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Subscription and ad-supported versions of Office applications in the cards

For many computer users around the world when they think of typing a letter or a research paper, the first thing they think of is Word from Microsoft’s Office suite. The problem for buyers of new computers is that the application typically doesn’t come with a new computer and Office costs in the area of $400 for some versions.

In light of the high price for software that many people simply don’t utilize completely, there are a number of open source alternatives taking some of Microsoft’s thunder away because they are free – applications like OpenOffice and Google Docs for example. Google Docs is especially becoming more interesting to users looking for a Microsoft Office alternative thanks to its recently added offline functionality.

To try and gain back some of what it perceives to be market loss, Microsoft is said to be looking at new business models for its Office applications. According to PC World, Microsoft is considering two new access methods for Office applications including a subscription based model and a free ad-supported version of Microsoft Works.

Exactly what the pricing would be on a subscription version of Microsoft Office is unknown, but as PC World points out it would have to be under $33 per month to remain competitive with the straight purchase option. Many would have a hard time stomaching a subscription-based model.

Microsoft is also reported to be pilot testing an ad-supported version of Microsoft Works that could be provided on new PCs at no change in exchange for having to put up with ads. How exactly the ads would be presented is unknown. Some sort of a quasi-unobtrusive permanent ad space like you see in some versions of the Eudora mail application might not be too bad.

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Ad support Office would be wonderful
By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 5:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
I love when things are ad supported. Who cares if it takes a little bit of your screen. Maybe there could be a 15 second ad every time you boot up office. It could be set up as a simple jpeg and fill the screen for the time it takes to load up Word.

I'm sure that MS wouldn't have to use that many ads since Office is used all the time by many people. If you use Office every day for 5-6 hours a day during a desk job or 2-3 hours for college/highschool that would add up fast.

I think MS could make up the 300-400$ it costs for Office and then some pretty quick.

And then I'm sure they could allow for an ad-free version available for a cost.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 5:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
Very good idea when you think about it. A good deal of people are just pirating Office anyway. So rather than not making any money off them they'd make advertising revenue. Of course someone will come up with an uber1337 Firefox extension that blocks all the ads in Office and then they'll bore everyone to death with their constant talking about it on various forums.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By Master Kenobi on 4/21/2008 6:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
Pirating Office 2007 is considerably harder than previous versions.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 6:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
I think a lot of people will just continue to pirate 2003 or a previous version. I doubt most people will feel they're missing out by not having the ribbon menu system and the other enhancements that come along with 2007.

I take it you've got Office 2007? If so what do you think of it? Do you think it's worth paying for over 2003? I personally think it is.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By Master Kenobi on 4/22/2008 10:32:36 AM , Rating: 2
I think 2007 was absolutely worth every dime. I went and jumped on the Professional version to boot. Here's some features I like.

-1 Million Rows in Excel (The finance people at my company are drooling over this already)
-Native PDF support (Once you grab the free update on the office website, *F U Adobe*)
-Better OLE support for embedding objects
-Access forms are much nicer when giving out databases to people to use.
-New XML Based Format uses smaller file sizes over existing *.DOC/etc... (This comes in handy)
-Powerpoint looks much snazzier when doing meetings and what not (A real winner when trying to entertain a bunch of Director's or higher for an hour or so on something they have no understanding about)
-More but I have a meeting to run to and don't have time to flesh it out further.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By ImSpartacus on 4/23/2008 6:33:33 AM , Rating: 2
My dad would like the million rows in excel (Is it actually a million?). He runs out all the time with his shipping database things.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By Master Kenobi on 4/23/2008 7:54:41 AM , Rating: 2
More rows and columns, and other new limits
To enable you to explore massive amounts of data in worksheets, Office Excel 2007 supports up to 1 million rows and 16 thousand columns per worksheet. Specifically, the Office Excel 2007 grid is 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns, which provides you with 1,500% more rows and 6,300% more columns than you had available in Microsoft Office Excel 2003. For those of you who are curious, columns now end at XFD instead of IV.

