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It's Official: MS Office 10 Subscription Version 619

F.Prefect writes: "Microsoft is going to be releasing a 'subscription version' of Office 10. This version will actually stop allowing a user to create new documents after the subscription period ends. Read their press release. Although they will still offer a non-subscription version for more money, I can't help but think that Office 11 or some subsequent software package will do away with non-subscription versions entirely ..." Seeding of the .NET "cloud of services" has officially begun, it looks like. Press releases, of course, try to make you want to buy the products they're pushing, but this one is a head-scratcher. It boils down to "It works like the regular version, but you get to pay for it again this time next year, too, or it breaks!" Won't IT manager types get tired of this?
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It's Official: MS Office 10 Subscription Version

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  • You can already do that today with Word Viewer, unless you don't run Windows. And if you don't run Windows, this licensing won't help you anyway.


  • So Microsoft offers an additional option for people who want to use their software in terms different from the existing ones, and everybody just comes out and denounces them for giving their customers a choice. Yup, what a bunch of bigots on this site.

    Ah, but you're assuming people choose to buy Office; it's something most PC buyers need and assume will come with a new computer system when they pay for it. The system bundlers are going to love this, because they can bring down the immediate cost of a new system, making it more attractive to potential buyers, but this initial saving is offset by the MS subscription fee. This is Microsoft shifting the traditional Wintel tax from the high initial purchase cost of a system to a more `spread out' model of payment.

    So prices come down for computer buyers, system builders get to sell more systems, and MS assure themselves a revenue stream without having to stuff more bloaty features into their software to sell it. I'm not really sure what I think about it really :-)
  • I have been a long time supporter of Microsoft. I worked in several heterogeneous networking environments, using Solaris, Netware, Linux and NT. This new wave of licensing starting with the current 'Office' product, is irritating. Speaking from an 'IT Type's' point of view, it is making me seriously consider moving users to Linux. Sure it may take a bit more time to configure the desktops to be a little easier for them to use. Sure they may have to 'actually' sit and learn what it is the software does on the computer.

    Oh wait that's right, that isn't possible. I forgot, Microsoft holds us by the balls. Why? Because in today's world and society, sales people are hired for their selling skills not their computer and technology skills. Administrative people would rather use a notepad and a calculator than learn how to use a computer properly. And it isn't like we IT guys are asking them to learn how to use Linux (yet) just windows.

    They can't even 1) take the time to learn the second most brainless OS there is, #1 still being MacOS without the shell. 2)Have the want or desire to learn the OS, at least basics. Again I am not asking them to start scripting, editing the registry, or creating custom kernels.

    I think where the problem starts is at the corporate level, there should be a requirement that sales people and administrative folks that work in the IT industry, ought to have an interest toward that industry, otherwise go work at a law office or a retail co.

    Make way for the people that have a passion for this industry, the people that seek out learning and growth. If you are one of those people but are making an effort to learn and grow, kudos to you. Good to have you. If you are one of those people and are not making an effort and are instead helping to make our industry mediocre and ineffective, and are doing nothing to learn and grow and you don't think this pertains to you, read it again.

    Sorry all, felt like ranting and raving like a madman! ;-)
  • Yack it up. If you go to www.Sun.com and click on StarOffice you will see "download the source".. that link is broken.. yah! I wanted to see the internal Sun tree of StarOffice and the GPL Opensource tree.
  • last time I checked our society wasn't built by God, it was built by man and it was built to withstand the lowest of human scum. If we were all to become conivingly self interested overnight (like some great advocation of capitalism) it is desired that society will still survive. Foundation is the key word here. Who wants to live on a concrete stump? But without it your beautiful house won't survive.

    Now there are some people who don't like to hear the word virtue. They beleive that it associates the word "good" with "special" people and "ordinary" with everyone else. Is a begger a bad man because he does not give to others? No, then why should I be considered a bad man for not giving welfare? But these people go one step further. As far as they are concerned giving to the poor just removes the begger's motivation to improve his lot in life.
  • If they price it correctly, consumers will start using this. As soon as the first glitches appear (ie: someone that have paid and is not able to write its document, a machine that crash and the application that is unusable after the OS re-install, someone that honestly forgot to renew its subscription, etc, etc) customers will be increadibly upset.

    This won't stop so-called 'piracy', but will annoy regular customers, like protection on old software.

    And given the great compliance of successive versions of Orifice, it will be fun, whern someone have to dig an old version of Office2K in 5 or 6 years to read a document, and find that it won't work anymore.

    The last, and most frightening, problem is that at any time, M$ will be able to stop renewing the subscription and push customers onto a different product in a rigid time frame. And if your documents are not supported on the next version, then though luck: you won't have much time for the migration... Imagine if M$ was able to make all current installs of NT to stop working to force people on W2K...



  • Some people here are making a good confusion between services and applications. Let's put the points in the ii's ok?

    One point is that Microsoft pretends to deliver a connection to a service. You wanna write a PowerPoint doc and the program is 15 hops away in a "application provider".

    The other one is that you have a program running on your hardware that Microsoft delivers to you.

    There is a big difference on what ownership means here. On the first point it is someone else who's doing the job you need. You send commands and get results. That's the same as the old Time-Sharing services, once popular with mainframes and terminals. Someone offers you resources and you pay for them. Either by the completness of the service or on a time fee basis. And that was practice until PC's came in. Here Microsoft has absolute right to charge you this way because you only use their property - hardware and software. this thing delivers you a service and you pay according to owner's offers.

    Now on what concerns the second point. You own a piece of hardware. And someone delivers a program to be used on it. A program is mostly a set of commands that give your computer instructions to act in a specific way. Now you own this piece of hardware. And someone delivers you the instruction set in a time fee basis. Isn't here some nonsense? You are paying a rent so that your computer may perform a task? Why you can't buy it? Why you should be obliged to pay fees to have the right to use something you own? Why you should stick to their rental plans to use your own property? Here Microsft is tremendously wrong as it is sticking your right to use your own property to its conditions. It would look much like someone renting your the right to use toothpaste so that your toothbrush does the job it was meant to.

