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Microsoft "Albany" Offers Office and Security as Subscription

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the renting-your-software dept.

281

News.com is reporting that Microsoft has confirmed a subscription service is in the works for the next consumer version of their Office Suite. "Code-named Albany, the product has a single installer that puts Office Home and Student, OneCare, as well as a host of Windows Live services, onto a user's PC. As long as users keep paying for the subscription, they are entitled to the latest versions of the products. Once they stop paying, they lose the right to use any version."

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Something of a catch... (4, Interesting)

26199 (577806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121840)

Once they stop paying, they lose the right to use any version.

So, an office suite linked to a security product and you lose both if you stop paying ... does this sound at all unpalatable to anyone else?

(Apparently; currently the survey on the page says 41% prefer the traditional way of buying Office, 38.5% would rather not buy it at all, and 20.5% think it sounds better).

I suppose the deciding factor is the price -- value for money. And as we know Microsoft has never failed to deliver on that one...

Re:Something of a catch... (4, Insightful)

thewils (463314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121860)

Don't worry, it'll be cracked in the first day or so.

Also illegal, at least in Canada (4, Informative)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121878)

Up here, it's illegal to make it impossible for a person to access their own data. Therefore, while they are allowed to prevent you from making new documents, spreadsheets, etc., they cannot disable the "read-only" features of the software.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (5, Funny)

26199 (577806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121896)

But as long as you save in OOXML you can always read your data ... it's an ISO standard!

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (5, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122016)

Well you (people who paid for Office) gave the cash which helped to fund OOXML and the possible destruction of ISO

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (5, Informative)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121996)

Up here, it's illegal to make it impossible for a person to access their own data.

I highly doubt this has any applicability to a subscription version of Office. When the subscription runs out, it doesn't suddenly encrypt all of your files. You are still free to bring those files to any of millions of capable machines, any print shop in the world, or use the long existing free "Viewer" versions.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (1)

cheesethegreat (132893) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122042)

I'd like to know exactly what the law is on this. Consider the following scenario:

I rent an English-Albanian dictionary and then translate a document from English to Albanian.

The rental expires on the dictionary, and I return it.

I can now not access my data despite being in possession of the file.

Is the owner of the dictionary under a legal obligation to allow me to use it to recover my data? Seems doubtful.

In the same way, if you're renting this software from Microsoft, and then the rental expires in accordance with your contract, I find it hard to imagine that they would be under a duty to enable you to use their product to access your files.

But I could be wrong; my knowledge of Canadian law is limited to its overlap with the UK. Please point me in the direction of legislation/case law if this isn't a correct analysis for Canada.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (4, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122132)

Where the frack do you rent a dictionary? Wouldn't borrowing one at the library be easier?

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122304)

A library book is a no-fee rental.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (2, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122142)

I'd hope that law is really clear about what "access" to the data is. Because Microsoft ships free "viewers" that allow you to read the data, at which point you could copy and paste it to something else. Not sure if that meets the legal terms in that law, but it sure might. I'd prefer that "access" meant you could read and write, but since copy/paste/write would "work" it may be all that is required.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (1)

Ifni (545998) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122152)

How does this work for other subscription services like World of Warcraft? Technically, your character, etc, is your data, though by the EULA Blizzard claims that all data is theirs, so perhaps that's how they get around it, and Microsoft could just do the same.

Also, it isn't impossible to access your data - you can renew your subscription or even use any of a number of free solutions (OpenOffice) to get at it once your subscription lapses. And who knows, they may very well leave read only enabled.

In short, though I think that the product will suck (unless it pencils out to be roughly the same as buying it over a 2-5 year subscription, and even then it won't be for everybody), I don't think there are any laws that will make it stillborn.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122236)

QFT (4, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122242)

you can renew your subscription or even use any of a number of free solutions (OpenOffice)

This bears repeating.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122332)

How does this work for other subscription services like World of Warcraft? Technically, your character, etc, is your data, though by the EULA Blizzard claims that all data is theirs, so perhaps that's how they get around it,


Correct, that is how they get around it.

and Microsoft could just do the same.