Instead of 4 thousand types of formatting, you can now use an unlimited number in the same workbook, and the number of cell references per cell are increased from 8 thousand to limited by available memory.

To improve the performance of Excel, memory management has been increased from 1 GB of memory in Microsoft Office Excel 2003 to 2 GB in Office Excel 2007.

You will also experience faster calculations in large, formula-intensive worksheets because Office Excel 2007 supports multiple processors and multithreaded chipsets.

Office Excel 2007 also supports up to 16 million colors.

By ImSpartacus on 4/23/2008 7:33:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, that is really odd.

You know any cheat codes that unlock those last 930 000 rows?

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By ImSpartacus on 4/23/2008 6:48:59 AM , Rating: 2
I just checked and Excel 2007 is still bound by 2 to the 16th power (65536) lines down and 2 to the 8th power across (IV).

By Master Kenobi on 4/23/2008 7:53:28 AM , Rating: 2
I just checked and Excel 2007 is still bound by 2 to the 16th power (65536) lines down and 2 to the 8th power across (IV).

Suggest you recheck your information then.

By omnicronx on 4/21/2008 7:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
Pirating Office 2007 is considerably harder than previous versions.
That is until you do a torrent search on any major torrent site. I downloaded it and tried it out before I got the student edition.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By Screwballl on 4/21/2008 7:49:01 PM , Rating: 1
whats the point of pirating it? OpenOffice (OOo) is free so there is no need to pirate it. It works better and is stable compared to any release of MSO that I have ever used. I have used pretty much every version since 97 and every single one has crashed on me and many of my customers on a regular basis... yet OpenOffice has not once crashed in any of these cases.
The only people I see spending money on MSO are the ones that really like to waste money. There is nothing MSO can do that OOo can't. Wow, pretty ribbons, MSO may be prettier now but does not have any extended functionality above OOo... anything anyone says is a MSO only option can be done in OOo.

By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 8:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
What about putting custom links into the left side of the Open/Save window? I constantly use a flashdrive and I absolutely love having a giant button right there by desktop and My Documents for me to simply click and be done with it.

This isn't huge, but it's the little things that count. The learning curve was also troublesome for me (but that is my problem).

By nitrous9200 on 4/21/2008 10:23:54 PM , Rating: 3
While OpenOffice covers most of the bases in terms of features and functionality, it's still not quite there. There's plenty of things Office does that OO can't, and Office has a much nicer and easier to use GUI, something that I appreciate a lot (one reason I like Vista compared to XP). And OpenOffice has crashed on me the same number of times, or more, than Office. OO is great to load on a system to give it a good suite of programs for free, but it's still not Office.

By mdbrotha03 on 4/21/2008 11:58:54 PM , Rating: 2
The only people I see spending money on MSO are the ones that really like to waste money.

Or those in the US Army that can buy the Ultimate version for 20 bucks.

By FITCamaro on 4/22/2008 7:24:59 AM , Rating: 3
Open Office is nowhere near as good as MS Office. I use it on a spare PC that I just want the ability to open Office documents with. Other than that, no.

Besides, I paid $20 for my copy of Office 2007 through a program at work. Many professionals have this option through their company.

Then there's also the Student edition. Microsoft was even offering the ultra mega version of Office with all the business stuff for like $70. I believe that promotion is still going on. You just have to have a .edu email address to get it.

By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 8:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
It is not difficult. I think all of us are familiar with torrents and Office 2007 is not spared.

I honestly think a free version of Office with ads would nearly kill piracy of it. Granted, there will always be jerks that feel the need to spite MS, but many people would use an ad supported version of Office versus pirating it if it were released.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By JonnyBlaze on 4/21/2008 10:06:27 PM , Rating: 2
Not really.

Some you don't even need to enter a serial number.