    What Microsoft is doing is to kick us back 20 years ago when PC's came up. When the PC came into stage it was considered as the freedom of the user as finally people had the right to own computers. Now Microsoft is revoking you this right, as making the instruction sets a rent, it is forcing you to disown, somehow, your computer. Yo don't control it anymore. You either accept Microsoft's terms or you have it as furniture. A very smart move. I wonder if suddenly Microsoft would start to claim that you own no more the box on your desk...
  • How many buffer overruns does it take until it becomes clear that the QA and testing that Microsoft does on its products is perennially insufficient?

    And you think that StarOffice is better in this regard how exactly?
  • It's amazing the extent to which the big guys, Sun, IBM - don't get it when it comes to downloads. Did they ever try eating their own dogfood? I doubt it. There is no excuse for not providing regular ftp links.
  • Get the regular version, instead of the subscription one, in the first place.
  • by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Monday November 20, 2000 @06:17AM (#613429) Homepage
    The market is stagnant. What new/brilliant/whatever features has any word processor put out in the last five years? The only new things I can think of are import/export filters, and a new document format that's incompatible with the old one. Word processors are essentially a commodity product now. The only problem is, there aren't being charged like one. Microsoft isn't the only one to blame, either. All of the proprietary word processors are like that. Anyway, the upgrade cycles on these things are nuts, and totally useless anyway.
  • by MathJMendl ( 144298 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:52PM (#613436) Homepage
    Maybe now they'll also allow it to stop crashing after the subscription period ends.
  • by kerz ( 1799 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:53PM (#613438) Homepage
    I think this won't last long. You'll see the same type of apps build on top of Mozilla for free, and people will realize what they are missing....
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:53PM (#613439) Journal

    Let the experiment begin.

  • The difference, of course, is that your RedHat system won't stop working if you refuse to pay up. It will stop updating itself automatically, but it won't give you the game over light when you try to save changes to your existing documents. You could even upgrade the box yourself, by hand, if you needed to.

    People who stop sending money to Microsoft will find that they have turned their computer into an expensive boat anchor. They will also find out that their data is now locked into Microsoft's proprietary format, and the only thing that the can do is open it (for viewing) and print it.

    Free Software doesn't give your software provider nearly the leverage that closed source commercial software does. RedHat can't do anything that would take away your right to run the software that you are currently running. Microsoft, on the other hand, will soon have that power. This is fine with me. As the copyright holders of the software they have the right to license it however they want. However, I can't imagine putting my data in Microsoft's hands, especially considering the fact that there are alternatives.

  • Touche.

    This typo may explain why some people responded to my post as if I had called them Godless heretics doomed to rot in Hell. Using MS software won't do that to you.

    Yet, anyway. ;-)

  • of course not everyone will be running win2k - at first. But if MS makes it a REAL pain in the ass to upgrade on an NT machine, that's more incentive for the customer to buy a win2k license. AND, a new box, of course, which keeps their buddies at Intel happy.
  • I doubt it will stop crashing...

    From CNet [cnet.com]: Office 10 will offer five new document recovery tools that will strive to correct the instabilities found in previous versions of Office (and Windows) that resulted in wasted time and lost documents because of hung machines, spontaneous rebooting, mysterious error messages, and system crashes.

    Rather than improve stability, they reduce the damage caused by instability. Why didn't they just direct those resources directly at improving stability?

  • They've been coming up with a new version every 2 years, and companies feel compelled to upgrade just to get the bug fixes when the new version comes out. Divide the money for office over 2 years, and you have a yearly fee.

    Who it's gonna hurt are us poor schmucks that use it at home...

    Oh wait... Isn't that an argument for StarOffice?
  • Well, let's see. If you have all your corporate documents for 2001 1n Word v.10 format and the lease expires ... how are you going to use your data?

    This amounts to forced upgrading, and presumably, clients should not be required to pay repeatedly for using data they generated themselves.

  • how about cut-paste, or save-as-rtf/html?
  • You miss the point. With Eazel, the software doesn't cost money. The service costs money. If Microsoft came out and said "Office from now on will be free, but we have a service you can buy on a yearly basis to keep up-to-date", that would be a totally different story. All free software services are services in addition to the product - things that are (1) a commodity, because anyone can perform them, and (2) something that users would have trouble doing on their own.
  • The source and binaries are easily downloaded here:

    http://www.OpenOffice.org/dev_docs/source/download .html [openoffice.org]

    These are the source and binaries for StarOffice 6 (devel version, but very stable).
  • ...but not save. Thus you can't create new documents, and you can't revise old ones. How useful is that? How often do you find yourself opening up old documents just to look at them? Personally, I never do -- I might open an occasional oldie so I can rewrite part of it or something, but I never just reminisce over old documents. Locking out that feature *does* cripple the software -- I'd say people *did* read it, and are rightfully annoyed by what they saw.

  • Am I the only one who thinks this may be designed to fail? It sounds to me that they are really talking about the "rental" option to satisfy the PHBs and the analysts, who have been talking about this for many years, but they are pricing it in a way that will incent people to go with the standard license. Remember Windows Terminal Server, which was priced much higher than Winframe and really designed to steer people away from the "thin client" architecture? I think this is the same idea.
  • Hmmm, when I went, the educational discount on Office was still over $100. Here is a little hint, those gold discs you bought, those are called pirated copies. Next time, when a guy has a hand painted "University Bookstore" on the trunk of his car, he is NOT legit.

    Bryan R.
  • when my account was new, and i metamodded, i got karma points for metamodding, but there are a limited number of points to be had this way, as others have mentioned.

    i'm not sure that you ever get points for being metamodded by someone else, though.