Um, no. Technically, Microsoft could try this gambit; I'm not sure whether, legally, it would work or not. But practically, it'd be a death sentence on Office. Rights to Eleroth the Night Elf is one thing. Rights to your personal correspondence, to the data that your business needs to run, to your personal data, that's another. If Microsoft announced that they owned all the data created by subscription Office, nobody would buy it. Ever.

Re:Also illegal, at least in Canada (1)

genericpoweruser (1223032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122420)

But what if it wasn't explicitly sold? Isn't that what Google Docs does?

Re:Something of a catch... (1)

rdradar (1110795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121952)

I suppose the deciding factor is the price -- value for money. And as we know Microsoft has never failed to deliver on that one...

So you arent using Windows right? Its still the os you get most out of, specially if you're playing games. And dont get me wrong, I have linux servers aswell, but they dont compare to desktop usage or gaming. Theres also lots of products and games I've been happy that Microsoft has released and more than gave me entertainment for the money.

And I dont think the idea about subscription model to program is that, as long as you pay small percent of the whole price. And if you happen to be disappointed with the full version after buying it, it wont cost you that much. Just end the subscription.

Re:Something of a catch... (2, Insightful)

26199 (577806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122104)

There is a certain amount of historical evidence [slashdot.org] on the "value for money" issue :)

Re:Something of a catch... (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122194)

You save all your files in what ever form and end your subscription. Now you can't open your files and you don't have an office suite.

renting software always fails. It has no purpose and MSFT is going to charge some obscene amount so that a year of renting you can buy a full version.

Personally for me it doesn't matter. My documents are in ODF, and I can use any numerous applications to open the data, from Open Office, to abi word, to google docs. I can get 100% portable versions of those to stick on a thumb drive, and OS agnostic.

It doesn't matter where I am I can get MY data. Can you do the same with MSFT rentals?

Re:Something of a catch... (3, Informative)

gunnk (463227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122300)

"if you're playing games" -- point conceded

Otherwise, I honestly find that Ubuntu is a much better value. Besides being free it comes with a huge range of applications (free) that I use. In fact, I find it has a lot more features than Windows.

I'm not completely anti-Microsoft and do think Windows is the right decision for some people -- and gamers go without saying. However, my experience is much the opposite of yours. My Ubuntu desktop is much more capable and pleasant than Vista or XP.

Re:Something of a catch... (4, Insightful)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122070)

I must admit I appreciate Microsoft making it even easier for me to sell the higher-ups on the advantages of using OpenOffice.

Re:Something of a catch... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122212)

Hey this sounds great. You need the program to write a paper you just rent it for a while. The Security thing is a little bit more annoying but all virus checkers seem to be going for this system.
If Microsoft put in anti-virus software for free then people would be having a fit cow over unfair practices.

Of course you could just get OpenOffice and Linux or you could pick up a Mac.

But after seeing just how wonderful Vista really is why would anybody play with a toy like Linux or OS/X.

This is a big deal (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121854)

How will Linux compete with such a move?

by cutting prices! (4, Funny)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121882)

We'll charge nothing at all for linux and open office, and you're entitled to all upgrades for free.

Re:by cutting prices! (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121932)

The first one is always free..

Re:by cutting prices! (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122392)

And so are all the others, too.

Re:by cutting prices! (3, Insightful)

johannesg (664142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122374)

You got it all wrong. You do it by charging a HIGHER price for a comparable Linux / OpenOffice based package.

Pricing it higher will create the impression that this is a more worthwhile package (and vice versa: a lower-priced package will be less worthwhile). And it creates income that can be used to further build up the open source industry.

Re:by cutting prices! (4, Funny)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122426)

NEW! Ubuntu Linux 8.04, $999.99 with $999.99 INSTANT REBATE!

Uh, No It's Not... (2, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122058)

I think Linux will compete by snagging more disgruntled ex-Microsoft users.

