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Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby SlyckTom » Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:02 pm

Considering all the garbage software that accompanies a new PC these days, Microsoft Office tops the list. Not because Office is a bad application suite; quite the contrary, as the latest iteration is a magnificent feat of software engineering. However, the version installed on new PCs is often trialware, doomed to expire in a mere 30 days. Long enough to give a taste of its greatness, yet not long enough to make any real progress in productivity.

To conquer the full appreciation of the Office Suite, say Office Professional 2007, the end user can typically expect to pay anywhere from about $150 to over $500 depending on the source and the needs of the consumer. And that's just for one license on one machine. If you're a good boy or girl, you'll listen to Bill Gates - sorry - Steve Ballmer and only install the suite on one machine. While the casual user doesn't have to worry about BSA (Business Software Alliance) inspections, businesses do. The Office licensing agreement often times compels business owners to purchase multiple copies to avoid trouble - and that price can add up real fast.

Under the new leadership of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft is teaming up with CircuitCity in a nonexclusive agreement where a new version of their productivity suite, Equipt, will be sold. The new version of Office will also include antivirus/security software - a hot selling software item. For $69.99, the customer receives a lot of "bells and whistles" software (Live Mail, Messenger and PhotoGallery), the antivirus/security software, and the big ticket items: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. But that's not $69.99 and you're done. That's $69.99 a year. If you decide you just love Equipt, you'll have to pony up another $69.99 next year.

For $69.99 a year, there's the question of what possible benefit the subscription service may have. In 366 days, the customer would have paid $140.00 for a service that he or she could have bought outright on NewEgg.com. The only possible benefits, providing the end user is honest or otherwise compelled to be if they’re a business, is the licensing agreement that permits installation on 3 machines instead of 1. The antivirus software may also be an added incentive for consumers to purchase the subscription, rather than rely on older/pirated/friend's versions.

Seems like a lot of hassle, doesn’t it? Well it really doesn’t have to be. Although the Microsoft Office Suite is nothing less than extraordinary, competition is once again rearing its head. Not since the days of Word Perfect or Lotus 1,2,3 have viable alternatives challenged its domination. With the arrival of cheap computers comes cheap software. The Asus EEE PC, priced less than $400, and with some models running less than $300, has Open Office preinstalled. Open Office doesn’t have nearly the same level of functionality and features as Office, however, it’s free and there are no licensing restrictions. Additionally, it has the three core productivity applications that any student, businessman or slacker needs: Write (similar to Word), Calc (similar to Excel) and Impress (similar to PowerPoint).

Google, Microsoft’s online nemesis, has upped the ante with its free web based office productivity software. Although a bit lacking and not quite as advanced as Open Office or MS Office, Google Documents is more than adequate for a majority of productivity needs. Like Open Office, Google Documents is compatible with most existing Microsoft generated work, except for files saved in the Office 2007 (*.docx) format. Google Documents supports three core applications – word processing (Word), spreadsheets (Excel), and presentations (PowerPoint).

Microsoft seems to realize that consumers need more choices than what’s currently provided by Office. The move isn’t a folly however - people gobble up antivirus subscriptions like hotcakes. And for $69.99 a year, the price isn’t outside the realm of reason for those already needing antivirus software and productivity software. While Microsoft is providing additional options, the best option for consumers may be to investigate alternatives.



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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby voodoohippie » Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:02 pm

Well its not a bad idea for the visually impaired user who relies on JAWS accessible software. If you can use Zoomtext, you may be able to use Open Office or if you need a simple FREE word processor that can open those Microsoft .doc files you can Download a FREEWARE app called Abiword. Abiword doesn't take up huge amounts of RAM and gets the job done plus its an pen source project, this means that programmers can all get together and make this app fly (just like the old TI 99/4A days where you got a lot of productive programs for FREE and open source).

Any Good pirate should always check for a FREEWARE alternative to the program they want to Pirate and then just get the FREEWARE open source version. Its simpler and to boot you don't have to worry about trying to find a crack for the damn thing.
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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby Ratt » Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:14 pm

There is very little that Open Office can't do these days. Version 2.4.1 is also the fastest iteration I've ever used. I don't know if it qualifies as freeware, but it's certainly open source and therefore free of charge.
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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby SchmuckofNI » Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:21 pm

It makes you wonder how many people will actually go for this? I mean, with the rising costs of fuel and consumer goods can businesses and consumers a like afford to pay $70 dollars a year for software that has open sourced and free counterparts?
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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby david89 » Wed Jul 02, 2008 5:07 pm

this will be very funny if it gets more people want pirate there software that what they get i bet they will do this model with there os next everyone trying going up on there prices can't wait see huge backfire. :headbang:
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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby Fartingbob » Wed Jul 02, 2008 5:50 pm

So what do you get for the subscription after the first year? Seems like bugger all. You end up paying for the right to continue using software you purchased legally, and MS gets 100% profit from it.
Seems like a way to trap businesses into buying it and then having to cough up each year. It might be cheaper if they only intedn to keep it for a year, but what business upgrades software every year? By the time most would upgrade they've probably paid $300 per licence.
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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby qm2003 » Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:00 am

The only MS Office version i actually *bought*,
was a student's license for Office 95 back in university when Win95 came out.
(Yeah, i was so naive back then. :oops: )

Crashed all the time when writing more than just a handful of pages with a few embedded pictures and formulas as i remember :lol:

It was grossly overpriced back then and i realize nothing has changed ... :mrgreen:
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Re: Microsoft Unveils Subscription Based Office

Postby Ratt » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:19 am

david89 wrote:this will be very funny if it gets more people want pirate there software that what they get i bet they will do this model with there os next everyone trying going up on there prices can't wait see huge backfire. :headbang:


Even with the backfire, for once Microsoft has made a realistic choice. There is no doubt that its share of the office market will shrink considerably in the coming years regardless of what Microsoft does, as there are just too many viable alternatives cropping up. By adopting subscriptions, they guarantee themselves a steady cash flow from a sizeable minority of the future market (from the same people who never stop paying for Norton subscriptions, as noted earlier). Subscriptions will certainly accelerate the decline of their market share, but in the end it will be more profitable for them than trying to remain the universal standard (which is a losing battle).

Fartingbob wrote:Seems like a way to trap businesses into buying it and then having to cough up each year. It might be cheaper if they only intedn to keep it for a year, but what business upgrades software every year? By the time most would upgrade they've probably paid $300 per licence.


True, from their POV, it's just the usual gangster-like practices that Microsoft employs.
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