  • Sun could re-license OpenOffice all they want. However, they can't take away my right to distribute the version of OpenOffice I downloaded under the terms of the GPL.

    In other words, they could theoretically release the next version under a closed source commercial license. However, they couldn't force all of the people that had the GPLed version to give back the source. So development would almost certainly continue on the GPLed branch, and it would compete against Sun's proprietary branch. In fact, Sun's branch would probably be ignored altogether.

    That really is the beautty of the GPL. In essence the end user has nearly as many rights as the copyright holder. You are no longer at the mercy of your software vendor. If you don't like the service, you can switch to a different vendor, and your new vendor will still have access to the source code.

  • We don't pay twice for software. We buy all our machines license-free, then apply our corporate Ghost image (NT 4 with IE 5.01 and Office 2000) to the box. Enterprise licensing lets you do that if your hardware vendor will cooperate.

    Your ability to get license-free systems, though, depends on the size of the organization you work for. Larger companies generally have that option, but using the "small business" division of a major manufacturer (like Dell, Compaq, or Gateway) will force you to take OEM software.

    Of course, virtually all white box systems are available stripped of license as well.

    In the end, the best revenue maximization for Microsoft would come from a mix of retail and subscription-based licensing - it ensures steady revenue with the addition of revenue spikes clustered around new releases. A subscription-only model prevents the revenue lows (when all your new products are delayed and there's no new upgrade revenue in sight), but it also prevents the highs for the same reason.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • I hate to put a definitive statement out that I can't weasel away from when I am proven wrong, but I don't see this flying very far. My company loathes contractual obligations that go beyond three years. The idea of being tied to a piece of software would scare the living daylights out of our management.

    Who I see this working for is the giant Borgesque corporations who don't want to worry about rolling out upgrades. These type of corporations don't live and die by their IT budget like middle and small sized companies do, so they just add the 'subscription fee' to their budget and life goes on.

    But seeing that steady income really won't amount to too much compared to the middle-sized company market, I see this as a service that gets tucked away somewhere and is barely used (sort of like leasing a phone from the phone company, you can do it, but why would you?)

    I don't care one way or the other, as I am an avid wordpad user. If I need nifty features, I can pop into Kinko's with my .txt file and do the whiz-bang on it and print. Otherwise, it isn't a big deal.

    I've used StarOffice for a bit, but I really didn't like it. Just a bit too cumbersome, but I like the concept.

  • Microsoft holds no one anymore hostage than Standard Oil. You want to drive a normal car, you buy gasoline. You want to operate a normal business computer, you run Office. Heaven forbid anyone pays $10/month for productivity software! There goes the EverQuest budget!

    Software is not like gasoline. Microsoft does not have to do more production to give me another year's use out of my software. With gasoline, standard oil has to produce every single bit of gas I use. With software, its totally different.

    If you truly think this is a bad model of doing business, please don't pay that cable/dss bill this month. Yet again, this is totally different. A valid comparison would be "if you think this is a bad model, don't pay for watching videos you've previously recorded". I record T.V. shows. If I cancelled my subscription to cable, I would still have all of my existing T.V. shows, and be able to fully use them. Making faulty comparisons is at the heart of the current problem with software an "intellectual property" in general.

  • Oh well, maybe I won't have to have a pirated PowerPoint on my harddrive for the one or two PPT attachments I open a year.

    Actually Microsoft has a free PowerPoint viewer (and Word viewer, and Excel viewer) for that kind of purpose.

    Frankly, I don't see the need to upgrade from '97 to any future version, since they finally standardized on a file format. There's a push at my employer to upgrade everyone to Office 2K... despite the fact that maybe one or two people will use a new feature in Office 2K.

    Sigh, damn lemmings...

  • This is horrible, just horrible!

    Some other software companies have done simillar in the past, with a form of activation key to make the software work. The ones I've worked with have been annoying, particularly when attempting to recover from a system failure. They always cause annoyance when some software you need to use doesn't want to work anymore, usually when not needed.

    I once had my SMTP system stop runnning due to it expiring, and the supplier was in a timezone 8 hours behind, meaning I was effectivly out of action for a day. There was nowhere indicating when it expired, and the person who installed it hadn't made notes.

    Timebombed software (except demonstration or pre-release) is pure evil, and must be destroyed.

  • by dcs ( 42578 ) on Monday November 20, 2000 @05:02AM (#613515)

    The plan is not getting users to buy subscriptions. They'll sell this to computer makers, to be bundled with desktops and notebooks. This way, they force the users to either renew or buy Office after one year.

    And this won't be a problem for the computer makers, because they won't _have_ any option. First, it will be cheaper, naturally. Second, Microsoft will railroad any opposing makers into accepting it. For instance, by simply not offering the unlimited version at lower prices.

    It's brilliant.

    /me pats pats his FreeBSD

  • No, I encourage everyone I know to write everyting to a plain text file first. Then, if they need further formatting, to copy the file, open the copy in Word and format it from there.

    This advice after witnessing dozens of people lose hours of work when Word documents suddenly self-destruct.

    Hint to Microsoft: try not to write unreadable data to the file.

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • That's funny, I believe that is almost precisely what the old IBM Mainframe gurus used to say about PCs. For years the mantra was "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." And then suddenly the old mantra was 100% completely untrue. Even closer to home we probably all remember a time when WordPerfect was the undisputed king of word processors, and Lotus 1-2-3 was the spreadsheet.

    If there is one thing that is a truism in the world of computers is that the least expensive option that is "good enough" eventually wins out. Linux probably isn't to the point where it is "good enough" for most people, but it is getting there fast, and it certainly is inexpensive. OSes and operating systems will eventually be a commodity, despite all of Microsoft's tricks.

  • Sorry, but "monopolistic behavior" is not the same as the network effect.

    A network effect is simply a trend. Monopoly requires the lack of alternatives.

    You seem to forget that many people don't even load Windows/Office. They get it preloaded on their PCs...

