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Can Microsoft Really Convince People To Subscribe To Software?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the file-formats-are-what-matter dept.

Businesses 297

curtwoodward writes "For most consumers, monthly subscriptions are still something for magazines and cable TV. With Office 365, Microsoft is about to embark on a huge social experiment to see if they'll also pay that way for basic software. But in doing so, Microsoft has jacked up prices on its old fee structure to make subscriptions seem like a better deal. And that could really leave a bad impression with financially struggling consumers."

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Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421735)

The icon was the Borg Gates, now it is just a word.

Re:Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421841)

Maybe because Slashdot finally realizes that no one else in the world but hopeless Linux fanbois associate Gates with Microsoft for about the last five years.
Could Slashdot finally be ready to grow up? Let's hope so. Steps in the right direction was getting KDawson and CmdrTaco out of here, maybe this is a good next step to moving back to being a tech site and not a garbage dumb for raving lunatics with a chip on their shoulder.

Re:Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (4, Funny)

fuzzytv (2108482) | about 2 years ago | (#41421997)

Yeah, we want Borg Ballmer.

Re:Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422545)

I'd just be fine with him stepping down. The day that happens, their stock price is going to jump.

Re:Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (5, Funny)

daremonai (859175) | about 2 years ago | (#41421849)

The old one got assimilated. Yes, corporate dronedom is even more powerful (or at least more stultifying) than the Borg.

Re:Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (2, Informative)

Haxagon (2454432) | about 2 years ago | (#41421865)

This is the "Businesses" icon, not the Microsoft one.

Re:Why has the slashdot MS symbol changed? (1)

2.7182 (819680) | about 2 years ago | (#41422269)

This one is, but I don't think the fposter is referring to that. For example consider this earlier post. []

Didn't you get the memo? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422383)

The latest (as of last week, apparently) owners are shilling for adbucks wherever they can get them.

This is now an anti-Apple site, not an anti-MS site like it used to be.

You'll need the Wayback Machine to find the anti-MS slashdot.

Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I want. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421737)

Consumers expect free - due to open source movement. That means we are headed to ad supported model which is BAD. I'd rather pay for my tech. I'll sign up.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (-1, Flamebait)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 2 years ago | (#41421837)

Consumers expect free - due to open source movement.

Only dirty open source hippies expect things to be free. The rest of us are perfectly willing to pay for things. But it's hard to believe that people, and especially businesses, will actually fall for this scam.

For example, I still have Office 2003. I bought it, I paid for it, and unless someone from Microsoft shows up at my house and points a gun at my head, I can continue to use it forever. If this subscription scam had been in place back in 2003, it would have cost me nearly $1000 so far -- about 5 times what I actually paid,

10 year old versions of Windows and Office are "good enough" for most people. This is a blatant cash grab, nothing else.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41421897)

You can use it until they 'upgrade' the format. At some point few enough people will be using the older formats that they become effectively unusable.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41422053)

Indeed. We are running up against this with Excel 2003. While with the compatibility pack it can open Excel 2007 and 2010 files, the newer features do not work rendering 2003 little better than a glorified viewer for some of the spreadsheets being sent to some of our staff.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#41422407)

One word: gnumeric

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41422537)

This is why businesses should push very hard to use nothing but open formats. Tying yourself to a single vendor for hardware or software is just asking for trouble. A company can abuse their customers much more if it's difficult to switch products.

And there's more .... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421909)

And considering how terms and conditions change on the fly, to lock myself into a subscription that can be turned off at anytime because I refused to go along with the new terms is just asinine.

As it is, my Office XP license is perfect for me, but already MS is playing games with that. I have a license that I bought in '02 and it worked fine for YEARS, then one day, MS sneaked in the Genuine something or another (that's what I get for being zealous about keeping my system up to date and continuously checking that my selection or unselection for the Genuine whatever STAYED uncbecked) and it still said it was OK. then one day for some reason, the Genuine fucker decided that NOW my license is illegitimate? WTF, MS?! - I get the pop-up and whatnot but I ignore it - fuck'em.

My point? I don't trust them - or ANY software vendor with a subscription. I think some of those people are working there because they were fired for ethics issues with the cable companies.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41421941)

Only dirty open source hippies expect things to be free.

