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Microsoft "Albany" Offers Office and Security as Subscription 281

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the renting-your-software dept.
News.com is reporting that Microsoft has confirmed a subscription service is in the works for the next consumer version of their Office Suite. "Code-named Albany, the product has a single installer that puts Office Home and Student, OneCare, as well as a host of Windows Live services, onto a user's PC. As long as users keep paying for the subscription, they are entitled to the latest versions of the products. Once they stop paying, they lose the right to use any version."
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Microsoft "Albany" Offers Office and Security as Subscription

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  • by 26199 (577806) * on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:01PM (#23121840) Homepage

    Once they stop paying, they lose the right to use any version.

    So, an office suite linked to a security product and you lose both if you stop paying ... does this sound at all unpalatable to anyone else?

    (Apparently; currently the survey on the page says 41% prefer the traditional way of buying Office, 38.5% would rather not buy it at all, and 20.5% think it sounds better).

    I suppose the deciding factor is the price -- value for money. And as we know Microsoft has never failed to deliver on that one...

    • by thewils (463314) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:03PM (#23121860) Journal
      Don't worry, it'll be cracked in the first day or so.
    • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:04PM (#23121878) Homepage Journal

      Up here, it's illegal to make it impossible for a person to access their own data. Therefore, while they are allowed to prevent you from making new documents, spreadsheets, etc., they cannot disable the "read-only" features of the software.

      • by 26199 (577806) * on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:05PM (#23121896) Homepage
        But as long as you save in OOXML you can always read your data ... it's an ISO standard!
      • by ergo98 (9391) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:12PM (#23121996) Homepage Journal

        Up here, it's illegal to make it impossible for a person to access their own data.

        I highly doubt this has any applicability to a subscription version of Office. When the subscription runs out, it doesn't suddenly encrypt all of your files. You are still free to bring those files to any of millions of capable machines, any print shop in the world, or use the long existing free "Viewer" versions.
        • by mpapet (761907) on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:19PM (#23122862) Homepage
          free to bring those files ... or use the long existing free "Viewer" versions

          But, not edit them or otherwise legitimately salvage your data.

          It's easy to brush the idea that Microsoft holds your data hostage. Just don't think beyond your current PC. It doesn't bother you, but some of us WANT to open our children's mishmash of pictures and letters when we are old and gray.

          This is the classic strategy where dumb money thinks it's wise to pay month-to-month.

          I forsee upgrade problems that require extra support that one must pay for among a whole slew of gotchas.
        • by penguin_dance (536599) on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:31PM (#23122976)
          But hold on...who says they're going to MAKE any viewers for the new version of Office. There's no guarantee that older viewers will work. What you'd be better off doing is saving your documents to where they will work on older versions of Office.

          Then of course, there's just telling M$ to stick it and continue to use the current version of Office or switch to Open Office. I don't think most users will want or need anything beyond what is available now. I used to teach classes in Office--very few ever use the advanced features. I feel like MS took too long to get something like this out. It's almost like taking a step back to the mainframe days when programs were routinely put out as a subscription coupled with a help/service plan.

          What will be interesting is when Open Office can read/write "Albany" documents. Will MS file a lawsuit?
      • I'd like to know exactly what the law is on this. Consider the following scenario:

        I rent an English-Albanian dictionary and then translate a document from English to Albanian.

        The rental expires on the dictionary, and I return it.

        I can now not access my data despite being in possession of the file.

        Is the owner of the dictionary under a legal obligation to allow me to use it to recover my data? Seems doubtful.

        In the same way, if you're renting this software from Microsoft, and then the rental expires in acc
        • by peragrin (659227) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:21PM (#23122132)
          Where the frack do you rent a dictionary? Wouldn't borrowing one at the library be easier?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          In your example, you saved your document in Albanian. There's nothing preventing you from reloading that document in Albanian.