    Yeah, so what though. You dont have a right to buy a computer from Compaq, or Dell, or whoever. I buy all mystuff OEM plain box, and assemble it myself. Then I put Be on the desktops and FreeBSD on the servers. Its rather simple. Alternatives exists, just not as many easy-to-use, friendly enough, pre-loaded types.

  • That's right. I only use word for the import filters when abiword won't handle something right, and I'm going to spite MS by waiting until that 50th application start to . . . uninstall and reinstall. I've estimated that at about 100hours uptime, assuming I start word once per reboot (amazing! It takes about 100 hours for w2k to become seriously fubared), I won't have to worry about it for another 6 months.
  • I agree, but try selling that concept to parents and governors who don't really understand (yet think they do).
  • > Dont accept documents made in Office. Dont work with partners who use Office documents. Dont take customers who use Office.

    And how long would you work for a company if you took that kind of attitude? I was referring to a business environment where being uncooperative is usually frowned upon. I'm not a consultant who can afford to piss off customers, nor the CEO of a company who can dictate the standards. So I use what I need.

    For me personally at home, I use the Word viewer, etc, and that works just fine.

    But my original point was that Microsoft was arrogant enough to make OFfice 97 documents break Office 95 documents... I wouldn't put it past them to do something like that again, especially when the subscription model becomes a lot more common.

  • Absolutely not, and it was a big controversy at the time. There was absolutely no reason for it other than Microsoft screwing with customers. Not only that but they also slightly altered the OLE Automation interface, so code to operate Office 95 apps wouldn't work on Office 97.

    Again, they did this for no other reason than to force some people to upgrade.

  • If you're a school or other educational institute (except for a 'Microsoft Office school'), I see no reason why you should use these expensive products in your curriculum. Schools should not teach how to use a specific product (be it Microsoft Office, StarOffice or Emacs for all I care), they should teach how to indicate 'problems' ('how do I get this information to the intended recipient'), find the means to solve those problems ('why, I can write a letter to do that'), find tools which can be used ('hmmm, Emacs looks like it can handle this job :-)') and use those tools to solve the problem (write letter, save file, print file).

    So why not use a cheaper, more open toolset in school? If business feels a need for Microsoft Office courses, they'll gladly provide them to their employees. Why standardize on Microsoft Office in school? I learned to read from simple books, books which I never read anymore. I learned to use a computer using a Commodore 64 and could easily adapt the gained insight to other systems.

    Give your student a Microsoft Office course, and (s)he'll be able to use Microsoft Office. Teach them to use information processing equipment and they'll be able to use anything and everything...
  • Well, this is the big chance for StarOffice. If the StarOffice crowd can get Microsoft Word compatibility to work really well, despite having to figure out how to emulate bugs in Microsoft Word, that could be a big moment.

    It would be worth offering the word processor from StarOffice separately (as StarWord?) for people who don't want the rest of StarOffice or its attempt to be a desktop.

  • Basically, it's all a big boondoggle to sell ActiveDirectory, and unseat Novell. (NDS).

    Once ActiveDirectory gets established in this role, it will be nearly impossible to shake it loose - even if they split MS 8 ways till Sunday.
  • any company that stands squarely behind UCITA is ``venial''

    venial NOUN :Roman Catholic Church An offense that is judged to be minor or committed without deliberate intent and thus does not estrange the soul from the grace of God.

    Hmmm.... This is an interesting charge. I am not used to dealing with subtle theological issues on slashdot. Is the author concerned that a company does not estrange it's soul from the grace of God? (i.e. Bill Gates)

    or perhaps the author meant

    venal ADJECTIVE :1. a. Open to bribery; mercenary: "a venal police officer." b. Capable of betraying honor, duty, or scruples for a price; corruptible. 2. Marked by corrupt dealings, especially bribery: "a venal administration." 3. Obtainable for a price.

  • by tagishsimon ( 175038 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:19PM (#613578) Homepage
    Au contrere, mon ami. We like free speech and free beer; and dislike licensing models which we find laughable.

    I guess - if you pushed them - the posters in this thread would state their belief that they think MS has a big problem: why should users continue to pay to upgrade MS applications, when there is as near as damnit no difference between one Word version and the next. We guess that MS thinks, "a ha! if we can get the user to hire the application rather than buy it, we have revenue for life".

    Even the press release - bless it - gives the game away. They speak of "at a lower initial cost" which begs the thought that the lifetime cost will be greater.

    And the conspiracy theory? I think it is reasonable to speculate that MS would like to be a service company rather than a product company - especially in a marketplace in which the commoditisation of products is driving price.

    We don't think MS is stupid. We know they are very clever indeed - especially at the business of business models. And the subscription business model is clearly more attractive than the "I'm happy with my Office 2000 and don't feel inclined ever again up pay to upgrade".

  • What is the big problem with subscription-based software like Office 10? I mean, it's kind of like the idea of leasing a computer, except you aren't just throwing money away through not being able to resell the software when you're done with it, because you wouldn't be able to (legally) resell the software anyway. New version comes out, your lease just happend to expire yesterday, go buy the cheap new version. Could someone explain what the problem with that is?

  • They'll make a killing on this if they offer this to home/non-commercial users as part of a subscription to MSN. For example, an extra $5/mo might get you the entire office suite. This might not seem like a lot, BUT:

    o A reasonable price would deter people from pirating the software
    o It's an immense value-add for MSN
    o It's the perfect entry for a "desktop anywhere" feature, which would put your documents at your service via ANYPLACE you login.

    Here's the best part: make this available for X-Box users. Suddenly, the kid's toy becomes a VERY inexpensive replacement for the computer. AND Microsoft will get a handy stream of revenue. If they sell 10 million X-boxes in a couple of years... and even 5% of those end up with a subscription to MSN and Office at $25/mo, we're talking about $150million/year. US alone. AND they'll dominate the browser, 'cause it's their platform.