Consumers expect free. Not because of open source, because of the internet. Facebook is free, news is free, Google docs are free, everything is free.

Of course, businesses are willing to pay if it gives them a competitive advantage or improves the bottom line, and Microsoft makes most of their money from b2b sales. So the question is whether Microsoft can get them on a subscription basis.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#41422479)

Keep in mind that to consumers, their operating system is 'free' as well, since they likely bought it from Dell or a big box store, and the cost was tacked onto the price of the machine and then discounted. We used to call this the 'hidden Microsoft tax'. Point is, if nobody comes up to you and says 'You owe $199.95 for the operating system for your computer' when you buy it, they'll think it's 'free'. And back in the day, they even bundled the demo version of Microsoft Works with new computers, as far upstream as XP (I THINK I remember dealing with a brand new XP machine with Works preinstalled from Dell)...

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#41422057)

But it's hard to believe that people, and especially businesses, will actually fall for this scam.

Actually the subscription thing is primarily driven by businesses, not consumers.

If you need to install 5000 computers you could be looking at 5 million dollars in cash outlays just for software licences. And as other people point out, when you need to upgrade you need to upgrade a lot of your IT, that can be 5 million dollars all at once. With a subscription cost it makes your expenses less bursty.

The other thing with businesses is that a subscription plan defers some of your IT responsibility away from in house, that's actually good for small shops. Trying to navigate the various upgrade paths, support options, and trying to stay compliant with volume licencing arrangements costs money.

It also means, when you layoff staff, that you aren't stuck holding investments in software that you don't need anymore.

You're right, most consumers don't care, but that's where you want to find a value added service to tack on that you're charging for. Cloud storage and synchronization sort of stuff usually.

Re:Hope this works. Ad supported is not what I wan (3, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#41422535)

Actually the subscription thing is primarily driven by businesses, not consumers.

You're mostly right ... so far. But if you read the current stories about Microsoft's Office 365 pitch, they are very clearly pitching consumers. There have only been two subscription plans announced for Office 2013 so far: Home & Student and Home & Business. The Business one is designed for companies with 10 employees or less. The Home & Student one includes a license to install the software on five computers, and all can be used by different people as long as they belong to the same household.

Microsoft is expected to announce enterprise subscription plans for Office 2013, but they have said nothing about it so far. It's all pretty much been home users and very small businesses.

Few consumers use open source. (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#41422061)

Probably less than 5% of consumers use open source.

Re:Few consumers use open source. (5, Insightful)

similar_name (1164087) | about 2 years ago | (#41422119)

Probably less than 5% know they use open source.

Re:Few consumers use open source. (4, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#41422129)

On the contrary, I'd argue it's nearly impossible to use the Internet without interacting with open source software.

Short Answer (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421759)


I've said it before. (5, Funny)

click2005 (921437) | about 2 years ago | (#41421761)

If you liked Microsoft Tax you're going to love Microsoft Rent.

Adobe tried already (1)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 2 years ago | (#41421769)

Adobe has recently made their full software suite available for a monthly fee. Compared to paying several thousands for the software, you only pay $70 per month. For me that seems much better. If, on the other hand, I would like make longer commitment to Adobe's software, I could buy the whole suite, too!

Re:Adobe tried already (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421905)

Exactly what I'm doing now. I have a youtube channel where I do tutorials; I get all my video capture with CamStudio and the majority of my graphics together in gimp then every 4 months I subscribe to the adobe cloud service and in that month I finalize the graphics and then stitch everything together.

It's worked out pretty well for me so far this year and I'm saving a bunch of money. I save all the assets I reuse in their cloud so I don't have to worry about backing up/sorting everything on my computer.

As long as MS offers the complete office suite (visio & project too) and the costing is similar to what adobe is charging I'd see no reason not to subscribe. If this is the case you're going to pay about the same amount for the software anyways, but you can turn off/on subscriptions on the fly and you'll get offsite hosting of your documents - which is both a good and bad thing depending on your situation. Of course I'm assuming in this case we're talking about corporate licensing - for my home use LibreOffice is more then good enough.