          Also, it turns out it's also illegal in the US - L'Oreal Corp. sued one of their IT suppliers who turned off all access to their data after they switched contractors. The courts ruled that the data belonged to L'Oreal, not the contractor, and that the contractor had to make the data available in machine-readable form, even if L'Oreal could no longer create additional data records w

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GIL_Dude (850471)
        I'd hope that law is really clear about what "access" to the data is. Because Microsoft ships free "viewers" that allow you to read the data, at which point you could copy and paste it to something else. Not sure if that meets the legal terms in that law, but it sure might. I'd prefer that "access" meant you could read and write, but since copy/paste/write would "work" it may be all that is required.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Access, in this case, means machine-readable form. In other words, you have to be able to export it, even after any "subscription" expires that allows you to create or modify new data in that format.
      • by Ifni (545998)

        How does this work for other subscription services like World of Warcraft? Technically, your character, etc, is your data, though by the EULA Blizzard claims that all data is theirs, so perhaps that's how they get around it, and Microsoft could just do the same.

        Also, it isn't impossible to access your data - you can renew your subscription or even use any of a number of free solutions (OpenOffice) to get at it once your subscription lapses. And who knows, they may very well leave read only enabled.

        In s

        • QFT (Score:5, Informative)

          by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:30PM (#23122242)

          you can renew your subscription or even use any of a number of free solutions (OpenOffice)

          This bears repeating.

        • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:36PM (#23122332)

          How does this work for other subscription services like World of Warcraft? Technically, your character, etc, is your data, though by the EULA Blizzard claims that all data is theirs, so perhaps that's how they get around it,


          Correct, that is how they get around it.

          and Microsoft could just do the same.


          Um, no. Technically, Microsoft could try this gambit; I'm not sure whether, legally, it would work or not. But practically, it'd be a death sentence on Office. Rights to Eleroth the Night Elf is one thing. Rights to your personal correspondence, to the data that your business needs to run, to your personal data, that's another. If Microsoft announced that they owned all the data created by subscription Office, nobody would buy it. Ever.
    • by CowboyNealOption (1262194) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:17PM (#23122070) Journal
      I must admit I appreciate Microsoft making it even easier for me to sell the higher-ups on the advantages of using OpenOffice.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      Hey this sounds great. You need the program to write a paper you just rent it for a while. The Security thing is a little bit more annoying but all virus checkers seem to be going for this system.
      If Microsoft put in anti-virus software for free then people would be having a fit cow over unfair practices.

      Of course you could just get OpenOffice and Linux or you could pick up a Mac.

      But after seeing just how wonderful Vista really is why would anybody play with a toy like Linux or OS/X.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by penguin_dance (536599)
      (Apparently; currently the survey on the page says 41% prefer the traditional way of buying Office, 38.5% would rather not buy it at all, and 20.5% think it sounds better).

      Well, it looks like Slashdotters have been voting--now it's 42.2% would rather use a free alternative, 39% want Office traditional and 18.9% cough*idiots*cough think it sounds appealing.

      Oh, and then there's this:

      Those who subscribe to Albany will also get several free Microsoft products pushed onto their desktop--including online document
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by palapa (69874)
      Albany is for the benefit of the computer sellers: They can advertise Office and One-Care when in reality you only get the first month free.
  • by imamac (1083405) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:06PM (#23121898)
    This is Microsoft's way of demonstrating once and for all that you don't "own" the software you purchase. I hope this doesn't catch on and become the primary distribution model. If we don't own the software we purchase then the manufacturer does not have to guarantee any proper functionality.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)

      If we don't own the software we purchase then the manufacturer does not have to guarantee any proper functionality.
      Have you read the EULA? If it wasn't for consumer protection laws (and basic fraud) you'd have no guarantee that it has any functionality at all, nor is Microsoft liable in case the software eats your data and bricks your machine.
    • I hope this doesn't catch on and become the primary distribution model.

      I hope it DOES catch on - for a while.

      It will give consumers a financial incentive to switch to FOSS - every time a bill comes due. B-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alexhs (877055)
      On the contrary, I hope it becomes the primary MS distribution model.

      People currently don't perceive the cost of MS software as it is included in the cost of the computer.

      If this becomes the primary distribution model, cheaper (and free) alternatives will be perceived all the more interesting.

      Isn't the one-time purchase cost what made MS popular in the first place (against mainframe subscription model) ?
      • by clodney (778910)
        There are going to be two very distinct reactions to this.

        In the home world it is unlikely to take off, because people don't think in terms of the monthly cost of operating their computer. They want to buy and be done with it. Same reason that subscription music services have never done really well.