    There's more: How fast can HP or Epson write a app for the X-Box to use their digital cameras with it? Scanners? Will it have a firewire port? How about hooking up the camcorder? DVD player, right? I've heard it's going to support HDTV resolutions - so if it's done right, it'll be on every videophile's list too, especially if someone writes their own HD-DVD format - just upgrade the software DVD player!

    The possibilities really are endless with this one... by Microsoft creating the hardware, and the OS, they're doing what IBM wish they had done back in 1980-81 with the IBM-PC. By providing the subscription to the software, they're giving themselves a constant revenue stream for years to come.

    It gets more and more interesting EVERY DAY.

  • .NET/asp targets a specific market which I don't deny probably exists. That being said, I do not believe this type of solution will be now or ever the one-and-only.

    First, the headache for maintaining so many damned subscriptions, keeping them active, managing accounts and passwords will drive IT managers nuts

    Second, it's the DivX dilemma--see how useful all those DivX pay-per-use DVDs are now? Great coasters. If MS ever stops supporting this model, everyone will be up a creek without a license key. Admittedly, probably not a terrible concern with MS, but it will limit the ASP model.

    More importantly, this will last in each company until the exact time that some Exec is travelling and his license expires over the atlantic on the flight out while he's drafting the next business plan or whatnot. After some serious shouting and lawsuit-threatening, each company will give the subscription model a one-fingered salute.

    Does the .NET/subscription model rely on internet connectivity to check to see if it's allowed to run? can we say, nightmare? internet bandwidth issues, connectivity, and your reliable problems with the proxy server or the firewall or some schlob stepping on the pipe into the router will not only effect normal levels of productivity--in/outbound email, refreshing slashdot, reading the Onion, etc., it will also kill-if this is how it works[1]-kill all productivity--no Visual C++ compiling, no word processing, no powerpoint. (hey, maybe this will be a good thing...). This won't be popular.

    This also brings up an interesting idea--I type up a work in Word 10/subscription, then my subscription runs out. Can I still even read my work? Will WordPad handle it, or has MS rescinded my access to my own work??

    [1] and I can't think of another reliable way. I imagine a digital-sig based handshake that avoids the problem with local settings controlling access (easily crackable/patchable), and if it defaults to allow, well, duh.
  • by llywrch ( 9023 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:22PM (#613587) Homepage Journal
    > Open source advocates are always talking about the virtue of choice, but when MS offers choice, they cry foul. How convenient.

    So, either you can pay MS once, or you can pay them every year. Gosh golly Captain Wizzbang, what will they think of next??? Maybe they'll add a paperclip on crack as their next feature . . .

    Being told ``you can pay us so much now, or you can pay us the same amount each year" is not a choice. Unless you are braindead & need more than 5 seconds to decide between the two options.

    > And don't come out with the crazy conspiracy theory that "Office 11 will be subscription only". First of all, it attributes to MS a
    > level of stupidity they simply lack. And there is simply not basis for that statement.

    Interesting. Leaked memos have been available for a couple of years showing that Billg & Ballmer have seriously entertained this concept. After all, their End User Agreements state that you have NOT bought the software, just leased the right to use the binary. And if UCITA passes in your jurisdiction, be sure that they will change the terms of the contract.

    And have you ignored the fact that MS requires companies with site licenses to pay for their software *twice*? Once for the concenience of having it pre-installed, & once for blowing it away so that the tested, & corporate-approved version can be installed. A quick search on Gogle turned up this URL: http://www.canada.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-2427307 .html

    As for the charge of ``stupidity", I think the better word describe any company that stands squarely behind UCITA is ``venial".

    MS is seeing the numbers of sales begin to slide; migration from NT to Win 2000 is far less than what Gartner & others predicted. So MS has to get the revenue from somewhere. Which means this braindead licensing choice. And if they DON'T force theri customer base to migrate to a subscription basis, then they ARE stupid.

  • by ZanshinWedge ( 193324 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:22PM (#613588)
    A lot of business have begun leaning in the direction of "application service providers" (ASPs) instead of product makers. In many ways it is very tempting for a business to do this. For one, you retain more control over your product (partly through stronger contracts), for another you create a source of continued income instead of a single payment. This can allow for a higher profit margin (since income is periodical and not tied to product releases / new-product development you can keep charging for a product even after you've stopped development (and thus have less development costs)).

    Microsoft has been doing a pretty good job of tweaking their products just enough to get people (and businesses) flocking to upgrade even with very little new development. Windows 98 SE and Me upgrades from Win98 cost the same as the Win98 upgrade from Win95, but there is much less development in them. Same price, less work, higher profits. Nothing new. Although in many cases the "less work" usually comes with higher productivity (so the end product is the same quality), but it doesn't seem like this will be the case.

    Anywho, the advantage of services instead of products for the consumer is that (theoretically) setup, installation, upgrades, support, etc. are easier. However, (as mentioned above) services come at a significant loss of "rights" for the consumer. Ownership is very powerful, and in many ways very desireable. When you rent something you loose control over it and it's no longer yours entirely. In the next few years there will be a major "shakedown" of what people choose to be services and what people choose to own.

    Personally, I think the service model (for some uses) is very valid, but I also worry about the transfer of rights and powers from the public to the big corporations. I think that ultimately most people won't want to give up their ownership of basic software, and (perhaps more importantly) there will be a large base of free or purchasable software out there keeping the big guys' services in check to keep things from getting out of hand. I suppose we will just have to wait and see, but it's bound to be interesting no matter how it plays out, let's just hope it's not too interesting.

  • But the choices offered are fundamentally different. Microsoft is offering customers a new way to pay for their software. They are still not allowed to do anything that they couldn't do before with a different method of payment. With open source software, the choice is not how to pay for it, but what to do with it (although there are arguably more ways to pay for open source software than for Office).
  • IT managers will love it. Pay once for the software. In a year, when it runs out, get the next version.