Re:Adobe tried already (4, Interesting)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#41422071)

As a soho business that deals with PII (personally identifiable information) I'm unable to advantage of any kind of cloud based office suite. The risk should any of that information be released accidently by Cloud Office is financial ruin due to fines, possible prison and being made an example by the Feds for violating while MS gets off with no risk. Sorry Charlie but it aint going to happen.

If the price of Windows and Office climbs to high, I'll have no choice but to move the entire business over to Open Source solutions just to stay in business. As far as document exchange go, I'm already using PDF as my base format. If the customer can't read it, then I wont do anymore business with them as everyone has a PDF reader available (Adobe Reader on Windows and native support on Apple). Solves the problem and I don't have to worry about them being able to edit/change anything w/o my being able to prove it. CYA man, CYA.

Re:Adobe tried already (-1, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41422349)

I'll have no choice but to move the entire business over to Open Source solutions just to stay in business

It sounds like you have much bigger problems with your business than software if a few hundred bucks a year will put you out of business.

Re:Adobe tried already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422525)

Given the current obamanation of fregulatory structure, if you've got a few hundred dollars a year in profit, you're doing quite adequatly. We've run at a loss for about 3 years now, and expect another 2 years. If the novemeber election is as bad as expected, we plan to use the patent troll approach to extort about $10M out of our competitors, kill the 45 jobs we've created here and retire.

Re:Adobe tried already (1)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#41422059)

It depends on what you're doing with it. If you're just needing Photoshop for just one big project and don't plan on using it constantly; then the monthly fee makes sense. If you are using it for your graphics department where they're constantly using it; then it is usually more cost effective to just buy the license and get it done with.

LibreOffice (4, Informative)

JayRott (1524587) | about 2 years ago | (#41421771)

At least for my needs, LibreOffice takes care of everything I have to do. Perhaps if more people were educated about alternatives it would knock some steam out of Microsoft. I understand that enterprise would be a hard sell, but on the consumer level it is doable.

Re:LibreOffice (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41421877)

What Microsoft really appears to fear is the fact that MS Office versions N-1,N-2, and often even N-3 also take care of everything most people need to do.

They aren't simply adding a subscription option, they are nontrivially bumping the price of the perpetual license options...

Re:LibreOffice (2)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 2 years ago | (#41421887)

LibreOffice is fine by itself, but it is not sufficiently compatible with MS products to allow you to share files in a MS dominated environment. I made several attempts over the years to get by with StarOffice, OpenOffice, LibreOffice and just couldn't manage it - I wasted too much of my and my coworkers time dealing with file incompatibility issues.

Software is a strong natural monopoly and MS has a very strong position in the desktop office market. I don't blame them for trying to milk this position for as much money as they can (that is the function of a company).

Re:LibreOffice (3, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41422051)

Yeah, but how often do you need to share files in a mixed environment like that. I think a business that is currently MS Office will either stay with Office, or they will put one of the forks on every machine and internal sharing will just switch to ODF instead of OOXML and the old documents/templates will be converted/recreated and deprecated over time.

You only need to be able to share documents while you're collaboratively working on them. Once finished, they should be baked into PDF or paper anyway.

Re:LibreOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422165)

I's suffered the same but it also happens with MS Office versions, and is prominent with the Windows and the Mac versions.

Re:LibreOffice (2)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41422365)

It is happening in both consumer, small business and enterprise. Many stats have the OO family around 18% marketshare.

Yes (2)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 2 years ago | (#41421787)

Offer me a 12€/year subscription for continued support of Windows XP and I'll sign.

Re:Yes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422005)

Nobody wants to support XP. Switch to Linux or 7 ffs.

Re:Yes (2)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#41422095)

Windows XP reaches EOL in April 2014. Then it becomes about as unsupported as Windows 98 in regard to security updates. I know the corporate environment I work in is migrating to 7 completely when our E6410s are replaced.

Re:Yes (0)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 2 years ago | (#41422125)

Yes... That's the whole point of wanting to have a subscription: keeping it alive because it's good enough and 7 really is just Vista++. I don't like it.

Re:Yes (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41422375)

Find another 50m people who agree with you about being will to pay and talk to Microsoft.

Of course they will (1, Insightful)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about 2 years ago | (#41421799)

Most customers will pay 1200 for a 600 phone as long as they can pay it month to month in stead of all at once. Welcome to modern consumerism.