By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 10:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
Lol, yeah you do, many installers just do it for you. But it's easy none the less.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By Houdani on 4/21/2008 5:58:48 PM , Rating: 3
Keep in mind, the article mentions it is an ad supported version of Works , which I've always considered to be a less than half-assed version of Office. I'll pass on that.

As for a subscription to Office, well simply put, that would be a good way to drive me into their competitor's arms. I've tolerated the cost of the OEM versions in the past and would not be willing to pay for a subscription which would (most likely) wind up costing me much, much more than what I've previously paid.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against "subscription taxes," as evidenced by my dalliances with MMORPGs. I'm just against overpaying for items.

RE: Ad support Office would be wonderful
By Lonearchon on 4/21/2008 6:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
To top the fact they only looking at works to be ad support. MS works OEM can be had for $15 on newegg. I prefer a flat up front fee for office suites. If MS release the full suite for $150-$200 many more people would buy opposed to the Current $400(Full version with access and outlook)

By FITCamaro on 4/22/2008 7:44:36 AM , Rating: 2
I think they need to make the basic version with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint about $75. With Outlook, make it $100. Access, $150. The rest of the business software, $200-250.

By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 8:41:11 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind, the article mentions it is an ad supported version of Works , which I've always considered to be a less than half-assed version of Office. I'll pass on that.

Oh crud. Works is only a few bucks anyway. I would never use Works.

Still ad supported Office can be a dream for us mortals.

By Calin on 4/22/2008 8:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
The ads would be in the documents you produce, not only on your workstation.

Office is overpriced
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 5:36:07 PM , Rating: 2
Please don't think I'm a Microsoft hater or anything but Office has always been overpriced which is why a good deal of people just pirate it.

I'm more than happy to pay for Vista (and I have) as it's something I use 100% of the time while my PC is on but Office is something I only use perhaps once or twice a week. The price you pay to get a decent MS office suite is just ridiculous.

So I'll just go on my girlfriend's PC and use her legal copy of Office 2007 rather than paying Microsoft a reasonable amount to have it on my PC.

RE: Office is overpriced
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 5:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
Bah. Where's an edit button when you need it?

Forgot to add that I'd be happy to run an ad supported version of Office as long as the ads only appear when using an office app which I'm sure they would. So if Microsoft do release an ad supported version of office with the office apps I need then I'll be downloading it for sure.

RE: Office is overpriced
By Cherish on 4/21/2008 5:40:58 PM , Rating: 5
Too bad you haven't heard of Home And Student Edition. The most reasonably priced one.

RE: Office is overpriced
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 5:49:51 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't have Outlook which is a deal breaker for me. I can do without Word and Powerpoint tbh. My girlfriend got her copy of Office Ultimate 2007 through the ultimate steal promotion for a rather reasonable price. So I just use her computer or remote into it if I'm feeling especially lazy.

RE: Office is overpriced
By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 8:43:08 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't have Outlook which kills it for me. I also use Access from time to time, but I can deal with using OpenOffice for that.

RE: Office is overpriced
By Houdani on 4/22/2008 10:10:56 AM , Rating: 2
A full version of Outlook is around $85 and Home/Student is $120 (Amazon prices). So for $205 you can build a FrankenOffice which is $100 cheaper than the full version of MS Office Standard.

As a bonus, you can legally install Home/Student on three PCs in your house AND transfer the license to other machines when you buy new computers.

From the license agreement:
"You may install one copy of the software on three licensed devices in your household for use by people who reside there. ... You may reassign the license to a different device any number of times, but not more than one time every 90 days."


RE: Office is overpriced
By ImSpartacus on 4/23/2008 6:36:21 AM , Rating: 2
Oh shnap, I didn't think Outlook was so cheap. I always thought Office apps were 100-150$ each. Nice call.

RE: Office is overpriced
By BladeVenom on 4/21/2008 5:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
Just use Open Office, or some other free alternatives.