        But in the large business market this may well succeed. Businesses are accustomed to budgeting and depreciation and all sorts of accounting practices that people don't have to do at home.

        Businesses assume that
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Mattern (191822)

          Businesses assume that it costs X dollars a month for a computer, and as long as the subscription costs fits in nicely with whatever cycle they buy upgrades on, they won't mind the rent/buy dichotomy

          They might--if they perceive it as renting their own data. I predict a lot of business are going to perceive this as paying Microsoft a price in order to access their documents--and Microsoft can change that price any time they feel like it. They aren't going to like that perception. "I am altering the deal.

        • by spisska (796395) on Friday April 18, 2008 @08:34PM (#23124374)

          But in the large business market this may well succeed. Businesses are accustomed to budgeting and depreciation and all sorts of accounting practices that people don't have to do at home.

          Businesses assume that it costs X dollars a month for a computer, and as long as the subscription costs fits in nicely with whatever cycle they buy upgrades on, they won't mind the rent/buy dichotomy.

          Maybe. It's certainly true that business operate on a much different and much more complex accounting and budgeting framework than households, and maybe monthly/yearly payments for software better fit into the whole budgeting/life-cycle/depreciation system. But I rather suspect not.

          Businesses are much more concerned with reliability than with novelty. Businesses are also very concerned about having control over where, when, and on what their money is spent. A CIO may buy something like MS Office figuring on a three-year lifecycle, but then realize that there's nothing to be gained by upgrading. Thus running the software longer than the three-year term originally planned represents a savings, and money in the budget for other things.

          If this were not the case, most businesses would be running MS Vista and MS Office 2007. In fact very few are, and a significant number of businesses still have a significant number of MS Windows 2000 machines running.

          The fact is that a word processor/spreadsheet package is much more like a typewriter than like a telephone line. It's a product that you buy and create documents with, not a service that needs the constant attention and maintenance like a phone network with a huge company behind it. And no business would welcome the possibility of being held hostage by one of their vendors. It's becoming increasingly clear that while applications may be proprietary, there is no reason for data formats to be. It's worth paying for a product for the features it delivers, but not worth the liability if what you create is worthless outside of the application.

          I tend to think instead that this move by MS is fairly insignificant play in what is becoming a very significant battle that will determine the future of the company. They're being forced to shift the whole direction of the firm into an area where they have never had any success, and in which there are already very formidable players.

          This isn't about software subscriptions, it's about hosted services. MS has seen the future and doesn't like what it sees -- systems, applications, databases, communications, etc all living on the network and available anywhere there is a connection (and in many cases where there is not), regardless of platform.

          I work in a middling consultancy that is almost exclusively an MS shop, and I've already seen folks at my firm excited about the Salesforce/Google Apps pairing. We recently migrated our CRM system to Salesforce and the consultants we have on the road are very interested in the ability to review and edit contracts and proposals on the fly, from their Blackberries. They also really like the idea of how chat/mail/calendars can be integrated into particular account records without the clumsiness endemic to Outlook.

          We've only just begun looking into an official use of the Google Apps, but there is much interest. I certainly think we'll be moving in this direction well before we start planning a Vista rollout, or even an Office 2007 rollout. And I don't believe that we are in a unique position.

          MS is terrified of this because their entire existence depends upon the platform -- primarily Windows but also MS Office and the supporting systems that businesses require, like Exchange and MS SQL. Salesforce plus Google Apps chips away at the need for an MS platform, and certainly is a direct attack on the whole one-user/one-system model that MS has always used. I can get to my Saleforce account, company mail, company calendar, company documents, etc. from anywhere, on anyone's system.

          Basically, if

  • Fantastic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:06PM (#23121900)
    Let me see, I need to type my college papers, christmas letters, and an occasional sales poster. Let's see the benefits of the magnificent MS Office Live RX over the OpenOffice, or Symphony...
    Stupidass Microsoft... (And stupidass people paying for that crap...)
  • by NorbrookC (674063) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:06PM (#23121912) Journal

    the state capital of NY, it'll cost a lot of money, spend years trying to accomplish anything, and work only part of the year.