Microsoft has really screwed up and doesn't seem to know where to go or what to do now that Vista crashed and burned. It will be hard for them to overcome the bad rap they earned on that one.

And Linux being free means that anyone that wants to try it out just needs to download it or copy CDs from someone else. They can try it whenever they want and if they like it, they keep right on using it.

Microsoft's days are numbered. Probably with big numbers right now, but numbered nonetheless.

Vaporware Ahoy! (1)

westbake (1275576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121864)

It does not exist yet and you lose it if you quit paying your subscription. Though you never really did own Windows or the computer running it, this takes vaporware to the next level.

This just in (1)

WiglyWorm (1139035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121876)

Microsoft debuts baloon made of lead!

Re:This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23121982)

Microsoft debuts baloon made of lead!
First they steal from apple, now mythBusters. When will it end?

Re:This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122032)

Dose it look like this one? [youtube.com]

It Would be Microsoft Doing This (4, Insightful)

imamac (1083405) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121898)

This is Microsoft's way of demonstrating once and for all that you don't "own" the software you purchase. I hope this doesn't catch on and become the primary distribution model. If we don't own the software we purchase then the manufacturer does not have to guarantee any proper functionality.

Re:It Would be Microsoft Doing This (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121978)

If we don't own the software we purchase then the manufacturer does not have to guarantee any proper functionality.
Have you read the EULA? If it wasn't for consumer protection laws (and basic fraud) you'd have no guarantee that it has any functionality at all, nor is Microsoft liable in case the software eats your data and bricks your machine.

I hope it DOES catch on - for a while... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121994)

I hope this doesn't catch on and become the primary distribution model.

I hope it DOES catch on - for a while.

It will give consumers a financial incentive to switch to FOSS - every time a bill comes due. B-)

Re:It Would be Microsoft Doing This (2, Insightful)

alexhs (877055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122100)

On the contrary, I hope it becomes the primary MS distribution model.

People currently don't perceive the cost of MS software as it is included in the cost of the computer.

If this becomes the primary distribution model, cheaper (and free) alternatives will be perceived all the more interesting.

Isn't the one-time purchase cost what made MS popular in the first place (against mainframe subscription model) ?

Fantastic (2, Insightful)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121900)

Let me see, I need to type my college papers, christmas letters, and an occasional sales poster. Let's see the benefits of the magnificent MS Office Live RX over the OpenOffice, or Symphony...
Stupidass Microsoft... (And stupidass people paying for that crap...)

Maximum PayTard (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122168)

They hope to make people feel less stupid by micropayment. See, it's only a little here and a little there like an AOL subscription but it's your text editor and ... security. Tiny payments for tiny use. Microtards offer something that's just a little paytarded. Or you could look at it like a Casino does. The smaller the bet the more money the customer will lose in any given time. That would make this plan a maximized, continuous service demanded only by the most paytarded.

Re:Maximum PayTard (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122312)

Hey man, did you get a permaban, or is someone actively downmodding you? And why?

If it's like Albany (4, Funny)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121912)

the state capital of NY, it'll cost a lot of money, spend years trying to accomplish anything, and work only part of the year.

Re:If it's like Albany (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122268)

oh,oh, you forgot always over budget, never delivered on time, and makes you wonder where your money actually goes.

Re:If it's like Albany (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122310)

But does it come with hookers [thesmokinggun.com] ?

Never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23121918)

I will never use a subscription based product that creates and manages data. Essentially, M$ will be holding your data hostage. Don't pay and you can't access your documents.

That's bullshit.

Hello? ISO? You listening? (3, Interesting)

Marc Desrochers (606563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121948)

Perfectly timed, just after OOXML is approved, wouldn't you say?

I wonder: (0, Offtopic)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121962)

Who sells more songs, iTunes or Napster?

Albany branch? (1)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121968)

I heard the MS Albany branch is worse than Scranton!

Not Unreasonable (5, Insightful)

cheesethegreat (132893) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121974)

Actually, let's just think about this for a second.