Re:Of course they will (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41422141)

If all you need is the phone, than 600 is clearly cheaper.
If, on the other hand, you'd also like to make calls with the phone, you'd have to add the separate monthly service subscription.

No. (1)

theswimmingbird (1746180) | about 2 years ago | (#41421801)

I won't even pay for antivirus, because it's all yearly subscription. Give me a one time charge, and we might talk.

Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421809)

...already does most things every non-business, home user needs.
E-mail, docs, social-thingy, photos etc.

For free.

I'm sure the small/mid-sized corporate sector will love Microsoft's subscription offering - but I guess I just don't see the value proposition for private users.

Re:Google (2)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | about 2 years ago | (#41421879)

It is not free. You pay with your privacy.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421995)

If it doesn't leave their wallet or checking account, they don't care.

Open Source (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421839)

MS can only raise their price to a limit. If it is too much, then Linux will finally win the Desktop War (more Linux users than Windows users).

Now THAT is consumer choice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421843)

You can bend over and only have it shoved in a little bit, over and over, or you can take it all at once.

An extra 5 degrees (1)

Mikros (1099869) | about 2 years ago | (#41421851)

It doesn't get much more "all-encompassing" than that, plus an extra 5 degrees for good measure.

Hopefully no (5, Insightful)

jbernardo (1014507) | about 2 years ago | (#41421853)

Going back to the time-sharing days is not something most of us would like. The PC revolution was all about empowering the user, the subscription/cloud model is all about giving control back to big companies.

I hope it won't happen, but after seeing the queues to buy a overrated, expensive toy this Friday and assuming there are that many ready to part with their money in exchange for a locked system, I really don't expect it to fail. There are many that will trade freedom for (assumed) convenience too easily.

Re:Hopefully no (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41422395)

When the PC revolution started getting PCs working was far more expensive and far more difficult than getting the developer SDK working on that expensive locked down toy. Maybe the people in line aren't the only ones you should be looking at regarding trading convenience for freedom.

Possibly (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#41421855)

If Microsoft offers a better deal for subscriptions than a perpetual license, people will take it. My guess is Microsoft will use subscriptions as a shell game to extract more money from consumers, which is not a better deal.

Why would a home user want Office? (1, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41421857)

The last Microsoft Office product I bought was Word 97. I've been using OpenOffice, then LIbreOffice, since about 2002. It's a OK word processor, a mediocre but adequate spreadsheet, and a better draw program than Office. What's in Microsoft Office that a home user would need, let alone pay for monthly?

Re:Why would a home user want Office? (4, Funny)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 2 years ago | (#41422025)

It's a OK word processor, a mediocre but adequate spreadsheet

With a shining endorsement like that, who wouldn't want to use it?

Re:Why would a home user want Office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422089)

The last Microsoft Office product I bought was Word 97. I've been using OpenOffice, then LIbreOffice, since about 2002. It's a OK word processor, a mediocre but adequate spreadsheet, and a better draw program than Office. What's in Microsoft Office that a home user would need, let alone pay for monthly?

Unforunately, with Office nominally the lowest common denominator, little Bobby will need to be 100% sure that his paper will be just right for his teacher (who's probably running Office fur Mac), or that his teacher's PowerPoint slides work exactly as they do on his teacher's computer.
Don't get me wrong, I'm on a Debian box, and have been using 'Libre|Open'Office since at least 2006 regulalry, and haven't yet had a document mangled. Appearently it still happens though, according to personal ancedotes, and I can disprove it, since the documents that get mangled always use "features" I didn't even know existed, let alone used. Unfourunately, as long as Office is in use at institutions, the "home user" will say "I need Office for XYZ, so that I can do at home what I do at 'work|school'. That type of FUD is hard to kill, but this might just help us get there.

New economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422091)

Because, in today's day and age, more and more people are at work 24/7. So, they need to read documents and other shit from work - they also need to work from home.

Now, to head off the "just use Open/Libre Office at home", I'd like to point out that:

1. Your employer may demand that you use Microsoft
2. even if they don't, IF you have a problem of ANY sort, your employer's support staff may blow you off because you're not using an approved application.
3. If your elmployer uses VB macros, the Open/Libre Office may not run them correctly.

I will not argue what is right - just what is.

