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Microsoft tells users they have to pay to play

If you want to grab a copy of Office 2007 Beta 2 to try out, you had better do it before Wednesday of this week. Microsoft has announced that starting this week it will charge customers $1.50 to download the beta. The move to charge customers for the download is a part of an effort to recover some of the costs associated with the delivering the productivity suite to so many customers.

"In just the past two months since its launch, more than 3 million people have downloaded the 2007 Microsoft Office system beta 2. Given how dramatically the beta 2 downloads have exceeded our goals, we have made the business decision to implement a cost-recovery measure for downloading the beta," said a company representative in an email to CIO Magazine.

Although Microsoft notes that over 3 million people have downloaded Office 2007 Beta 2 since it was first made available in May, Windows Vista has been seeing some heavy downloading as well. In fact, Microsoft labeled Windows Vista Beta 2 the "Biggest software download event in history." With that being said, there is still no word from the company as to whether it will in the future charge consumers who wish to download the Vista beta.

Office 2007 and Windows Vista have been delayed regularly by Microsoft and are now scheduled to launch in January of next year if all goes according to plan. The company has also announced that it will spend nearly $1 billion USD to market its two software juggernauts.

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So they charge us to find there bugs?
By z3R0C00L on 7/31/06, Rating: 0
RE: So they charge us to find there bugs?
By Knish on 7/31/06, Rating: 0
RE: So they charge us to find there bugs?
By RandomFool on 7/31/2006 1:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming that comment is supposed to imply that Microsoft's software isn't fully tested before being released to the general public?

RE: So they charge us to find there bugs?
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 1:13:32 PM , Rating: 1
I would guess so, and since there are lots of other companies that have figured out how to develop and release perfectly bug-free software that perfectly meets customer requirements in the first release, I sure wish that Microsoft would get with the program and do the same. LOL.

RE: So they charge us to find there bugs?
By RandomFool on 7/31/2006 2:17:27 PM , Rating: 3
That's funny, I've never seen a perfectly bug free piece of software.

RE: So they charge us to find there bugs?
By Zirconium on 7/31/2006 2:38:11 PM , Rating: 2
That's funny, I was able to detect sarcasm in the parent post, but not in yours.

By RandomFool on 7/31/2006 3:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you're looking the the wrong spot?

RE: So they charge us to find there bugs?
By casket on 8/1/2006 8:22:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming that comment is supposed to imply that Microsoft's software isn't fully tested before being released to the general public?

10 years ago, this was how Microsoft got an edge. They didn't test anything at all. They would release buggy software for Free to millions of users... and let them find all the bugs for Free. In addition, they could beat all of there competitors to market... developing software 30% faster, by shortcutting the debugging phase. This was their testing policy for years... I'm sure they must have improved it since.

With a product like Office, though, they do not have to re-invent the wheel. Probably 96% the same code as office 2003. Office being pretty old (lots of versions), it seems pretty stable these days.

By masher2 on 8/1/2006 9:25:16 AM , Rating: 1
> "10 years ago, this was how Microsoft got an edge. They didn't test anything at all."

Lol, let me correct your history. First of all, Microsoft "got their edge" far more than ten years ago. That came during the days of Windows 3.0. And they didn't get it by "not testing" software either. At the time, their primary competitor was OS/2, and a few DOS-based graphical shells. OS/2 was superior technology by far...but IBM treated developers as a revenue stream, to be milked like the tit on a balky cow. They charged a fortune for their development tools, gave little helpful information with them, and even less support. Microsoft, on the other hand, gave tools away for free. They even wrote code for developers...and gave that away also. Documentation and tech support were head-and-shoulders above anyone else's at the time. The result was predictable-- a hundred times as much software was written for Windows as for OS/2.

And OS/2 itself? It wound up forming the basis of Windows NT, which itself begat Win2000, WinXp, and all future Microsoft OSes.

$4.5 million in bandwidth costs?
By heulenwolf on 7/31/2006 1:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no expert on the cost of bandwidth, but if you do the math from the article (3 million downloaders x $1.50 each), it adds up to $4.5 million in "cost recovery." Obviously, they're expecting fewer downloads since it will no longer be free but they seem to use the same logic when calculating how much was "lost" due to piracy. Are they claiming the bandwidth and hosting has/will cost them 4.5 mil USD? Does that make any sense at all? If it really costs so much, they're foolish for not starting a torrent.

RE: $4.5 million in bandwidth costs?
By Seer on 7/31/2006 1:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
Your logic is flawed. Those 3 million have already downloaded the software for are you multiplying 3 mil by $1.50?

