Microsoft, the tech giant behind Windows, Xbox and Office, is trying something radically different with it’s new Office branding. A new strategy that benefits few and hurts many.
Welcome to Microsoft Office 365…or Microsoft Office 2013….or whatever the new name is. Think back to the Office applications you know and love, and then charge your credit card monthly to use them. This is the future.
The new strategy involves charging users a reoccurring fee for Office use and access. Users are expected to pay $100 USD per year (or $10 USD per month) to access OFFICE 365, which apparently is just normal Office 2013 standalone applications, but with more licenses (5 per household) and cloud support….and skype support (60 minutes per month free)….and skydrive storage. You simply download the applications and get access to the traditional office environment as long as you pay your bill.
Office is really pushing people to buy this service, but they kept a traditional “One time fee” version available too. They aren’t misleading people with this. The standard office software is available on the same place on their website with all the comparisons between versions and everything else. They are simply promoting the more costly service (in the long run), instead of the standalone service.
There are obvious benefits to the 365 plan though. The cloud support is excellent apparently, and your documents are synced in real time to skydrive, so you’re never in danger of losing that term paper or midterm report when your computer crashes. In addition, skype support is great and the collaboration features are second to none. I’m very impressed with how Microsoft has managed to integrate everything so cohesively in this new service. There are also rumors that mobile versions are being made so theoretically you could start an essay on the Windows 8 computer, and then continue it on the bus from your Android phone, and finish it up from your iPad at a coffee shop. There are amazing potentials for cross platform synchronized cloud support.
While the service may be impressive, the pricing is a huge problem that will dissuade many from purchasing. Not everyone needs synchronized cloud support or web collaboration features. Some families just need a couple copies of office to write letters and keep track of finances. The price is either $100 a year, $10 a month, or $140 x number of family members. With free alternatives like OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and Google Docs available, they are basically pushing consumers to competing products.
It should be remembered that Office makes most of it’s money from businesses, but you can’t forget the lowly consumer. They make suggestions to their friends, who tell their friends. Suddenly one of the friends tells his multi million dollar company to switch to LibreOffice for their computing needs (which is free!). Then who gets screwed?
All pricing and purchasing options are available on the Office Website.
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