    You'll never have to pay for the upgrade fees to go from one to the other (which, seemingly, would cost more money).

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:23PM (#613591) Homepage
    Why is this bad?

    All righty then, Mr. Smarty Pants, why is it good? What extra service does the "rent" (vs. own) get you? What is it that would make me "buy" this rather than a version that doesn't auto-destruct? MS claims this is "an exciting new opportunity" -- for who? Their bankers?

    There's exactly one reason this will be accespted in the market, if it is at all:

    This new model will enable home and small-business customers to acquire the latest version of Office at a lower initial cost while receiving product upgrades released during their subscription at no additional expense.

    So, I get it cheaper, but I gotta pay next year. I suppose this is actually Microsoft trying to compete with the Warez market. They ship "works" with a lot of prefab PCs these days. So what happens then? I'll wager that, a lot of the time, people bring home Office CDs from work and/or get them from friends. For free. With no subscription fee. So, if they can go legal and get upgrades automatically for less than paying retail for the thing, then they might. Plus, I can see the MS playing out this way: "Computers are hard to keep working right! Upgrades, patches, work, work, work! Pay us and they'll always work right. Friendly MS agents will visit your computer through your spiffy DSL line and make sure you always have the latest, greatest, bug-free stuff." They'll turn "Windows Update" into a revenue stream.

    I wonder what the per-seat issues will be for business and/or homes? Renewal is annual, not one number-of-documents, as far as I can tell. So, if I install in on my wife's laptop and my desktop, so I subscribe twice? I don't subscribe twice to cable, or the newspaper.

    Open source advocates are always talking about the virtue of choice, but when MS offers choice, they cry foul.

    Oh, puhlease. MS is offering the same software in either case, merely with two different payment options. One, the traditional "costs too much" payment option, and two, the "ransom" option. The whole idea of software as a service is sort of ludicrous.

  • The article reads that you can't create *new* documents, not that you can't continue working on and reading existing ones (which would be real annoying, maybe even a little bit too annoying for a Microsoft Product. However, after Clippy the Paperclip you can never be sure: they might as well pull off this one!)

    So supposedly, if you create 100 empty documents (or containing just some bogus text) you can continue using/editing those?
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:26PM (#613595) Homepage
    LOL! A browser-based word processor written in XML. Bloat-O-vision! I imagine Intel came up with that scheme to sell more processors. Want MozillaWord to run as fast as Word 5.1 ran on a Macintosh Centris? Get the new Pentium 7, now available at 18GHz with 40MB L1 cache!

  • by Monty Worm ( 7264 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:27PM (#613596) Journal
    Think through the psychology of this for a while.

    • When are Microsoft going to ship Office 11?
    • What's the cost of a years subscription, relative to a full license?
    • Where's the break even point?
    • If I choose to subscribe to Office 10, do I auto-subscribe to Office 11?
    • Can I subscribe individual components (say Word and Excel, but not PowerPoint?
    Microsoft seem to be hoping that people won't work out how long they'll resubscribe for, and may make additional funding on the difference. You know many people aren't going to do the long term thinking here - they'll just see a lower initial price.

    See Rob's comments in Geeks in Space as regards rental of his TiVo - he's coming up against a break-even point of rental vs purchase - he'd hoped that a better version would be available so he could change for less money....

  • Might wanna read that again:

    If customers do not renew or install an upgrade product, they can still open, view and print their existing documents.

    Open, view and print. Nothing said about editing.

  • My, God, man! Are you insane? How is this different than paying 3 times as much for something you'll eventually have to upgrade anyway? If you pay, say, $1000 per year, or $3000 up front, is it really that big of a deal?
  • 50 ms office app startups - hmmm - lets see, that's about 5 saved files and about 30 keypresses total, as I estimate it.

    not sure I could even get a single homework paper done before I have to pay again..


  • Hey folks, this is nothing new in the software business. Go try to buy a copy of Oracle and you'll have an option to buy a perpetual license, a 2-year license, or one of a few other options.
    And, you know what? If I were running a startup, or a medium-sized business that wanted to do a massive roll-out all at once, I'd much rather use a subscription model than try to come up with all that cash at once.
    The people who really risk getting another blow are the retailers and resellers who currently sell MS software. They've already been hit really hard by direct sales, direct downloads, and online merchants, but the subscription path builds much more direct ties between the vendor (MS) and the consumer, so that the buyer doesn't have to go to any store to renew or upgrade in the long run. For now, they're offering an option to buy another subscription license at retail outlets in an attempt to keep up some relationships with these folks. But the whole business plan, in the long run, really cuts the middleman out of the market.
    Eliminating the middleman would, in general, be positive for consumers, but the lack of competition just gives Microsoft a chance to sop up those margins for itself. Right now, for instance, buying direct from MS is usually the most expensive option, since they sell almost everything at full MSRP.
    Of course, it's too early to predict what exactly their pricing strategy will be in the long run. Corel and some other potential ASPs have been floating rumors about pricing on a feature-by-feature, use-by-use basis rather than a simple annual model.
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:29PM (#613609) Homepage
    Ah, but you see, the PC2001 specification will include a credit-card reader! The box will actually say "INSERT COIN TO CONTINUE" and will have a progress meter* counting down the seconds. You see, Bill actually wants to return us all to they heyday of computing he grew up in. That's right. The video arcade. .NET is actually "MS Return of Arcade," without pacman.

    *counts backwards in years

  • I don't think you need network connectivity to MS to do periodic licensing. When I pay for a one-year license to use Word 37, Microsoft sends me a cryptographically signed certificate that says "This certificate good for one concurrent Word 37 user until January 1, 2003." When the user starts Word 37, it checks a file somewhere to determine that 1. the certificate has a valid signature, 2. the use period has not yet expired, and 3. the license isn't being used.