You currently pay $300 for the standard Microsoft Office 2007.

If all they're doing is spreading out the payment over 3-4 years, with a small premium thrown in, that's not such a bad deal. I'd happily pay a $25-50 premium on software like Office in order to receive constant updates. So if what they want is $115 annually instead of 300 at once, that's fine by me. These products don't usually have more than a 3-4 year life-cycle anyway, and this way instead of being stuck with a single version, you get something which improves over time.

Obviously, the question of how they implement it, what they charge, and how good the "free upgrades" really are will determine uptake of this product. But if you take off your microsoft-bashing hat for a second, this isn't as stupid as it looks.

Re:Not Unreasonable (3, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121992)

You currently pay $300 for the standard Microsoft Office 2007.

No I don't. Maybe if it has something that I need I would, but it doesn't so I don't.

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122230)

Well some people do buy it, like it or not. While it does feel just plain wrong to give any praise to the devil, this move does give users of office a little more freedom. Isn't that what we're all shouting about all the time, freedom in software? I'm not so gullible as believe that MS is now pushing for more freedom in software, but this doesn't seem like a bad deal. It requires less of a commitment from users, and it allows them to adapt their usage to future requirements. In fact, I could also see this diversifying the market a lot. Since the initial investment in the software is so much less with this subscription based model, that it allows users more latitude, especially in enterprise. Think about how often this situation occurs: a manager has just spent $x (where x is large) on an office solution, and because of the fact the solution cost so much, the company then feels tied to it because the investment was so great. Lowering the capital investment will increase the openness of companies to more solutions, probably even open source ones.

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122406)

It also has the great effect of making a person feel like they are paying X for MS-Office instead of the usual Y (X Y). And so reduces the apparent need for cheaper software. But I believe people have the right to pay for expensive software.

Re:Not Unreasonable (4, Insightful)

gunnk (463227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122376)

Agreed. OpenOffice does everything I need and no one even knows I'm not doing my work with MS Office. My docs look great and my spreadsheets do everything I need. I don't do many presentations ala PowerPoint, but I could do it with OpenOffice if I needed to.

I actually understand why people stick with Windows more than I do Office. To most people Windows appears to come "free" with their computer. Office is always extra. OpenOffice is free, powerful and just as easy to use. Why pay for something when you can get the same feel and functionality for free?

Re:Not Unreasonable (3, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122064)

What about when your files become incompatible with the latest version?

If you have your file spread across 3 versions of office with minor to serious incompatabilities, how do you use your old files?

Re:Not Unreasonable (2, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122170)

re:"These products don't usually have more than a 3-4 year life-cycle anyway"

That's cuz MS *HAD* to release updates to get more $
With this, they get $ regardless of what they add in.

At the start, they will add really useful stuff that you can only get in "Albany".
Once enough idiots bite, they'll stop improving things, fire half their programmers and hire lawyers.
Why?
-To sue people trying to cancel their Albany subscription.
-To sue OpenOffice for implementing their patented, ISO standard file format.

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

Marc Desrochers (606563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122198)

You're assuming that it *will* improve, and you are also assuming that the TOS will not change. But what's to worry about, Microsoft wouldn't do that would they?

Re:Not Unreasonable (2, Interesting)

altoz (653655) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122238)

It's actually better for them since it keeps a steady revenue stream instead of sales bumps. It might actually be a good thing for the user if you can use your subscription on any computer. That way, you wouldn't have to buy a subscription for the 6 computers in the house.

However, it sounds too much like a gym membership that doesn't get used. I'm going to guess that google documents and the like will see a lot more usage as these things get more and more costly. Microsoft is a monopoly trying to cash in on its market share, but those things usually aren't taken well. At some point, they will lose market share. It's inevitable since they're taking a lot of money for delivering a good that's only marginally better than what's out there for free.

