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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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Darn good value
By skaaman on 7/4/2008 7:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well given it supports 3 users, that would be $23.33 per year for the most used application software package on the planet. OneCare is evolving. I switched to it because I found it seems to do its job and stay out of my way. Also, OneNote is also included which isn't part the MS Office Home & Student package. If you haven't used this you are missing a gem of a product.

I guess $0 would still be to much for some people but consider the millions of development man hours in these products and I would say MS has a winner on it's hands with this new model. Time will tell...




RE: Darn good value
By Totemic on 7/4/2008 7:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also, OneNote is also included which isn't part the MS Office Home & Student package.

Actually OneNote is part of Home & Student suite. What's being offered is Home & Student suite + OneCare for $70/year.

Which is still a pretty decent price given that OneCare is $50/year by itself.

So you're basically paying $20/year for Office Home & Student edition.

Of course, whether OneCare is worth $50/year or not is debatable since I personally think Vista + common sense (actually any OS + common sense) trumps any sort of malware detector/remover.


RE: Darn good value
By Stacey Melissa on 7/4/2008 8:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't a good deal. The retail version of Office Home and Student allows installation on 3 computers, and I think OneCare does as well.

Office can be had for $110, and OneCare for much less than $50 if you look around. Or get Office for $110 and NOD32 for $30. The NOD32 is good for one PC for one year, but if you get it directly from ESET, you can get multi-PC and/or multi-year discounts.

Having used OneCare, Kaspersky, Norton, Trend, and NOD32 all in the last couple years, I'd go with NOD32 hands down. The awful UI used to be a deal breaker, but they overhauled it in v3.0.

Would Office + NOD32 be more expensive? Sure, a little bit more for the first couple of years, but after that, it's less expensive. And the whole time, you'd be getting a tremendously better security product.


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