Re:Why would a home user want Office? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41422173)

Google Apps has an "OK" word processor and a "mediocre but adequate" spreadsheet, and both work well enough for most things I want to do with them.
LibreOffice is well beyond what 90% of business and home users need... except that the outside world demands all "interchangeable" documents to be in MS-only file formats.

Re:Why would a home user want Office? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422441)

You might be surprised. Many people do more with their home computers than just Farmville and porn.

People volunteer for non-profit organizations, join the board of the PTA or their homeowners' assocation, start a small business, help with their kid's little league, work on a master's degree, and more.

Google Apps, Libre Office, and the other suites out there... like you said, are mediocre. Yes, you can write a letter and track your DVD collection. And it's also true that a ton of people barely use 5% of what Word, Excel, and the rest of Office can do.

But then you have this whole subset of "home users" who are professionals using Office at the home for more than just their shopping lists. They need the features (and ease of use, and support, and templates, and clip art, and and and) that Office offers. The features that they use when they're at work -- creating complex budgets, slideshows, long documents -- all get used at the home as well.

And so I don't buy the argument that Office doesn't have anything that a home user needs. Because for a lot of people, home users are doing a lot more than you're giving them credit for.

why subscribe again? (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41421873)

So, my Office suite was purchased back in the latter half of 2000 (maybe first half of 2001, don't exactly remember). It still works fine, and I haven't spent a dime on it since then.

Back in the bad old days, when we were forever reaching for that next release of the OS or that next release of Word in the hopes that it would crash less often and we could actually get some work done, Microsoft built a business model based on expensive incremental releases (a similar game to what Apple is playing now with hardware) and we all went along with it because we needed something that worked.

To a certain extent, Microsoft is now a prisoner of their own success. For the great majority of users, Office stopped progressing over a decade ago, and Windows stopped progressing in 2002 (xp sp1). There is no longer any need to go out and buy every new version. Hasn't been for awhile.

The problem is, Microsoft relies on that new release income to function, and I'm sure they're worried. Now comes a new paradigm -- software rental -- that guarantees it. I'm sure that seemed like a great idea, and I'm sure the person who came up with the idea of jacking up the prices of their non-subscription products got a big ol' raise.

The thing is, there are fewer and fewer reasons to stick with Microsoft products, and more and more ways to migrate off them while maintaining backwards compatibility. If you stick with the mindset that "we are microsoft, and people will buy from us for that reason only", the strategy makes sense. But I wonder if the premise is true anymore. Personally, if and when I can't use my old crufty copy of Office anymore, I will actively seek one of the free solutions before allowing myself to be locked into a Microsoft solution. It's just self-preservation.

Re:why subscribe again? (0)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 2 years ago | (#41421917)

The problem is there are plenty of featuers Windows is missing (a unix like command line? better multihead support? NFS?, etc.) but it all conflicts with the MS marketing view, and may weaken the stranglehold. All they have left is to keep us hooked and charge us by hte hour to patch substandard software.

Re:why subscribe again? (4, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41422105)

Interesting idea - that the document applications are basically mature, and not much more is needed/desired on the part of users.

In a world like that, you would expect development of new office suits to slow, and the department sizes to shrink. Ongoing development for the trickle of new features and bugs that need to be corrected, but on a much smaller scale than originally. Same as with operating systems.

I think maybe it is unreasonable to assume that a company in an expanding market would forever grow or even never contract. Surely as computers become ubiquitous, the purchases will only be for replacements, which one would expect would be lower than the peak where new units and replacements were being purchased.

Re:why subscribe again? (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about 2 years ago | (#41422113)

You hit the nail on the head. Office reached good-enough stability, and good-enough feature set, several years ago. They have more recently gotten into the "change for the sake of change" phase, and have been redoing GUI, etc, just to have something to promote with the product. Now imagine if customers like you and I (I'm using Office 2003 on my Windows 7 laptop - as my primary work machine has died and been replaced several times over the years, I've just moved my Office license along with me) didn't have the opportunity to have "bought" and owned Office a decade ago. Instead we had to pay a never-ending recurring fee. I think it's exactly users like us that Microsoft no longer makes money off of, and going with a subscription model is the only way they can try and prevent this from happening in the future.