Re:Not Unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122264)

it's completely as stupid as it looks. Who actually uses all the bells and whistles of Office? I bought Office 2000 in my last year at univ, and I still use it. The new versions have never evinced the slightest desire on my part to upgrade - and it is exactly this ability to buy once and have forever that goes away once we mindlessly allow M$ to stampede us into a subscription model.

Occational User (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122266)

This could be nice for individuals who only use the software occationally. That way you would only need to activate for a month here and there and hopefully save on having to buy the whole package.

Still, I'd rather use OO.o, as I rarely use the office package, and its free to use.

Get Less for More! FAIL. (0, Flamebait)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122348)

Most of the services you are touting are already provided or are more generous for previous versions. Free updates? by most reasonable software vendors, yes. Install on more than one computer? Not the subscription model. Price? Well, if I was dumb enough to pay the full $400 for M$ Office and installed it on four computers, I would not feel as raped and I'd get to keep using it as long as the computers are bearable and I'm not sick of rebuilding them. Or ... I could just use Open Office and get something with zero restrictions at no cost. The subscription model is going to fail them because they are competing with free by trying to chisel every last nickel out of their customers.

Re:Not Unreasonable (3, Insightful)

Ivecowarrior (1082429) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122360)

If all they're doing is spreading out the payment over 3-4 years, with a small premium thrown in, that's not such a bad deal.
Except that with the traditional model, you can continue to use your old and outdated software for ever at no further cost.
With this model, if you stop paying, you lose all the benefit of 4 years' payments.

Re:Not Unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122390)

But if you take off your microsoft-bashing hat for a second, this isn't as stupid as it looks.
My brain says: "Yes, it is!".

Re:Not Unreasonable (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122414)

You obviously don't do very much small biz/home support. I still have clients who use Office 97 on their Win98 SE machines (*shudder*). The vast majority are Office XP and Windows XP SP2 and have no plans of changing anything anytime soon. The average Joe PC user will eventually move to an on-line equivalent but it's doubtful it will be office with so many free alternatives springing up. The subscription model is squarely pointed to the corporate environment where the accounting department already has to break their IT expenses into annual expenditures. Microsoft's answer for Joe PC user is MS Works ad supported office alternative.

This will be teh death of MacroSuck(tm) (0, Troll)

macs4all (973270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121986)

What MS's game plan is, IMHO, is to introduce the suppository service, then raise the price of the boxed version until no one can afford to use anything but the suppository version.

Then, they simply keep inching up the suppository fee, year by year, version by version...

The only problem with their plan is, the alternatives are getting as good, and in some ways better than, the "original".

And once Office and Exchange are no longer dominant, can Windows be far behind?

Re:This will be teh death of MacroSuck(tm) (3, Funny)

CowboyNealOption (1262194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122154)

I stopped reading at the part where you talked about their suppository continuing to inch upwards. I don't care how great a piece of software is, but that is a definite no-go. Ouch.

Re:This will be teh death of MacroSuck(tm) (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122182)

Why are you talking about suppositories anyway?

Re:This will be teh death of MacroSuck(tm) (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122296)

Why are you talking about suppositories anyway?


Well, we ARE talking about Microsoft.

I Subscribe to OpenOffice (3, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23121988)

Funny thing, too - it's totally free, I can download and use a copy locally, and I can use it on as many computers as I want to.

My security is also free, is updated regularly, and is pretty secure the way I have it configured. BTW, it's Linux.

Microsoft? Naahhhh...

Tired of Subscriptions (5, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122002)

I can't think I'm the only one getting tired of the subscription model for everything. I remember thinking at one point that I'm going to need to start figuring out what I can afford to have and not, simply because everything seems to be moving in that direction.

Cable, phone, utilities all seems standard to us at this point, but now we have music subscriptions (stop paying, lose your music), radio subscriptions (love that satellite radio), game subscriptions (WoW addicts unite), and now more and more software subscriptions (I'm sorry, licensing).

I can perhaps forgive it for something like antivirus software where you are constantly downloading updates (glad my Mac doesn't need that yet), but Office? When do they slip Windows into that model? Would you like to boot today? Your subscription has expired, please enter a valid credit card.

