Feeds

Microsoft needs 'off switch'

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

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? ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
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
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.