Granted, they aren't going to get many of us in on this new scheme - we already demand a "fair" method of owning software licenses that have value in the long term future, and most of us will simply switch to other alternatives. However there is a new generation of users coming of age, who are more "plugged in" and used to things being connected to the "cloud", or totally web based, or software at least checking online for "updates" and "synchronizing" when it starts up. There are a large number of iOS / Android games which, even though they SHOULD be able to run happily 100% offline, will only function when they have network connectivity and the user is signed in. What this is doing is conditioning a new generation of software consumers to a new level of control, connectivity and oppressive DRM.

Re:why subscribe again? (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | about 2 years ago | (#41422293)

I have to agree with you on the progression in Office - the feature set has been there since probably Office 97 for most of the apps, but 2003 for Outlook. While Office 2007 is a huge progression in UI (argument over backwards vs. forwards aside) it does not add much of anything functionally for me, with the exception perhaps being the mouse over menu popup and the context sensitive toolbars, which are significant as far as usability goes but don't necessarily add additional function.

However, I think you've got your head in the sand if you don't think Windows has progressed since XP SP1. The stability, security, and usability of the Windows platform especially with Windows 7 is far and away better than Windows XP, and with the shift to mobile in Windows 8, new opportunities abound for real business world application development that can translate to a mobile platform.

I don't think the rental model is going to work very well for Microsoft until the prices line up better with real world usage. Buyers are too cost concious these days to go for a pricing model that costs twice as much over the typical 3 years between office releases.

Re:why subscribe again? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41422435)

You should take a look at the last decade of server support for Office. Office as a product line is way, way ahead of where it was 10 years ago. You don't use those features though which means you probably should be dropping down from a premium office suite.

If you aren't a demanding user and thus aren't willing to pay much... why should Microsoft care if they lose you?

Cracks and Hacks will abound, and M$ will loose $! (3, Insightful)

X!0mbarg (470366) | about 2 years ago | (#41421911)

If such a scheme is introduced, it will cause/fuel a renewed proliferation of Crack and Hacks that will really cost M$ serious money in the long run.

Since older versions still abound, and I am quite confident that there are more than a few of us that will simply hold on to those versions until it is simply impossible to do so any more. By then, there will be a Free alternative, and M$ may have learned its lesson.

Re:Cracks and Hacks will abound, and M$ will loose (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422205)

I wish I could rate your post "+1 quaint"

Re:Cracks and Hacks will abound, and M$ will loose (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41422443)

Microsoft owns the OS. They can handle hacked versions of Office rather easily.

Re:Cracks and Hacks will abound, and M$ will loose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422533)

Like they can handle the hacked (registration free) versions of Win7 that you can download everywhere?

Sure (2, Insightful)

kenholm3 (1400969) | about 2 years ago | (#41421925)

People subscribe to stuff (software) all the time. How many folks pay for WoW? How many businesses pay "annual maintenance" which akin to a subscription.

As for folks liking FOSS, it's still there. If FOSS was that good*, MS would not sell as much as they do.

*I'm an old *nix guy. I ~do~ dig FOSS, when it's appropriate. Currently, MS Office is the defacto standard in the business world.

I know it's cool to gripe about MS and Bill Gates. I prefer to waste my time on other things. And, I've ~never~ been accused of being cool.

Office is unnecessary for home use (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421961)

Google Docs is free, far more convenient, I don't have to worry about backups, and has all the power I need.

As a home user, Microsoft is playing a greatly shrinking role in my computing experience. The only foothold they have in my house at all is the XBox in my living room.

Some People, Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421965)

You can fool some of the people all of the time,
and all of the people some of the time,
but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

If Office365 is anything like 2007 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41421987)

then good effing riddance. Such an obnoxious series of mistakes. Microsoft is no longer wasting my time.

Removes their development incentive (4, Interesting)

Causemos (165477) | about 2 years ago | (#41422013)

If they are already getting monthly/yearly fees from customers, what's the incentive to produce good products? Now we get to vote by not buying that version and continuing to use an old one. With this new model they'll get money either way.

Their hard core users will probably pay, but many people are occasional users. Free and/or cheaper products will make out big on this. Word processing and spreadsheets aren't exactly cutting edge applications anymore.