Re:Tired of Subscriptions (1)

edn4 (1214790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122272)

need to start figuring out what I can afford to have and not
Subscriptions make that easier, because instead of paying $300 up front, you can decide to cancel the subscription after a year if you find something better or your circumstances change.

Re:Tired of Subscriptions (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122350)

Umm, no.

Most things involving subscriptions have fees to sign up. This is like removing leasing as an option and renting to be the only option.

The difference here is you don't have a choice, let alone that there is a monumental subscription cancellation fee (note: losing the ability to use a program completely).

This is like WGA validation version 3.0

Future Malware. (0, Flamebait)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122396)

Would you like to boot today? Your subscription has expired, please enter a valid credit card.

You can imagine the mechanism will be hijacked right away and your credit card details will go to some server in Albania. Not that that's much worse than your Microsoft set of subscriptions is now.

Re:Tired of Subscriptions (2, Interesting)

Crayon Kid (700279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122404)

Sad thing is, they used to have this kind of jokes all through the 90's. You know, how MS will release a floppy that doubles as a CC reader and so on. They used to be funny back then. It gets a bit chilly when you see it happening.

Microsoft Albania... (5, Funny)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122010)

...the balkanization of software.

Re:Microsoft Albania... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122292)

Very clever. Unfortunately, I suspect that you will hear nothing more than a loud "whoosh" in response.

What Happened? (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122014)

Microsoft didn't used to be so out of touch with its customers. What happened to these guys? Just when you think they can't get any stupider ...

Re:What Happened? (3, Informative)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122278)

According to TFA, this is an option they're offering and doesn't replace selling Office as they currently do.

From that perspective, I don't see this as out of touch with their customers. I'm sure a majority of the people who buy Office won't want this Albany thing, but I'll bet some do and those customers will be served better.

Large corporations I can especially see going for this. You budget for it and forget about it. It's how they tend to roll.

Re:What Happened? (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122356)

When most of the core "computer" guys who were in from the start made their millions they left. Those that took over (some of whom were always there but not able to overrule the computer guys) were the corporate whores who's only aim is to make as much money and control as much as they possibly can.

Ironically I feel if they had implemented this model 10 years ago it likely would have been accepted and become the norm (and MS would have forever controlled office software). Introducing it now, it is likely to fail. Everyone is far more wary of jumping into the "MS abyss", certainly in my own place of work the enforcement from the in the last 6 months is standardisation on office 2003, never mind 2007 or subscription models. Attempts to strong arm this onto businesses will lead to them refusing to budge from 2003 or, even worse (from MS's perspective), jumping over to OOO.

It was entirely predictable though - 2007 contained nothing of interest. They couldn't keep creating new glassy icons and gimmicky gui changes for ever and expecting people to pay $300 for it. A subscription model is the only way they can "secure the revenue stream". And for the corporate whores running MS, "securing the revenue stream" is all that matters - the customer is way down the list of priorities.

Once they START paying... (5, Funny)

theolein (316044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122054)

Given the wildly unsuccessful way that people took to subscription music services, I can see this being as successful as, say, the Zune.

Software Maintenance (2, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122072)

Too bad this isn't like a software maintenance plan. In those cases, you at least own whatever the current version is if you stop paying the licensing.

Wait a minute... (1)

SilverEyes (822768) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122076)

For all the alarmists out there, how is this different from what Microsoft already does...? They install a "host of services" onto your PC (bloat). Then you stop paying for it, losing the "right to use it on your PC" (which you never had to begin with, read their EULAs). This means you have a bunch of junk sitting on your box, having spent a bunch of money, for stuff you can't use. Seems like many Office+Windows experiences already out there...

so in other words (3, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122096)

I don't even have to read the details to bet that you need an internet connection open every single time you open Office so it can contact the licensing server. If the time limit was kept locally, that'd be too hackable. So what about laptops? I guess you can't open your word documents if there's no wifi in your hotel. That'll go over great. Btw this whole process is about 10x more hackable than what they use now.

