Feeds

MS to intro ‘annual sub’ price structure with Office 10

It's like Office.NET. Except it's not Office.NET...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

Microsoft is to introduce its long-anticipated "annuity" model for software sales in the middle of next year, the company announced today in Las Vegas. But although renting out software as a service is a key part of the .NET strategy, the software the company will be renting first will be exactly the same as the packaged version you buy (well OK, license) outright.

Essentially, when Office 10 ships "towards the end of the first half of 2001" Microsoft will be testing out the mechanisms before it's actually shipping the product. Office.NET, which presumably will be the real thing, is a separate development track to Office 10, which to all intents and purposes will be a traditional packaged product.

The new rental model will work like this. You'll "subscribe" to Office 10 at a "lower initial cost" which Microsoft has not as yet specified. You'll get product upgrades during your subscription at "no additional expense," and you'll have to renew your subscription annually, via phone, Internet or by buying "a new subscription product" at retail.

Although the subscription Office 10 will be exactly the same as the non-subscription, i.e. not Office.NET, Microsoft says it's taking "a significant step toward our vision of an Office.NET subscription service."

Until Microsoft comes up with pricing and some clearer definitions it will be impossible to tell whether or not the 'software as a service' initiative will be a good deal. If the 'free upgrades' include whole new revs of Office, then it might turn out to be a good way of keeping pace with developments. But on the other hand, the upgrade path will likely be along the Office.NET track, and under that regime you'd surely expect whatever you were renting to be current.

Although Microsoft is pitching the new scheme as a kind of prelude to .NET, it has some similarities to an approach it has used in the enterprise market for years. There, customers are offered substantial discounts in exchange for signing up their users for a number of years, and for agreeing to take the upgrades made available during the term of the contract. This of course locks the enterprise into Microsoft software for the period of the contract, and makes it more difficult to switch away again, because of retraining costs. If Microsoft offers extra discounts on the subscription for signing up for longer periods (a la MSN), then a similar lock in factor could start to apply to the home and small business markets. ®

Related Stories

Microsoft's plan to levy annual rental fee for Windows
MS to ship new Win98 in May - annual rental here we come?
MS squeezes out free service pack distribution

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
Profitless Twitter: We're looking to raise $1.5... yes, billion
We'll spend the dosh on transactions, biz stuff 'n' sh*t
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.