22. says

    I think this pricing scheme is outrageous. I understand that if you are running your (home) business on Office, it kind of makes sense to pay a little extra for the applications. But this only applies in the US and Canada, perhaps western Europe. In other places, the products are still prohibitively expensive and upgrade pricing allowed at least some people to go for legal usage (we must admit that the free and open-source is still miles behind the MS Office).
    I do not like this decision at all and think it will discourage people from switching to each new version – in other words will skip upgrading, resulting in smaller revenues for MS.
    – Lorne

  23. Canadian in London says

    I had just spent the last 30 minutes Googling (and binging) for Office 2007 & Visio 2007 upgrade pricing. I finally came across this post informing me that MS is no longer offering upgrade pricing to existing customers.
    What a colossal f**k up! I have no anti-capitalist agenda against M$. I run a business and spend ££££ on software each year, from software development tools to CAD. I bought Office 2007 and Visio 2007, and I make good money on the docs output by these programs, as that is want my clients want (Word, Excel, Visio). Office 2010 has been released, and I have budgeted for upgrades. Discovering that special upgrade pricing is no longer available is A REAL TURN OFF!
    The motivations to upgrade my current deployment of MS products has just vanished. Sorry M$: you guys blew it. M$ needs to get rid of that greedy snake Steve Ballmer. He is to blame for Vista, and he is also most likely to blame for this stupid decision to stick it to long-term loyal customers. I will be spending my M$ budget line on something else this year!

  24. Skeezix says

    As a long term (as in so long I can’t remember) user of MS products, I am totally bummed by the latest 2010 release. First, the lack of upgrade pricing is totally out to lunch and second, in the fine print, the more important add-ins for Excel don’t work in the 64 bit configuration. Now I wonder, if the darn thing doesn’t provide the improvements touted in 64 bit and the pricing is a cool $500, why in the world should I “upgrade”. For $500 I get something that looks a lot like 2007 with a couple of bells and whistles. I think not!

  25. says

    Thank you Skeezix. How could Microsoft make a new office Suite to run in its new 64 bit operating system (I don’t really understand what that means) that doesn’t work in 64 bit? And, they’re charging full price for it. If Excel “bells and whistles” don’t work in 64 bit, I’ll bet Access “bells and whistles” don’t either.

  26. Timmer says

    Sorry to say, but do the math. If half of us decide not to upgrade, MS wins by scoring the same revenue. They have probably modeled that they will lose 15% of users. That’s a big revenue boost!

  27. Charley_Hybrid says

    Wordperfect?!?! Wait a minute, I thought that died a horrible death already lol. By the way, Microsoft is not responsible for the “mouse,” a man named Douglas Engelbart is, way back in 1964…..BUT without it there would be no use of the GUI (Graphical User Interface……or……WINDOWS) so without your mouse (worse innovation lol) you probably wouldn’t be too worried about which office suite to use. While we’re on the topic, not only did Microsoft NOT invent the mouse, neither Microsoft nor Apple invented the GUI either. We have the Xerox corporation to thank for bringing that to our attention. Apple licensed it then Microsoft pirated it lol.

  28. says

    I am with Bernie. If you want to stick with software on your computer, try out OpenOffice ( and donate what you would think the Microsoft upgrade is worth.

    It can read your Microsoft documents and spreadsheets. You can also save as your OpenOffice documents to the Microsoft format so no one needs to know.

    As far as Outlook, purchase 2010 Outlook alone if you use OpenOffice or try something different.

    I use Thunderbird with the Lightning (calendar) extension. There two other extensions that syncs my calendar (Provider for Google Calendar) and contacts (gContactSync) with Google so I can get it on my iPhone.

    For a task list, the Lightning extension has a task list but I haven’t used it. I use Toodledo in my browser because I want it syncing with my iPhone.

    All free – except the donations I happily give to the developers for a better product than Microsoft.

  29. Ed Gould says

    Well I downloaded and have used open office and basically hated it. It is slow and kludgy and buggy. I wrote a smallish document and no issues per se but I guess I am a died in the wool Word Perfect fan. It spoiled me and it was/is the best WP program I have ever used period.

  30. Ed Gould says

    Subsequent to my posting about Open Office I did try it a few more times. Sorry it is still better than MS Office but Word Perfect runs rings around it without even trying. I have plenty of RAM and plenty of horse power so either its badly written or something.