Re:so in other words (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122220)

bet that you need an internet connection open every single time you open Office
You don't need an internet connection at all if you get open Office on a CD :P

Re:so in other words (1)

gunnk (463227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122416)

Probably not -- like much software I'm guessing you'll only need a connection for resubscribing when your current license expires and for downloading updates.

I believe this because I think it's already real (2, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122110)

I have a legitimate fully paid for version of MS Office 2003 that absolutely will NOT install a single MS Update, ever. And it hasn't for more than a year. I suspect this is a stealth version of something like that where MS determines who gets what and when.

I'm not thrilled with the snappiness of the performance of Open Office but clearly this is the way I will go the next time around.

Other than XP, MS Office and some tools related to scanner and digitizer tablet hardware (which is essentially free once you buy the hardware), I have cost free software on all my machines.

Freespire (Ubuntu) here I come!

Re:I believe this because I think it's already rea (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122164)

I've never run any tests, but to me OO feels pretty speedy in a Linux environment but pokey under Windows. Is this psychological or does MS just not play nice with OO code?

GOOGLE DOCS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122138)

Google docs ftw (hosted and now it is also desktop app)

Pushing more people away? (2, Interesting)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122140)

I've already pretty much decided to never use Windows again once I can no longer run XP on the two systems I have it installed on at home. I use a Mac at work to manage a number of linux & solaris systems. Nobody in my department uses Windows. I also know more family members & friends who are perfectly happy with Windows XP and have no desire whatsoever to upgrade to Vista. They're also perfectly happy with the versions of Office, etc. that they currently have. If MS really tries to force people to switch to a rental model for their software I can only see it alienating more of their customers and convincing them to look to Macs & linux systems a a cost-effective replacement.

And thus... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122156)

...it begins.

(Cue "DUHN DUHN DUHNNNN" music.)

Re:And thus... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122366)

...it begins.

(Cue "DUHN DUHN DUHNNNN" music.)
That's the "something bad is about to happen" music, you need the "the world is about to be a better place" music. Maybe the piece with the metal things making ping-plink-ping noises, the "new dawn" wind effect and deer gaily running around in the background. Underneath a rainbow, of course.

More agile perhaps? (3, Informative)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122196)

One of the underlying goals of Agile software is to get away from the "big number release" type of mentality that leads to unhealthy software development practices (why worry about memory consumption when the product isn't go to ship for another 2 years? ...) and instead move developers into a mindset that their software should almost constantly be of ship quality.

Agile development also allows the quality of the software to be under constant incremental improvement. But this has a downside as well: it becomes very hard to pick a point in time to stop releasing patches and instead tell customers "now you have to buy a new version", especially since the next version that the company releases is "just" another incremental improvement over the previous release.

So basically agile development practices can spell death for the "Shiny New Version" business model, and thus an alternative revenue stream needs to be found.

Agile software allows developers to consistently and continuously release incrementally improved versions of an application. It therefore makes sense for companies to continuously pay incremental amounts for use of that software.

Selling the concept of "it will get better over time" to who ever is making business purchasing decisions may not be easy, but in the end, if some sales person can pull it off, it will be to everyone's benefit.

Customers will be able to have a more direct and immediate interaction with software companies, and software companies will be able to practice the software development methodologies that they KNOW they should be practicing.

Note in my defense:
Some people may take offense that agile software means no more big new versions, but I'd argue that it feels intuitively 'wrong' to fix a software bug that is annoying many users, but is too low priority to make the cut for a service pack, and then sit around knowing that users will not get to see this trivial fix for years, just because of the common business model that is used to sell big box software.

Disclaimer: I'm a Microsoft employee (been on /. a lot longer than @ MS!), everything I say is my own opinion and does not reflect the opinions of Microsoft.

(Besides, I've been here under a year and I work in mobile compilers!)