    For a single user with a Windows PC, the certificate would be stored locally, while for a multiuser workgroup, there would be a central license manager service which hands out floating licenses. To making duplicating licenses inconvenient, they could be "branded" with specific characteristics of the client machines, so that a license purchased for machine X cannot be copied to machine Y. Yes, this would be annoying, but it's already being done with OEM versions of Windows.

    Of course, this scheme is vulnerable to various attacks, including removing the license checking code or replacing MS's public key with your own in the signature check. However, such schemes to circumvent the license agreement require more work than simply typing the same CD key for multiple installations. Moreover, most of these schemes are obvious "wilful violations" of the license agreeement rather than simple carlessness (think DMCA and triple damages). Most users, especially those big enough to fear an audit from the BSA, would probably comply.

    Eeewwww... having pondered such things, I feel an urgent need for a shower with lots of soap.
  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @04:09PM (#613612) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft is going to be releasing a 'subscription version' of Office 10. This version will actually stop allowing a user to create new documents after the subscription period ends.

    So day 1 you make an empty document of each type and archive it ..... from then on you just duplicate empty documents on the desktop rather than using office to make them for you .... or better yet - download those warez empty documents from the net ..... can you just see M$ going to court trying to ban the giving away of empty documents .... :-) "but your Honor - they're a device designed to 'subvert an access mechanism'" - "in rebutal - 'we made them with Windows - it's time it was banned'"

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:29PM (#613614) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft operates as a series of individual business units. While that gives them the maximum flexibility to try new things, it also means they often have to learn the same lesson more than once.

    Take subscriptions for instance. MS Visual C/C++ wanted to go that model, as many programmers here may recall. "Buy 4.0 and subscribe to MSDN, you'll get 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, every three months like clockwork." Well, the versions came out... 4.0, 4.1, slip, 4.2, slip, slip, slip, uh, 6.0!

    By going to a subscription model, they give the user false impression that the product will continue to advance on a rigid schedule. There's no way to win:

    if it doesn't come out on time, the customer will feel seriously jypped at the renewal dues;

    if it DOES come out on time, the customer has to churn all those desktops' installations to keep step with the advances, or relegate the expensive updates to dusty shelfware.

    If they use some sort of lockout like cheap nag shareware, a la "It's February, you can't use the Save feature until you renew your Office subscription dues..." some people will definitely find alternatives. They'll have to keep increasing the dues as the flock of docile sheep dwindles.

  • by edibleplastic ( 98111 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:32PM (#613615)
    Universities are going to be hit the hardest with this kind of change. Not only do they have to constantly keep track of what licenses expire when for hundreds of computers, both PC and Mac (yeah KeyServers!), they have to support and maintain software on student, lab, and faculty computers. OK. Renewing MS Word on all the lab computers is a time consuming process but relatively straight forward. But renewing MS Word on several hundred faculty computers that are have been taken home, away at sabbatical, or are tucked away in individual offices all over campus is going to be HELL! And you just know that none of the faculty are going to understand why a support personel has to come in every now and then and renew software on THEIR machine that they thought was permanent, just like software has been for the past 20 years! And not only this, but all the ITS people will have to explain the subscription service to their students which means documentation, support, etc.


  • Actually there are a lot of companies which prefer this type of contract. It's nothing new to software... McAfee virus scan has been doing this for quite some time, as well as most of the Mainframe/Unix software houses for the past 20-30 years or so if not longer.

    A number of companies I've had dealings with in recent years have gone to leasing of equipment rather than purchasing it. While there is some increase in overhead in maintaining inventory lists, it decreases the overhead in accounting.

    Leasing costs can be written off immediately as a business expense, whereas capital costs have to be depreciated over a period of time(I think it's 3 years on computers?).

    I don't know how tax writeoffs work with software, but I assume similar rules might apply.

    Another thing to factor in is that this would be a guaranteed yearly charge, versus a variable charge every couple of years. Again accountants find it easier to budget around yearly charges.

    This is also why Microsoft prefers this model, as it would provide a steady revenue stream for them. Which means that Wall Street will like the plan as well.

    It's all going to depend on the price points. Most companies upgrade their office suites about once every 3 years. If the yearly lease cost is 1/3rd or less of the full purchase price, it may very well make sense. If it's only 1/2, there will be some questioning. If it's higher than 1/2, I don't think many people will accept it.

    Another benefit to IT managers is that a yearly maintenance cost on software insures you get the latest version upgrades without having to debate it much. Meaning for example, our $300k/year maintenance contract to Oracle gives us access to the latest Oracle 9i. To the IT manager, that means not having to fight a budget battle any time there is a problem that needs to be addressed by a software upgrade.

    I can't see very many small companies going this route, but to larger corporations there are many compelling reasons why they will be receptive to software leasing.
  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @04:18PM (#613625)
    This is no different from the existing terms. In fact, it's worse. Now M$ can force you to pay an arbitrary fee, and the program (and thus access to your data) won't work if you don't continue to pay. In other words, they blackmail you with your own data, and worst of all this is actually legal.

    This, more than anything, only proves that Microsoft must be stopped. They're advocating the very monstrosity they basically created: a model where you don't even own the software you buy. In the end, this is going to result in one of two things. In the most optimistic outcome, people finally realize what Microsoft is doing, and they abandon it. More likely, however, is that more corporations -and not just in the software industry- will adopt this model, and in the end we all become little more than a sort of slave class, except that instead of being forced to give them endless labor, we're forced to give them endless cash for something we've already bought and paid for.
  • Some other large software packages work like this already. Personally, I think it doesn't make much sense for a product you run on your personal computer, as opposed to something where you are actually buying services that require ongoing expenditures from the manufacturer. Still, you can see that with windowsupdate and officeupdate, they are moving to a more service oriented model, even for their pre-.NET products. The more interesting questions will be cost of a subscription, and if subscriptions include new versions. I'm sure it will cost more, but it could be that it will not be a whole lot more, and if they put in infrastructure for tracking subscriptions, it could save a lot of effort when they ask for assurance of license compliance.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    yes he has thought of that. and he has solved the problem like so:
    C:\>cp c:\mydocu~1\generic.doc ~/generic.doc
    'cp' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
    operable program or batch file.