RE: Office is overpriced
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 6:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
G/F's PC in the next room is free and Office Ultimate 2007 is better than Open Office. Open Office was flaky when we ran it. The ribbon menu system takes some getting used to but once you get used to it it's quicker.

My girlfriend is a school teacher so spends a lot of time using Office to make worksheets, powerpoint slideshows for school so uses Office for a couple of hours a night and could only tolerate Open Office for a couple of months before she pestered me to find a reasonable priced alternative. She couldn't be bothered about hating microsoft or loving open source. She simply wants something that enables her to do her work quickly, easily and in a format that will work on her school PC's. I actually think the opinion of someone who just uses a product is worth more than sad people like us who discuss this stuff ad nauseum.

RE: Office is overpriced
By ImSpartacus on 4/21/2008 8:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
I love the ribbon. It actually keeps people off my PC because they can't use it. I love the giant buttons, but you can still have a customizable old style toolbar for your fav's.

One of the many reasons I can't stand using OpenOffice. The ribbon seems liek a gimmick at first, but once you learn it, it is much quicker and smoother (big buttons FTW).

RE: Office is overpriced
By Houdani on 4/22/2008 10:30:02 AM , Rating: 2
As a teacher, your girlfriend qualifies for the Academic Edition of Office (full version of Professional for $175-ish) which can be installed on a laptop and a desktop concurrently. I just thought I'd point that out in case you have an unused license floating around the house.

By quickk on 4/21/2008 9:59:15 PM , Rating: 2
when they think of typing a letter or a research paper , the first thing they think of is Word from Microsoft’s Office suite

This made me cringe. For research papers, nothing beats LaTeX!

RE: Yikes!
By CSMR on 4/22/2008 12:25:07 AM , Rating: 3
A person who doesn't intimately understand the inner workings of computers will not even be able to install LATEX, let alone be comfortable using it. You have to pay to get a self-contained application using LATEX with a decent GUI. Unless the work is dense in mathematics it will rarely be worth it.

RE: Yikes!
By quickk on 4/22/2008 12:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree with you that using LaTeX isn't as simple as using word or openoffice, depending on the type of document you are writing, learning to use LaTeX may well be worth the effort. I'd rarely use LaTeX to write a letter, for example, but I'd certainly use it to write a thesis even if it did not contain any mathematics. LateX in combination with BibTeX (used to keep track, and typeset, your references) is extremely powerful, and does not have to cost you anything.

If anyone is interested in learning about LaTeX, you can check out this nice document:

To use LateX in windows, just install the freely available miktex:

For a nice free windows GUI:

RE: Yikes!
By tanishalfelven on 4/22/2008 10:14:40 PM , Rating: 2
dude,your sense of humor is broken.

Business Model
By BornStar on 4/22/2008 8:40:30 AM , Rating: 2
I was really hoping to see Starla, the business model from Arrested Development, as a picture in this article.

"Solid as a Rock!"

Unfortunately for Microsoft
By 7Enigma on 4/22/2008 1:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's not their business plan that is beginning to fail with Office, its that ANY mainstream free alterative is available. Large corps will continue to buy office for good reason, but the vast majority of consumers will never have a need for anything above and beyond Open Office. They will continue to get revenue from parents and people that have "always just used office", but those numbers will slowly fall (we're in that process now), and then ultimately snowball at a much faster pace.

I liken the current state of Office apps to the browser wars. For a long time almost everyone used IE. First and foremost because it came installed with the computer (1 ding against Office), and secondly because it was free (2nd ding against Office).

With the fact that Office costs money, and no small $change$ at that, in my opinion it will lose marketshare MUCH faster than IE currently is, regardless of what they try to do; be it monthly payments or free with ads. Unless you are significantly better than your competition, a free program that accomplishes 99% of what most users require will dominate the market.....once the word gets out to the mainstream (and I feel that OOo is finally getting there).

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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