  31. Matt says

    Open Office is fine if you want to produce documents that look like they’ve been written on a typewriter. I’m assuming that most of you don’t use the actual features in Office like outlining, document structure, etc. because Open Office WILL NOT import/open them properly and your documents are a mess. Open Office is fine if you are also okay with about 5 fonts – all dated typefaces too…

  32. Matt says

    One more thing to consider – the integration in Office 2010 (both Mac and PC) is outstanding. Combine Office 2010 with Microsoft Skydrive, and you have 25Gb (per account – I have 10)(and it’s free) for document and data storage. Office works with and executes documents from the “cloud” as if it’s on your local disk – your documents are totally safe, accessible from anywhere and from multiple computers or device types, and you can set sharing properties, etc. The irony is that the creators of these free office suites (IBM and Sun) are the very same companies that want to sell tons of expensive hardware to small companies whereas Microsoft sells inexpensive software that ELIMINATES the needs for small companies to have expensive hardware servers…

    Checkout Skydrive combined with Office 2010 – it’s the main feature in Office 2010 and the main reason to upgrade…

    P.S. – I’m about to send a document halfway around the world – it’s in a shared folder and my friend can edit from Skydrive without even knowing it (Outlook manages this) and I’ll see the edits pronto…

    Try that in Open Office… NOT!

  33. Alan says

    Agree with all the complaints about there being no upgrade pricing for Office 2010. In these tough times it means I can’t afford to upgrade my business. However, I see an upgrade verson for £79 at Bizcool web site (£30 extra for media). Is that a con or has there been a change of strategy?

  34. Harry says

    Although I’m not a techie, I’ve been slowly migrating to and Linux, due to my recent awareness of robust platform and the flexibility that Open Source brings (e.g. product adaptability). I haven’t seen the limitations mentioned by Matt and Torornto. Matt, your praise of Microsoft skydrive sound as though you aren’t familiar with the incumbent solutions that forced Microsoft into that service/market (e.g. google docs). The inaccuracies of your negative review on OpenOffice, regarding its feature-set, suggests an agenda that isn’t transparent to your readers. OpenOffice runs light and surprisingly has a feature-set similar to MS Office 2007. For Outlook, I suggest a look at Evolution, which I use stand-alone. There is an enterprise edition, which I understand competes with Exchange.

  35. says

    Thanks for the info. I always upgrade and have been using office as long as you have, but now I’m with you. Greed is not a virtue and Microsoft can go suck wind. I’m keeping ’07 until it wears out, then I’ll go to Google.

  36. mocart says

    I think Microsoft developed a strategy in direction of more advanced and expensive Office offering for smaller (and wealthier) customer base. They have calculated with loss of 20 % customers still keeping or increasing the revenue. They can do it now when the product has reached a maturity also thanks to the army of voluntary beta testers. Compared with the car industry, Office is becoming more like a Mercedes or Lamborghini. Fewer home users can afford the price and will look for alternatives. The beta testers with their voluntary work and naivety have contributed to this, instead of using their energy to improve the open source products. I can not imagine to spent a single minute to voluntarily test commercial products. Whoever uses Microsofts product at home illegally should not bother much. Balmer and Co. are careless suckers who will not prevail on longer term.

  37. Kimberly Peacock says

    The value of Ms. Office to a large degree is due to the network effect. Everyone has it and uses it. If MS loses the majority of users it will suffer the same fate that it dealt word perfect or Abi word.

    As Micrososft should know this lesson better than most. I can’t imagine why they are doing what they are doing.

    I remember Bill Gates when he said “others charge you $400 for a program, and I could but I don’t. I provide you with an entire office suite. I do that not because I am stupid or a bad business man!”

    I am paraphrasing to some extent but that is the essence of it.

    Bill pissed the industry off because he wanted to drive cost down and make money on volume. He did!

  38. Stay with 2007 says

    I MUST use Office because I need the advance Word & Excel features that are not available in the free offerings.

    I WANT Office 2010 but with no upgrade pricing it simply does not make financial sense. The only hope of upgrade pricing returning is if we do not buy Office 2010. Therefore I will not buy 2010. By the time Office 2014(?) is ready perhaps the free offerings will have advanced and I will never need to feed the MS monster again.