RE: $4.5 million in bandwidth costs?
By Master Kenobi on 7/31/2006 1:58:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. This isn't so much about recouping costs as much as it is to stop the spamming of their download site. For 1.50 all the people who are just downloading it to download it, will likely be left adrift. Besides for 1.50, why not just kick it up to 8 or 12 bux and have them mail you the package ina CD and everything. When was the last time you could purchase a productivity suite for 12 bux or even a 1.50? Dream on folks...

RE: $4.5 million in bandwidth costs?
By Vertigo101 on 7/31/2006 3:11:46 PM , Rating: 1
OpenOffice.Org is still free man. Wake up.

By Codemonkey3 on 7/31/2006 8:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
You know I've used OpenOffice at various releases, but always end up just removing it a few days later. I'm yet to see a stable and even remotely bug free version - $1.50? Don't mind if I do...

RE: $4.5 million in bandwidth costs?
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 9:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
OpenOffice.Org is still free man. Wake up.

Ever heard the old cliché "you get what you pay for"?

IMO, $1.50 for Office 2007 for 6 months is a far better deal than OOo for free. I've used both, the difference is clear.

Hello.. McFLy... BitTorrent...
By xKelemvor on 7/31/2006 1:21:43 PM , Rating: 1
So MS forces people to take down the sites releasing their software via BitTorrent and then decides to charge people to downlaod it? What a crock.

WHy doesn't MS just host their own Torrent file and let people rock n roll from there. THeir bandwidth would drop immensely.

By Vertigo101 on 7/31/2006 1:35:32 PM , Rating: 2
This is also an excellent idea. Seconded.

RE: Hello.. McFLy... BitTorrent...
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 1:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
WHy doesn't MS just host their own Torrent file and let people rock n roll from there. THeir bandwidth would drop immensely.

The reasons should be obvious if you think about it. Here are a few reasons that I could think of:

1. Microsoft wants to retain control over the date when the download is no longer available.

2. Microsoft wants to guarantee that every user receiving the file is getting an exact copy of the original that has not been tampered with. (Yes, I realize you can check the signature on the download and that it may be hard to build a new image with the same checksum, but how do you guarantee all users will check this prior to burning from the ISO?)

3. Microsoft wants to get contact info from potential customers who download the beta so that they can market the product to them after it is released. (Microsoft is a business after all; they have a vested interest in selling their software.)

RE: Hello.. McFLy... BitTorrent...
By Vertigo101 on 7/31/2006 3:08:39 PM , Rating: 3
1. It's pretty easy to remove an entry from a tracker, so they can easily stop their own download services. Other people would continue to trade the files on other tracekrs, but how is that any different from what happens now?
2. You get the exact same thing that everybody else on the tracker gets. The clients hash-check each piece recieved.
3. You'll still have to register to get your key.

MS running their own tracker is a great idea.

RE: Hello.. McFLy... BitTorrent...
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 9:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
You make some good points, but I still think that Microsoft would invariably lose some control of the distribution of their software. But maybe it could work?

By Souka on 7/31/2006 12:51:52 PM , Rating: 3
Sure..why not... but MSDN Subscribers should still get it free.... comon MS...dont' nickel n' dime us after we spend tens of thousands on your apps and OS's...

RE: Sure....
By The Space Janitor on 7/31/2006 2:56:29 PM , Rating: 2
They will get it free. Once it's finished.

RE: Sure....
By Souka on 7/31/2006 3:01:15 PM , Rating: 3
We're already developing apps and web-pages in preparation of Office 2007. Having to "buy" it is a pain we don't need.

The cost isn't the matter, but having to do a Purchase Order or Expense Report for $1.50 (x #copies needed) costs way more than $1.50.

Hopefully MS will let us has some sort of account we can put a credit-balance $500+ so my developers and Beta-testers don't need to worry about "buying" it each time....

Good for MS
By DallasTexas on 7/31/2006 12:59:44 PM , Rating: 4
Charging a nominal $1.50 is a great idea to keep the riff raff away from their download servers. In that way, the real testers get the server resources they need and MS gets to offset their beta test program. Great idea.

RE: Good for MS
By Vertigo101 on 7/31/2006 1:08:08 PM , Rating: 2
I can agree with that. If I had to pay for it, I probably wouldn't have downloaded the Office Beta, but then again, I'm not gonna buy Office 2007 after just buying Office 2003.

Although, I really am enjoying the beta. It's shaping up to be pretty slick.

RE: Good for MS
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 1:18:02 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and this is no different than Microsoft and other companies have done in the past where they charge you only the shipping cost for beta CDs to cover there costs. This is the same thing.