Re:Removes their development incentive (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41422455)

Sure they are. There are wonderful BI features in spreadsheets today that didn't exist 10 years ago. There are wonderful multimedia and collaboration features in word processing that didn't exist 10 years ago. You just don't use those features. Which means you shouldn't be running a premium suite.

Convince? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422015)

I thought the point of having a monopoly was that you didn't have to convince your customers about anything.

Business and Government feel they have no choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422023)

I work for the DoD. I think there is about 0% chance of the DoD every switching away from Microsoft for the desktop. Where I work, it's all MS for sql-servers, exchange servers, internet servers, and we will probably go with sharepoint.

Other companies were I have worked are the same. Very few businesses take anything non-Microsoft seriously.

Re:Business and Government feel they have no choic (1)

moj0joj0 (1119977) | about 2 years ago | (#41422313)

Very few businesses take anything non-Microsoft seriously.

That is the issue, isn't it? In my environment, all the users have been migrated to linux distros and libre office. Then again, my environment is just that, mine. Any issues of compatibility are minor and usually not worth the hassle of worrying about. IE is a great example, requiring that I do special coding for it, so I've stopped using it. I tell my users that they are using a browser that isn't compliant to the standards and that they should either change to one that is or live with the issue.

This just doesn't work for large companies or institutions that have become dependent upon Microsoft products, users in Windows with stock IE installations want to buy thier products or browse the company's website which basically perpetuates the issue.

I have resolved the problem by removing IE as a supported browser, however, it just isn't feasible for IBM, Dell or even Newegg to do the same. To me, requiring HTML5 compliance has lowered my costs and improved my users' experience (once they experienced the better environment).

Renting vs Buying - easier to switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422027)

I wonder if they are making a grave long-term error

In real estate, one of the pros of renting (vs buying) is that it is much easier to switch.

If this applies to software, wouldn't switching to a rent model make it easier for users to switch to a competitor?

Re:Renting vs Buying - easier to switch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422509)

There's still lockin in the document formats.

What a mess (1)

cyberzephyr (705742) | about 2 years ago | (#41422063)

As a long term MS user. I find this as a mistake. I don't like cloud computing BTW and i'll keep my stuff here at home not on someones server. Why should i pay someone to keep my files when i can do just as carefully here?

FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422267)

Why should i pay someone to keep my files when i can do just as carefully here?


Why (other than sloth) would i pay some anonymous entity (who couldn't give a damn about anything but short-term financial gain) to keep my files when i can do it infinitely better and infinitely more securely here by myself?

Re:What a mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422459)

No one said you have to. Office 365 is an option. You can buy a license for Office that will last you forever. Or you can use the web for free. Or you can buy a yearly license. You get a choice. You get three choices. Hell, count Office Mobile and you get four choices.

Since when did choices become a bad thing?

Oh, Microsoft. Right.

Maybe (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#41422079)

I don't think most consumers will go for it out of the box, but I bet windows 8 pc's will come with some free limited time subscription. Then people will be tempted to continue paying some monthly fee. Same thing with pay per month or micro transaction video games.

Corporations will probably like it because many seem to prefer leasing or otherwise renting over buying.

Software Subscriptions and Circuit City Divx (4, Interesting)

djl4570 (801529) | about 2 years ago | (#41422111)

Back in 1998 one of my colleagues expressed a favorable attitude towards the pay per view technology being marketed by Circuit City as Divx. I gasped and suggested an analogy of having to pay Microsoft a dime every time you used MS word or even worse, every time you saved a document. While not the same as subscriptions the concept is similar.
Office is deeply entrenched in the business world so this move could be a financial bonanza for Microsoft until the business world rebelled. Lotus Notes (Which IMNSHO sucks big green donkey dicks.) could replace Outlook and the Lotus suite of apps based on Open Office could replace the balance of Office. Courageous management would dump commercial software and go with Open Office or Libre Office.
Big challenges are user training and finding a replacement with the same kind of email and calendar integration that Outlook offers. I work for a large tech company. Being able to schedule meetings and conference calls, and getting reminders of same makes the work day flow smoothly. At least until your exchange server becomes unreachable.
We need a Darth Balmer icon for Slashdot.