  • by Marc Desrochers (606563) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:08PM (#23121948)
    Perfectly timed, just after OOXML is approved, wouldn't you say?
  • I heard the MS Albany branch is worse than Scranton!
  • Not Unreasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheesethegreat (132893) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:10PM (#23121974)
    Actually, let's just think about this for a second.

    You currently pay $300 for the standard Microsoft Office 2007.

    If all they're doing is spreading out the payment over 3-4 years, with a small premium thrown in, that's not such a bad deal. I'd happily pay a $25-50 premium on software like Office in order to receive constant updates. So if what they want is $115 annually instead of 300 at once, that's fine by me. These products don't usually have more than a 3-4 year life-cycle anyway, and this way instead of being stuck with a single version, you get something which improves over time.

    Obviously, the question of how they implement it, what they charge, and how good the "free upgrades" really are will determine uptake of this product. But if you take off your microsoft-bashing hat for a second, this isn't as stupid as it looks.
    • by pembo13 (770295) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:12PM (#23121992) Homepage

      You currently pay $300 for the standard Microsoft Office 2007.

      No I don't. Maybe if it has something that I need I would, but it doesn't so I don't.

      • Well some people do buy it, like it or not. While it does feel just plain wrong to give any praise to the devil, this move does give users of office a little more freedom. Isn't that what we're all shouting about all the time, freedom in software? I'm not so gullible as believe that MS is now pushing for more freedom in software, but this doesn't seem like a bad deal. It requires less of a commitment from users, and it allows them to adapt their usage to future requirements. In fact, I could also see this d
        • by pembo13 (770295)
          It also has the great effect of making a person feel like they are paying X for MS-Office instead of the usual Y (X Y). And so reduces the apparent need for cheaper software. But I believe people have the right to pay for expensive software.
      • by gunnk (463227) <gunnk&mail,fpg,unc,edu> on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:40PM (#23122376) Homepage
        Agreed. OpenOffice does everything I need and no one even knows I'm not doing my work with MS Office. My docs look great and my spreadsheets do everything I need. I don't do many presentations ala PowerPoint, but I could do it with OpenOffice if I needed to.

        I actually understand why people stick with Windows more than I do Office. To most people Windows appears to come "free" with their computer. Office is always extra. OpenOffice is free, powerful and just as easy to use. Why pay for something when you can get the same feel and functionality for free?
    • by corsec67 (627446) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:17PM (#23122064) Homepage Journal
      What about when your files become incompatible with the latest version?

      If you have your file spread across 3 versions of office with minor to serious incompatabilities, how do you use your old files?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      re:"These products don't usually have more than a 3-4 year life-cycle anyway"

      That's cuz MS *HAD* to release updates to get more $
      With this, they get $ regardless of what they add in.

      At the start, they will add really useful stuff that you can only get in "Albany".
      Once enough idiots bite, they'll stop improving things, fire half their programmers and hire lawyers.
      Why?
      -To sue people trying to cancel their Albany subscription.
      -To sue OpenOffice for implementing their patented, ISO standard file format.
    • You're assuming that it *will* improve, and you are also assuming that the TOS will not change. But what's to worry about, Microsoft wouldn't do that would they?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by altoz (653655)
      It's actually better for them since it keeps a steady revenue stream instead of sales bumps. It might actually be a good thing for the user if you can use your subscription on any computer. That way, you wouldn't have to buy a subscription for the 6 computers in the house.

      However, it sounds too much like a gym membership that doesn't get used. I'm going to guess that google documents and the like will see a lot more usage as these things get more and more costly. Microsoft is a monopoly trying to cash i
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ivecowarrior (1082429)

      If all they're doing is spreading out the payment over 3-4 years, with a small premium thrown in, that's not such a bad deal.
      Except that with the traditional model, you can continue to use your old and outdated software for ever at no further cost.
      With this model, if you stop paying, you lose all the benefit of 4 years' payments.
    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      You obviously don't do very much small biz/home support. I still have clients who use Office 97 on their Win98 SE machines (*shudder*). The vast majority are Office XP and Windows XP SP2 and have no plans of changing anything anytime soon. The average Joe PC user will eventually move to an on-line equivalent but it's doubtful it will be office with so many free alternatives springing up. The subscription model is squarely pointed to the corporate environment where the accounting department already has to br
    • by vux984 (928602)
      If all they're doing is spreading out the payment over 3-4 years, with a small premium thrown in, that's not such a bad deal. I'd happily pay a $25-50 premium on software like Office in order to receive constant updates.

