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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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Why is Google Apps the competitor listed?
By wrekd on 7/4/2008 8:22:59 PM , Rating: 5
I work in IT and I ready plenty of tech news and trends. Who the hell uses Google Apps? I mean, I hear Google Apps mentioned a lot, but do not know one person who actually uses it. Why not Open Office, or Lotus?

By Master Kenobi on 7/4/2008 9:31:42 PM , Rating: 5
Google Docs, Lotus' lousy suite doesn't really rank up there either. Open Office isn't bad but its still years behind Office 2007. Frankly anyone that thinks there is a real Office competitor is kidding themselves.

RE: Why is Google Apps the competitor listed?
By Larrymon2000 on 7/4/2008 11:59:26 PM , Rating: 4
Freakin amen to that. I've used Open Office on my linux box,'s not that great. The fact that it doesn't have the application extensibility of a mature system like VBA is one example. It's like saying GIMP is as good as Photoshop. No competition.
Free, yes, great for those of us who only need basic formatting and document editing/spreadsheets. And it's not from an "evil" monopoly, so it must be cool. Must be like jumping on the indie movie/music scene.

RE: Why is Google Apps the competitor listed?
By JoshuaBuss on 7/5/08, Rating: 0
By GaryJohnson on 7/5/2008 10:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
Can't they both be infinitely expanded with plug-ins, and what functionality is in GIMP that's not in Photoshop?

There's a few things in Photoshop that I use regularly (for example: vector shape/text layers and layer effects) which aren't in GIMP.

By Pottervilla on 7/4/2008 11:54:01 PM , Rating: 2
The cheap decentralized company my mom works for uses it, and it stinks. It takes sometimes 5 minuets for them to make and her to see a simple change--and there's high speed internet on both ends.

By wa3fkg on 7/5/2008 12:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
I also work in IT and know a number of people currently using Google Apps. I know one local ambulance service using them for scheduling shared documents and email. And I would be willing to bet that they are not the only small business in the area using them or Open Office.

I personally use them with family members so that we can share photos, documents and spreadsheets. I also encourage everyone that I know who gets a computer to install Open Office. I use MS Office at work because my employer provides it with every computer deployed in the company. The company sticks with MS Office because it is so tightly integrated with Windows and other Microsoft applications like Share Point.

I agree in a corporate environment Microsoft makes sense at this time. For home and small business though I just don't think it is worth what they are asking for it.

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