Microsoft railroads little man with Office Live U-turn
Aims to be 'in line with competitors'
Microsoft has decided to charge annual fees to all users of its domain renewal service on the Office Live Small Business (OLSB) site.
The company told early adopter customers of the service, who had previously been promised free website registrations for life, that from 1 October it would begin charging them a $14.95 a year renewal fee for their domains.
Redmond had offered the free website registration service as part of its OLSB online service.
As of February 2008 all new OLSB customers were told by Microsoft to expect to stump up $14.95 for each subsequent year that they had a domain name registered on the service.
However, anyone who had signed up before that date to OLSB, which launched in 2006 and is aimed at firms with 10 employees or fewer, had been promised that their domain registrations were for free "in perpetuity."
Come 1 October this year, however, those users will face the same renewal fee as everyone else using the service.
"We’ve made a policy change and will start charging customers who signed up between the above dates the annual domain name renewal fee," said Microsoft on the OLSB website.
"We’ve made the decision to begin charging all customers for custom domains to standardise our pricing and bring it in line with our competitors." ®
Thought i smelt a fish
thought it was to good to be true when it first came out.
lycos now dead office whats next to die ?
A contract requires that a something of value be delivered in return for "a consideration". It's well known that "a consideration" need not be monetary - "a peppercorn" is sometimes used by lawyers, when both parties wish to create a contract, and it's not necessary for the peppercorn to be delivered if it's not demanded.
In this case Microsoft has obtained your sign-up details and (possibly) permission to use them in the course of its business and to sell them on to third parties. That could surely be held to be a consideration, in which case a contract might exist. Although given the army of lawyers that MS supports, I expect that there's some other sort of get-out for MIcrosoft.
Also, what is the applicable law? In the UK, there is legislation outlawing unfair contract terms. Saying "in perpetuity" up front and defining that to mean "until we change our mind" in the small print legalese is almost certainly unfair and therefore unenforcible.
Free for life ... until we change our mind
Free for life ... until we change our mind, in which case what we say actually means fuck all!