Feeds

Microsoft needs 'off switch'

I'd like to test your beta, where do I pay?

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Comment What are we to make of the latest news about Microsoft Office – namely the story that the company has opted to charge people to download betas rather than cut off the supply? It reckons it has supplied 500 per cent more betas than it planned.

Does this mean someone in Redmond forgot to write an accumulator routine that said "stop at 600,000";?

OK, so it is only $1.50, but if this is still in the realm of genuine beta testing then the idea of asking people to pay to see how many bugs a vendor can generate is an idea that we must sincerely hope does not become endemic amongst the software development community. Getting potential customers to pay good money to find that any product might still not be fit for purpose or riddled with bugs would no doubt be an attractive prospect for vendors.

The next step must surely be that any user finding a problem with the beta will be obliged to pay Microsoft for that privilege. If paying for the server costs of downloading is already required, the actual costs of answering questioning emails from users – let alone fixing problems they might still uncover – is a far meatier economic burden and must obviously be passed on.

Alternatively, of course, the beta programme is simply marketing under another name – the old buy-now-pay-later game of getting three million people using it for "free" until they become so enamoured or committed to it that buying a licence is the easiest option. That in itself is fair enough, but modifying the rules so people pay to be marketed to, paying-now-for-the-chance-to-pay-later, is inspired from a marketing department perspective.

It is a bit like getting a free-sheet local paper and having to pay a $1.50 marketing charge to every advertiser.

This would almost rank as amusingly inspired tactics if it wasn't for the fact that Microsoft hides behind the line that the demand for betas was much greater than it planned. Can't they develop an "off switch" at Redmond?

And if it is an overly successful marketing gambit, then the company should just bite the bullet. It will surely turn most of the "beta testers" into licence-holding customers, and it can't be that short of wonga to need the money, can it? ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.