      Once you are on a subscription model why would they bother with the new updates? Your paying them every month whether they release Office 2010 or not.

      MS has to release new versions right now to maintain its sales revenues.

      On a subscription model MS doesn't have to do squat to keep you payin
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by odoketa (1040340)
      I'm a little fuzzy on your '3-4 year' lifecycle. Looks like Office 2003 came out late Oct, 2003. We're well on our way to Oct, 2008. I will confess some places have gone to 2007 - we have not. Thus we are looking at a 5 year lifespan.

      More important, however, is the question of how the updates happen - the reason we haven't gone to 2007 isn't a licensing issue - it's training. Is MS going to force you to accept those updates? Are they going to overhaul the UI while you weren't looking?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rutulian (171771)
      I would normally agree except for the part where you lose the ability to use the software if you stop paying. So if you diligently pay $115/yr. for 4 years ($460 total), and then decide you don't want to pay anymore, you can no longer use Office (i.e: access your files). At least if I pay $400 up front for Office, I can use it for as long as I want, out of date or not.

      The problem Microsoft has with Office is that they really want a subscription model, but they don't have subscription value to add. Think abo
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:11PM (#23121988)
    Funny thing, too - it's totally free, I can download and use a copy locally, and I can use it on as many computers as I want to.

    My security is also free, is updated regularly, and is pretty secure the way I have it configured. BTW, it's Linux.

    Microsoft? Naahhhh...
  • by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine@ofdrago ... minus herbivore> on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:12PM (#23122002) Homepage Journal
    I can't think I'm the only one getting tired of the subscription model for everything. I remember thinking at one point that I'm going to need to start figuring out what I can afford to have and not, simply because everything seems to be moving in that direction.

    Cable, phone, utilities all seems standard to us at this point, but now we have music subscriptions (stop paying, lose your music), radio subscriptions (love that satellite radio), game subscriptions (WoW addicts unite), and now more and more software subscriptions (I'm sorry, licensing).

    I can perhaps forgive it for something like antivirus software where you are constantly downloading updates (glad my Mac doesn't need that yet), but Office? When do they slip Windows into that model? Would you like to boot today? Your subscription has expired, please enter a valid credit card.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Crayon Kid (700279)
      Sad thing is, they used to have this kind of jokes all through the 90's. You know, how MS will release a floppy that doubles as a CC reader and so on. They used to be funny back then. It gets a bit chilly when you see it happening.
  • by matt4077 (581118) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:13PM (#23122010) Homepage
    ...the balkanization of software.
  • by theolein (316044) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:16PM (#23122054) Journal
    Given the wildly unsuccessful way that people took to subscription music services, I can see this being as successful as, say, the Zune.
  • by jd142 (129673) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:17PM (#23122072) Homepage
    Too bad this isn't like a software maintenance plan. In those cases, you at least own whatever the current version is if you stop paying the licensing.
  • so in other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:19PM (#23122096)
    I don't even have to read the details to bet that you need an internet connection open every single time you open Office so it can contact the licensing server. If the time limit was kept locally, that'd be too hackable. So what about laptops? I guess you can't open your word documents if there's no wifi in your hotel. That'll go over great. Btw this whole process is about 10x more hackable than what they use now.
    • by alexhs (877055)

      bet that you need an internet connection open every single time you open Office
      You don't need an internet connection at all if you get open Office on a CD :P
      • by gunnk (463227)
        Probably not -- like much software I'm guessing you'll only need a connection for resubscribing when your current license expires and for downloading updates.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:20PM (#23122110) Homepage Journal
    I have a legitimate fully paid for version of MS Office 2003 that absolutely will NOT install a single MS Update, ever. And it hasn't for more than a year. I suspect this is a stealth version of something like that where MS determines who gets what and when.

    I'm not thrilled with the snappiness of the performance of Open Office but clearly this is the way I will go the next time around.

