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Microsoft hopes to lure bargain hunters with new subscription model, perhaps hints at changing business plan

There have been some in the software industry who have advocated a subscription model for their programs.  They suggest that rental programs could save both the consumer and the software companies.  Microsoft seemed to validate those advocates as it announced that it will begin distributing rental copies of its popular Office productivity suite.

The new deal will bring copies of the software to over 700 Circuit City stores across the country.  The latest version of the Office suite will be bundled with Microsoft's Live OneCare computer security software and will work for $70 per year.

Bryson Gordon, a group product manager for the Office group said that Circuit City does not have an exclusive distribution agreement; it was merely the first to jump on the opportunity.  He said other retailers and PC manufacturers such as Dell may be offering the software bundle soon as well.

The new software bundle is named Microsoft Equipt and comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, plus OneCare and a handful of existing free Windows Live applications.  It was rumored for months, under the codename "Albany". 

Mr. Gordon explained that Equipt is aimed at people who when buying a new computer would skip and Office purchase and merely reuse old Office disks or pirate a friend's copy.  He said that the $70 price tag falls in the middle of McAfee Inc. and Symantec Corp's security offerings, so users can justify the purchase merely as a security suite and get the productivity software as a bonus.

Matt Rosoff, an analyst for the independent research group Directions on Microsoft remarked that while Office is the industry standard, the OneCare security suite has seen slow adoption.  However, he feels the low price and creative business model may help it catch on, probably part of Microsoft's intention with the bundle.

He argues that Microsoft's main focus, though, is increasing the number of Office users, and trying to keep them from an increasing number of free solutions, such as Google's popular Docs software.

Equipt, like Office Home and Student 2007, allows installation on up to 3 machines.  Minor updates are automatically provided, through Window's update software.

The software will be available mid-July.

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MS Office Home and Student is not 200
By aftlizard on 7/4/2008 6:29:36 PM , Rating: 2
You can get MS Home and Office(which is essentially what the Office side of the package is) for $109 at newegg ( With a 3-4 year release schedule, why would I want to pay $110 more for it?Even though it includes OneCare(an inferior security service) it still doesn't seem like it has any sort of value to me.

RE: MS Office Home and Student is not 200
By kmmatney on 7/4/2008 6:33:58 PM , Rating: 2
RE: MS Office Home and Student is not 200
By aftlizard on 7/4/2008 6:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the direct linking, I thought I had done it but I think I fumbled somewhere.

By MarkHark on 7/5/2008 7:34:59 AM , Rating: 3
You forgot to put a space after the link, so the ")." were interpreted as being part of that.

By kmmatney on 7/4/2008 6:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. I'm still using Office2000 at home and it works perfectly fine. You can buy the $109 5-server license for Office, and you'll get at least 5 years out of it. Most high speed internet providers provide free antivirus - I'm using Comcast's free McAfee suite, which works quite well.

By JosefTor on 7/4/2008 6:44:33 PM , Rating: 2
Even $109 is much more then I paid for office. I think I paid $89 with my military discount and my school offers it for free. How is $70 a year good deal? Office should only be a $50-60 application in my opinion anyway. It isn't like they have major updates... and no... Office XP to 2007 wasn't big... just a UI change. They didn't update a lot of their formulas or fix there long standing problems. Office updates are like free money to Microsoft. It is sad though they have a monopoly over the productivity software though.

By AlexWade on 7/5/2008 8:22:43 AM , Rating: 4
I've seen it on sale at retail stores for $110 and at Sam's Club for $130. Within two years, you lose money.

I think this is nothing but an attempt by Microsoft to push their inferior antivirus product.

By TreeLuvBurdpu on 7/5/2008 4:02:30 PM , Rating: 3
Very true. And at the end of that release cycle your old version still works. It still opens documents, allows you to edit... I doubt the subscription version will. It has always struck me as odd that one of the early criticisms of Microsoft was that they make you pay for versioned releases. It was called the Microsoft Tax because they would come out with new versions and make you pay for an upgrade. People used to complain about that. Now they are truly renting, and not complaining? This is a real tax taken annually. I think purchased versions are the best way to pay developers for developing, and to keep it going. Why does everyone want to rent instead of own?

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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