Can you say Adobe? (2)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 2 years ago | (#41422121)

Adobe started the "rent" thing a couple years ago. I guess it works IF you need to upgrade all the time. But if you feel you can skip an upgrade you're SOL.

Sure, as long as it's .... (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 2 years ago | (#41422171)

Adobe, or open-source stuff....

Nothing new for some of us (5, Insightful)

twnth (575721) | about 2 years ago | (#41422211)

I have a personal technet subscription, which is effectively renting MS products (annual fee, access to latest software, and other goodies)
Work has enterprise licencing, which is not much different.

so... some of us have been renting MS software for years.

LibreOffice (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#41422255)

Comes free with your Internet access. And makes PDFs out of the box if you are concerned how it looks on the other side.

Finacially Struggling customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422275)

Piss on Microsoft. I will just pirate it and they can kiss my ass for being greedy.

the only thing microsoft convinced me to do is (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 2 years ago | (#41422277)

to fdisk ms_windows off my PC and install Linux

I'll be hated, but yes... (1)

Balthisar (649688) | about 2 years ago | (#41422337)

...unless I keep getting the $10 versions from work home use program (HUP). The problem with HUP is I can select (currently) either Office 2010 or Office 2011, but not both (just in case it's not obvious, the former is Windows, and the latter is Mac OS). And yes, I want and need both.

My company uses Windows workstations, but I prefer Mac OS at home. Most of the time, Office:Mac is just fine. Except, you know, the glaring omissions of Access and OneNote, which cause me to have to boot up Parallels (less of a chore since adding the Thunderbolt SSD).

As it is, I know I'm breaking the MS license -- I've got Office 2011 installed on a laptop and my desktop. I'd prefer to have it universally installed on all machines so I can maintain a single, master image, but I'm not too egregious with the license abuse.

If I can have multiple installs of both Windows and Mac versions for the low price of $100 per year, yeah, I'm all for it. The only thing cheaper for my circumstances would be going back to the old days of piracy.

Great, more timebombs (3, Interesting)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about 2 years ago | (#41422343)

If you do signup for an MS Office subscription, make sure you uninstall the software before the subscription expires. Some of the most badly-borked systems I have encountered in the past three years have had a pre-release version of Office installed that went beyond its timebomb date. I expect similar badness to occur with systems where an Office subscription has expired.

They convinced people to use their software (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#41422361)

Considering what a pile of substandard trash things like Office are, that they still have not caught up with open standards and are lagging behind badly on the OS front, I would think that people are morons and MS marketing realizes that and knows how to play them well.

Therefore I predict this will be a huge commercial success.

I got Office 365 licences "for free" (1)

gshegosh (1587463) | about 2 years ago | (#41422397)

With my broadband internet connection. I pay the same price for 150/10Mbps pipe that I used to pay for 60/6Mbps one, so I could say that those licences are really free. I guess that's one way they can convince people to use them. I have no choice to give those licenses back and get a discount. I don't think Microsoft has nothing out of it.

I have a technet subscription (2)

atarione (601740) | about 2 years ago | (#41422409)

Despite having technet, I still use LibreOffice more than Office ... I have both installed but i kinda like the interface of LibreOffice more.

If I have friends / family that ask about this .... well technically whenever i have had friends /family complain about buying office i have just told them to try OpenOffice before then LibreOffice now. Most of them tried open/Libre office and decided it was pretty good ...and really good for free and just used that.

PDF Printer (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#41422423)

When I get a Word file from someone for review, I feed it to an online MS Word PDF Printer, then scribble all over the PDF file with Xournal and send the resultant PDF back to the originator.

Only makes sense for business, not home. (1)

guidryp (702488) | about 2 years ago | (#41422451)

If you can write off the subscription cost in your business, then you can have some justification.

But for a home users? The vast majority would likely be happy with the office version they bought with their computer, and using on their next computer if they could. They need to upgrade just about never.

Getting roped into annual fees makes absolutely no sense in this case.

*Social* experiment? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41422483)

Not really a social experiment, is it? More a sort of, well, business one.

MOLP (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41422507)

They have been on this sort of model for a long time with large customers.

Nothing really new.

But i do find it humorous as in the old days they were fighting against IBM's similar model with the big iron, and now we are coming full circle.

Guess it wasn't so bad after all :)

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