    Other than XP, MS Office and some tools related to scanner and digitizer tablet hardware (which is essentially free once you buy the hardware), I have cost free software on all my machines.

    Freespire (Ubuntu) here I come!
    • I've never run any tests, but to me OO feels pretty speedy in a Linux environment but pokey under Windows. Is this psychological or does MS just not play nice with OO code?
    • I have a legitimate fully paid for version of MS Office 2003 that absolutely will NOT install a single MS Update, ever. And it hasn't for more than a year.

      Odd... Until last year I still ran an ancient version of Office (95 or 98 I think), but last year the Genuine Advantage thingie offered me a free upgrade to Office 2007. I was a bit suspicious about some malware on my computer offering me a bogus, virus ridden version, but it turned out to be all legit.

      I did find that the most important change is t

  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:22PM (#23122140)
    I've already pretty much decided to never use Windows again once I can no longer run XP on the two systems I have it installed on at home. I use a Mac at work to manage a number of linux & solaris systems. Nobody in my department uses Windows. I also know more family members & friends who are perfectly happy with Windows XP and have no desire whatsoever to upgrade to Vista. They're also perfectly happy with the versions of Office, etc. that they currently have. If MS really tries to force people to switch to a rental model for their software I can only see it alienating more of their customers and convincing them to look to Macs & linux systems a a cost-effective replacement.
  • ...it begins.

    (Cue "DUHN DUHN DUHNNNN" music.)
    • by xaxa (988988)

      ...it begins.

      (Cue "DUHN DUHN DUHNNNN" music.)
      That's the "something bad is about to happen" music, you need the "the world is about to be a better place" music. Maybe the piece with the metal things making ping-plink-ping noises, the "new dawn" wind effect and deer gaily running around in the background. Underneath a rainbow, of course.
  • More agile perhaps? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:27PM (#23122196) Homepage Journal
    One of the underlying goals of Agile software is to get away from the "big number release" type of mentality that leads to unhealthy software development practices (why worry about memory consumption when the product isn't go to ship for another 2 years? ...) and instead move developers into a mindset that their software should almost constantly be of ship quality.

    Agile development also allows the quality of the software to be under constant incremental improvement. But this has a downside as well: it becomes very hard to pick a point in time to stop releasing patches and instead tell customers "now you have to buy a new version", especially since the next version that the company releases is "just" another incremental improvement over the previous release.

    So basically agile development practices can spell death for the "Shiny New Version" business model, and thus an alternative revenue stream needs to be found.

    Agile software allows developers to consistently and continuously release incrementally improved versions of an application. It therefore makes sense for companies to continuously pay incremental amounts for use of that software.

    Selling the concept of "it will get better over time" to who ever is making business purchasing decisions may not be easy, but in the end, if some sales person can pull it off, it will be to everyone's benefit.

    Customers will be able to have a more direct and immediate interaction with software companies, and software companies will be able to practice the software development methodologies that they KNOW they should be practicing.

    Note in my defense:
    Some people may take offense that agile software means no more big new versions, but I'd argue that it feels intuitively 'wrong' to fix a software bug that is annoying many users, but is too low priority to make the cut for a service pack, and then sit around knowing that users will not get to see this trivial fix for years, just because of the common business model that is used to sell big box software.

    Disclaimer: I'm a Microsoft employee (been on /. a lot longer than @ MS!), everything I say is my own opinion and does not reflect the opinions of Microsoft.

    (Besides, I've been here under a year and I work in mobile compilers!)
    • Hey.... many MS-Devs are slashdotters. I dont think we have anything against them, and certaintly nothing against you.

      So chill and congrats on your great job at a very rich enterprise. Hope you do well.

      Having said that.... well... ive already posted my own mind in my own comment, thank you very much.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:28PM (#23122214) Journal
    I think the connection to Onecare is an interesting touch. Microsoft, among other "enterprise" software types, has had fair success getting corporate customers paying for subscription or quasi-subscription products for a while now(Software Assurance, anything with a mandatory support contract, some site-licence flavors, etc.); but the idea rubs individual users badly. Even if the economics are actually favorable, software with a self-destruct system just doesn't feel right. People like owning stuff.

    Antivirus, though, is the closest thing to an exception(well, that and MMORPGs). People are neither happy nor efficient about it; but they often do end up paying for their subscription.