Anyway, $1.50 is a small price to pay to get to use full Office for 1/2 year or more. The new version is a lot nicer than previous versions, especially if you use Excel or Word a lot.

By ebakke on 7/31/2006 12:53:37 PM , Rating: 2
If Microsoft didn't want to spend the money, it should've limited the number of downloads in the first place. Everyone who downloads it basically becomes a free, unpaid tester for Microsoft. Instituting this fee will only deter people from downloading it. More likely, they'll just grab a copy from a friend who already got it when it was free. What an asinine thing to do.

RE: Stupid
By jjunos on 7/31/2006 1:10:12 PM , Rating: 3
Err...well then Microsofts fee actually worked then, no? I mean, the people that are grabbing it from a friend who already got it for free doesn't exactly sound like the people who are "testing" it out....

RE: Stupid
By Hare on 7/31/2006 1:40:56 PM , Rating: 1
Once again I have to wonder why not just release it as a torrent to minimize expensive bandwidth...

RE: Stupid
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 1:54:13 PM , Rating: 1
To avoid unnecessary duplications, please see my reply below.

By grimdeath on 7/31/2006 7:28:42 PM , Rating: 1
it shouldnt come as a suprize, we know MS isnt here out of the kindness of their heart, their here to get money and your soul.

yea you have to pay to get something you wont get to keep...kinda like least food keep us alive right :P

By TrevorW2005 on 7/31/2006 8:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
So we're all to assume that you're magically operating your computer without electricity, which you pay for, use, and then don't get to keep? And clearly, since you don't like the concept, you have no monthly subscription based items or utilities such as an internet connection, water, or telephone service. No, of course not.

And even if you did pay for anything you physically don't get to keep, I'm sure it's less than $1.50... *cough*

Think about it. You're complaining about spending six quarters in order to have free use of a software for suite 6 months or so...If you're an individual user and you're not willing to pay the $1.50 for the download then it's likely you're Microsoft's target audience for beta-testers that are above and beyond the 3 million testers that already exist. It's that simple. And it makes perfect sense.

By TrevorW2005 on 7/31/2006 8:05:16 PM , Rating: 2
then it's likely you're Microsoft's target audience

Err...Feel free to insert a "not" in there where appropriate. ... not Microsoft's target...

RE: Businesses Are About Making Money
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 9:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
it shouldnt come as a suprize, we know MS isnt here out of the kindness of their heart, their here to get money and your soul.

LOL, you're half right there. Microsoft is a business, and businesses don't exist for "kindness" or for "your soul." Businesses exist in order to make money. Money for a business is kind of like food for them, it keeps them going and able to pay their employees' salaries, their electric bills, taxes, etc. Nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, I'm sure Microsoft will be kind enough to let you keep the downloaded file after the 6 months are up. :o)

Yeah, right...
By cyberguyz on 7/31/2006 1:24:25 PM , Rating: 1
They want me to pay to test their products? Can I get some of what they are smoking?

RE: Yeah, right...
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 1:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
They want me to pay to test their products? Can I get some of what they are smoking?

Most software companies and open source projects have public beta programs where their customers help test their products. Beta programs are not a Microsoft invention. By far the best and most relevant feedback comes from actual users - anyone involved in software development understands this.

If you don't like it, then don't participate! It's that simple.

RE: Yeah, right...
By masher2 on 7/31/2006 2:20:41 PM , Rating: 1
> "If you don't like it, then don't participate! It's that simple"

I'd like to add that the millions of people who participate in beta programs usually do so not to "help find bugs", but because the beta software itself has very real value to them. Perhaps the new version has new features the old did not, or the participants simply enjoy previewing new technology. Either way-- they're doing it because they *want* to, not because Microsoft is forcing them.

RE: Yeah, right...
By Spyvie on 7/31/2006 6:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
I don’t own a licensed copy of Office… so to me the beta that I downloaded for free a couple of months ago is a great deal. I would have gladly paid $1.50 for the privilege of using shiny new software.

As for bugs, about the only trouble I’ve experienced is flakey/incomplete spell checking.

Clever Marketing Guy?
By lemonadesoda on 7/31/2006 5:49:51 PM , Rating: 2
If Microsoft had a clever marketing department, they would cancel the ability to download the beta.

That would bring a little exclusivity to what is, essentially, just beta bug-ridden software.

For the people who havent got a copy already, cancelling the download makes trying to get it an illicit cloak-and-dagger affair. The element of "desire", "exclusivity", "unobtainability", making it "priceless". What a marketing guys wet dream.