Re:More agile perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122288)

IMHO Microsoft is entirely incapable of implementing this agile software process that you speak of. They would need to fire all their mid-level managers, software architects, and programmers and hire entirely new ones. That's the only way they'll ever get rid of the whole big corporate mentality that is the origin of their bloated software development model. Taking the existing bureaucracy that MS has and shifting it to an agile model is neigh on impossible.

Re:More agile perhaps? (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122294)

Hey.... many MS-Devs are slashdotters. I dont think we have anything against them, and certaintly nothing against you.

So chill and congrats on your great job at a very rich enterprise. Hope you do well.

Having said that.... well... ive already posted my own mind in my own comment, thank you very much.

Re:More agile perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23122386)

The last thing in the world that I want is to use a product like Microsoft Word from Office 2000 and, after getting used to it's UI, having a whole new UI pushed out to me unexpectedly (like Word 2007). That's what your "agile" development model would eventually force on people. Some project manager at MS decides they want to change around the UI so in using the "agile" method you describe, an incremental update suddenly forces me to have to relearn the entire application? No thanks! Sounds to me like MS is losing what little touch they once had with their end users.

The Onecare tie-in is cute. (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122214)

I think the connection to Onecare is an interesting touch. Microsoft, among other "enterprise" software types, has had fair success getting corporate customers paying for subscription or quasi-subscription products for a while now(Software Assurance, anything with a mandatory support contract, some site-licence flavors, etc.); but the idea rubs individual users badly. Even if the economics are actually favorable, software with a self-destruct system just doesn't feel right. People like owning stuff.

Antivirus, though, is the closest thing to an exception(well, that and MMORPGs). People are neither happy nor efficient about it; but they often do end up paying for their subscription.

Connecting a product whose subscription feels "natural"(virus signatures are a service, and are pay per unit time) with a product whose subscription feels "artificial"(Office suites can be priced as services; but nothing about them makes them so) is an interesting tactic. I wonder if it will work.

Microsoft has wanted subscription software for years, so this isn't too surprising; but it may well have gained urgency from the push toward really, really cheap computers. Full upfront software cost is a hard sell on cheap hardware; but you might be able to make it palatable by stretching it into a subscription(plus, there will finally be a way to exterminate those pesky Office 97 users!).

The idea makes me a bit nervous, though, because it points to a model of computer use very, very similar to today's cellphone model. Cheap hardware, low upfront cost; but continual, tightly controlled, nickel and diming throughout the life of the product. Unfortunately, for all the progress they have achieved, cellphones are a really miserable lesson in why the openness of the PC world is so vital.

God, what have we done to deserve this? (3, Insightful)

alexborges (313924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122234)

You have to like getting fucked by a monopoly to BUY any kind of microsoft product.

You have to be incredebly stupid, and still a total masochist, to even think about RENTING it.

Jeesus, please save us from all this ignorance.

This really isn't so bad... (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122276)

If their prices are reasonable this could prove to be a much better value for some of their existing customers, and at the same time provide a great reason for their other customers to look into OpenOffice.

Everybody wins. Go Microsoft!

Re:This really isn't so bad... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122326)

I'm humored you managed to use reasonable and Microsoft in the same sentence!

Nothing like not even owning something that you pay for at the same rate as previous. Yes, that sounds like a good idea.

Purple Kool-aid or plague? (2, Interesting)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122358)

Don't do it. It spreads the "arbitrarily changing format blackhole disease."
I've been happy with OpenOffice for several years while MS Office has produced interesting, and embarrassing, format failures between editions. One example, on a Vista laptop, tried with both Office 2003 and 2007, failed to accurately render many company Powerpoint slides that had worked with Powerpoint 2003 on XP, for important meetings. As much as one would like to dismiss MS Office users as drinking Purple Kool-Aid, a self curing problem, recognizing them as plague spreaders would be closer to the mark.

Everyone say it along with me (1)

4thAce (456825) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122402)

Code-named Albany
Microsoft Spitzer

Microsoft tax. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23122418)

Consider Albany being the capital of NY, one of the most taxed states. All those taxes go to Albany. It is a microsoft tax
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