    Connecting a product whose subscription feels "natural"(virus signatures are a service, and are pay per unit time) with a product whose subscription feels "artificial"(Office suites can be priced as services; but nothing about them makes them so) is an interesting tactic. I wonder if it will work.

    Microsoft has wanted subscription software for years, so this isn't too surprising; but it may well have gained urgency from the push toward really, really cheap computers. Full upfront software cost is a hard sell on cheap hardware; but you might be able to make it palatable by stretching it into a subscription(plus, there will finally be a way to exterminate those pesky Office 97 users!).

    The idea makes me a bit nervous, though, because it points to a model of computer use very, very similar to today's cellphone model. Cheap hardware, low upfront cost; but continual, tightly controlled, nickel and diming throughout the life of the product. Unfortunately, for all the progress they have achieved, cellphones are a really miserable lesson in why the openness of the PC world is so vital.
  • by alexborges (313924) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:29PM (#23122234)
    You have to like getting fucked by a monopoly to BUY any kind of microsoft product.

    You have to be incredebly stupid, and still a total masochist, to even think about RENTING it.

    Jeesus, please save us from all this ignorance.
  • If their prices are reasonable this could prove to be a much better value for some of their existing customers, and at the same time provide a great reason for their other customers to look into OpenOffice.

    Everybody wins. Go Microsoft!

    • by poetmatt (793785)
      I'm humored you managed to use reasonable and Microsoft in the same sentence!

      Nothing like not even owning something that you pay for at the same rate as previous. Yes, that sounds like a good idea.
  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:38PM (#23122358)
    Don't do it. It spreads the "arbitrarily changing format blackhole disease."
    I've been happy with OpenOffice for several years while MS Office has produced interesting, and embarrassing, format failures between editions. One example, on a Vista laptop, tried with both Office 2003 and 2007, failed to accurately render many company Powerpoint slides that had worked with Powerpoint 2003 on XP, for important meetings. As much as one would like to dismiss MS Office users as drinking Purple Kool-Aid, a self curing problem, recognizing them as plague spreaders would be closer to the mark.
  • Code-named Albany
    Microsoft Spitzer
  • Consider Albany being the capital of NY, one of the most taxed states. All those taxes go to Albany. It is a microsoft tax
  • by AlHunt (982887) on Friday April 18, 2008 @04:45PM (#23122452) Homepage Journal
    >"There is a customer segment that really enjoys this always-on,
    >always up-to-date aspect of the service," Microsoft group product
    > manager Bryson Gordon said.

    Indeed we do. We're called Ubuntu users. The little orange icon lets us know when ANY of our programs have updates available and then DOESN'T pester the crap out of us if we don't install them right away.

    And our subscriptions are always paid up.

  • I can't believe no one else has said this one yet...

    The obligatory:

    "Nice computer ya' got there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it."

    Selling security updates as a SERVICE? It may be legal. It may make good business sense and maximize returns to stockholders, but dyn bach, it's unethical in my book.
  • This will solve piracy for Microsoft. An idea this dumb, with so many free alternatives out there, won't be worth the effort to pirate.
  • .....that this "perpetual pay" model is Microsoft's thank you to those nice ISO people for adopting OOXML?
  • Soooo, they weren't so evil after-all.

    It isn't much difference to what they ( and other companies, just to be fair ) do to enterprise customers already.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday April 18, 2008 @05:00PM (#23122662)
    Did anybody think about this updates for free aspect? It took MS 5 years to update XP to Vista. You could have 5 years of non-existent Office updates given Microsoft's recent track record -- but they'll all be for free!
  • by FliesLikeABrick (943848) <ryan@u13.net> on Saturday April 19, 2008 @12:31AM (#23125358)
    Once Albany populates the search engine indexes, it is going to be really fun looking for things locally!

    "Albany window repair"
    "Microsoft Albany repair corrupt files <technet.microsoft.com>"

    "Hot dogs in Albany"
    "Albany is about as useful as a hot dog dropped on the floor <technet.microsoft.com>"

    "Used Cars in Albany"
    "Microsoft Chairman Gates is now selling used cars after the failure of Microsoft Albany <slashdot.org>"

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