RE: Clever Marketing Guy?
By Motley on 7/31/2006 7:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
Uh no, that's your wet dream.

Microsoft's (as well as any other business's) wet dream is having a product that is absolutely irresistable and that they can produce at a fraction of the price people are willing to pay for it.

A marketing guy's wet dream is working for a copy that has the above, and then being able to self-delude themselves into thinking they were the sole reason for the success, all while having to really do nothing to work for it (and collect a slice of the profits).

RE: Clever Marketing Guy?
By lemonadesoda on 8/1/2006 6:07:53 PM , Rating: 2
I can sense a little anger there. Bad experience with your marketing department?

Ooops, sorry guys, this is my fault.
By Fox5 on 7/31/2006 2:24:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I've redownloaded the beta about 5 times because the download keeps messing up. Each time Microsoft sends me a new CD key too. I'd be pretty pissed if I paid $1.50 and then the download messed up though.

BTW, this software is time-limited, I think it expires in Jan or Feb.

By DLeRium on 7/31/2006 3:05:03 PM , Rating: 2
How the hell do your downloads mess up, you must have major issues. Moreoever, there's only one Office 2007 Beta key you get when you sign up. It's the same key all the other beta users get.

By Nocturnal on 7/31/2006 1:09:52 PM , Rating: 2
IIRC they are only doing it for this particular beta and for future releases do not plan to "sell" the beta. Either that or they're going to see how well this goes over. If they can make more $ then obviously they will implement it into their future betas, quite possibly.

By TomZ on 7/31/2006 1:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft charged customers shipping costs for otherwise free Beta software in the past, including Office and Windows. Cost recovery for beta software distribution is nothing new.

Terrific Value
By kibets on 7/31/2006 1:52:00 PM , Rating: 2
Considering you get an extremely nice piece of software which is completely useable for $1.50 I'd say that is a bargain.

That same software will cost hundreds when it ships next year.

Short Term Thinking
By imguessing on 7/31/06, Rating: 0
RE: Short Term Thinking
By TomZ on 7/31/2006 4:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed the part of the story in which 3 million people already downloaded the beta. I think that Microsoft probably believed that, 3 million beta testers is probably enough (to say the least), and that others who want to download and use the software on their dime will at least have to cover the cost of the same. Seems reasonable to me.

I also think it is short-sighed to ignore the basic value of the hundreds of dollars worth of software that can be used for $1.50 for six months. It may not be free, but it certainly is very, very, very cheap.

It's a big chunk
By INeedCache on 7/31/2006 7:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
You complainers are right, as that stiff $1.50 cost will force you to have only $398.50 available instead of $400 for your new graphics card, or whatever else you're spending too much for.

By Staples on 8/1/2006 1:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
So this could be worse as I had to pay $9 or so. Free would be better.

By therealnickdanger on 8/1/2006 8:51:34 AM , Rating: 2
I've got a full version of Office 2K3 that I don't even have loaded since I don't really use Office apps at home. I was thinking about downloading 2K7 "just for the heck of it", but I don't want to pay for it because I wouldn't seriously test it or use it... So Microsoft just saved themselves some pocket change in bandwidth costs.

I would be fascinated to know what Microsoft spends on bandwidth every year for allowing its customers to DL patches and other software at no cost.

Its only a buck fifty
By bobdelt on 7/31/2006 1:52:39 PM , Rating: 1
It's only a dollar and fifty cents! Chill out. If MS did this before they'd have 4.5 million more in cash. Do you like Microsoft gets bandwidth and servers for free or something?

I've seen it ALL now...
By cornfedone on 7/31/06, Rating: -1
RE: I've seen it ALL now...
By masher2 on 7/31/2006 2:21:31 PM , Rating: 3
I think I lost a couple IQ points just from reading the above post. :(

RE: I've seen it ALL now...
By johnsonx on 7/31/2006 3:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't cornfedone remind anyone of good ol' CRAMITPAL?

The similarity is even more obvious on AMD/Intel related posts.

By theprodigalrebel on 7/31/2006 3:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
$1 is what they charged for MSN Messenger Chatrooms too, I think. The idea wasn't to make money but keep out spammers/bots and trolls/flamers - like you.

I think this step is to solve bandwidth problems or something like that. And yeah, Beta software isn't exactly a crash-every-second kinda deal: it can be fully functional for a non mission-critical environment.

$1.50 is what, a bad coffee in a cheap diner? I guess you also have problems with people who (gasp!) donate money to Wikipedia. They must also all be idiots to donate to a free website. $1.50 is NOTHING for functional software.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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