Office 2013 now free to new buyers of Office 2010 and 2011

Microsoft is tempting Windows and Mac users to buy the current versions of Office by offering a free copy of Office 2013 when it is released.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Buy Office 2010 or 2011 now, and you'll get a free copy of Office 2013 later.

Unveiled on Friday, Microsoft's Office Pre-Launch Offer is good for anyone who buys the current version of Office between October 19, 2012, and April 30, 2013. That includes Windows users who purchase Office 2010 and Mac users who pick up Office 2011.

The steps are relatively simple. After you install and activate Office, just pop an e-mail to Microsoft to receive a reminder. Microsoft will alert you once Office 2013 is available, giving you the ability to download and install it for free.

A variety of Office suites qualify for the freebie, including Office Home and Student 2010, Office Professional 2010, and Office for Mac Home & Student 2011. Individual 2010 applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, also qualify. Buyers can find the full list of eligible titles under the Qualifying Office Products section on the Microsoft Office Pre-Launch Offer Details and Terms page.

Depending on your current version, you can then grab a free copy of Office 365 Home Premium, Office Home and Student 2013, Office Professional 2013, or another variation.

You have until May 31, 2013, to redeem your offer. Microsoft hasn't spilled an official launch date for Office 2013, but the new version is expected to debut early next year.

Microsoft has changed its strategy with Office 2013 by offering standard retail prices and subscriptions.

For example, Office Home and Student 2013 (which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) costs $139.99. Office 365 Home Premium (which adds Outlook, Access, and Publisher to the mix) costs $8.33 per month, or $99.99 per year, for a five-user subscription.

Office 2013 also imposes stricter requirements than its predecessors. The software supports only Windows 7 and Windows 8. XP and Vista users will have to stick with their current Office suite or upgrade their operating system to grab the new Office.

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