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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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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).

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