  • Well, a phone can only be jammed up an ass so many times before it has to be thrown away.

    After the tenth Anal Exploration, the little speaker holes tend to get clogged up with shit. Even with a paper clip and some Kleenex, there's only so much you can do. The amount of shit that can be removed from the phone is calculated with this equation:

    lc / n = g
    where n is number of ass-stuffings, l is the length of the phone cord, and c is the average consistency of the Stuffer's shit. Common values for c are 5 (for average, well packed poo), 10, (for rock-hard, constipation-compressed feces), or 1 (for syruppy diarrhea with the occasional chunky, greasy fart). The quotient g is the number of grams of fecal matter that can be expected to be salvaged from the phone's inner workings without damaging the microphone or speaker. For instance, if my phone cord is 4 feet long, I've stuffed the phone up my ass 6 times, and my average shit consistency is 3 (shapely and well-formed, but rather mushy turds), I would use the equation
    g = 4(3)/6
    to determine that 2 grams of shit can be safely removed from the phone. For values of n above 12, the difficulty of shit removal overshadows the cost of a new phone, and therefore I would usually head out to Best Buy and purchase a new one after the tenth or eleventh ass-stuffing.

    Unfortnately, I doubt that ass-related damage was covered by Ma Bell's warranty, so the benefit of a subscription phone plan is negligible to the ass-stuffing phone owner. Perhaps if this phone system were still around today, Ma Bell would offer an ass-stuffer's insurance which would be more financially convenient to the ass-stuffing consumer than purchasing a new phone from Best Buy (long known to be the ass-stuffing phone enthusiast's superstore for ass-stuffing goods and services).

    Thank you. I'll have another G&T, please.

    All generalizations are false.

  • Why is this bad?

    All righty then, Mr. Smarty Pants, why is it good? What extra service does the "rent" (vs. own) get you? What is it that would make me "buy" this rather than a version that doesn't auto-destruct? MS claims this is "an exciting new opportunity" -- for who? Their bankers?

    It's good for companies like the one I work at. As soon as a new version of MS Office is released they jump right out and buy it. It they can "lease" a copy for less than an upgrade, it makes great sense. It's the same concept as companies that lease computers instead of buying them. It's cheaper to pay a continual fee and always have a newer model than having to deal with the outdated stuff. Same concept.

  • With the types of sever-side technologies available today (i.e. Java, or in Microsoft's case, C#), I think we'll eventually see ASPs relying on web browser-based applications. Even today, a subscription word processor could easily be implemented as an applet commuicating with a servlet, CGI application, or ActiveX application over an SSL connection.

    Why do I bring this up? Well, I do the majority of my non-trivial text processing in GNU Emacs, but there are situations when a copy of Microsoft Word would come in handy. When revising my résumé, for instance, although usually I write it in XHTML, many potential employers expect you to send a Word document. If I could access Microsoft Word through an applet-capable UNIX web browser, sure, I'd be willing to pay $5 for an hour's access. It's a lot cheaper than buying the $300 (or however much it costs!) full version, and even better, I don't have to worry about giving up Solaris or GNU/Linux to use it.

    I believe that eventually the WWW will be the only application platform that matters for most business users. It's Sun's "WORA" philosophy taken to a whole new level.

    I think that progress in this direction is held back by two problems. The first is bandwidth. Even if the WWW-based work processor described above were extremely modular, there's no way you could have 5000 employees using the application over a few T3's. Clearly the "buy the media and licenses" model will be around for a while, but if the bandwidth trickle-down continues at its current pace, I think this not an unreasonable goal for the next decade.

    The second problem is many UNIX programmers' reliance on old-school server-side programming methodologies. Like it or not, Java and its lightweight object-oriented brethren are here to stay. We're in the middle of a period of evolution -- much like the jump from assembler to C -- when program abstraction is moving to a new level. (I can no longer say things like "business logic" and laugh.) Unfortunately, I see a bigotry in many UNIX users towards anything but the "C/Perl CGI" model of server-side programming. Even C++ is sometimes looked down upon. These attitudes will have to change; there will always be a place for those technologies, but as web programming more fully embraces OOP (1) (and database-driven OOP apps), I see more and more server-side programming being done in Java (generally), C# (for microsoft-freaks), and C++ (when neither of the first two is fast, powerful, or flexible enough). My experiences in the last year have convinced me that this approach is not only does increase programmer productivity (less time designing, AND less time coding), but allows us to create systems of a complexity that would be unthinkable in ANSI C or Perl 5.(2)

    Perl has the foundations to make a place in this new world, but it needs better support for high-level programming, and better database support. I've spend a good portion of the past two months converting my employers old Perl scripts to Java servlets, simply because Java has better database support (gotta love JDBC connection pooling) and servlets scale much better on high-load sites than Perl CGI(3), at least with my employer's setup.

    I have faith that Larry Wall and crew can pull this off. Listen to the webcast of Larry's "Camel Lot #6" speech (4)from mid-October. C++ and Java programmers who've dabbled with Perl should enjoy the latter half of the speech.

    However you feel about Microsoft, it's interesting how long ago they saw this coming, and how well they've prepared for it. Windows 2000 will continue to kick our ass in this arena for a few years, because the operating system has capabilities that we UNIX goons need application servers (iPlanet Application server, BEA WebLogic, et cetera) for.

    Amusing... in ten years, it might not be uncommon for every worker to have a diskless X terminal feeding of a central (UNIX, GNU/Linux, NT) server, running "productivity" applications (read: Office) over the Internet with Internet Explorer 27 or Netscape 6 (grin ;-). It's amusing because that's the same model that we were supposed to have escaped when PC's got cheap and every employee had his own. (A new era of workplace surveillance? Likely. A new era of employment for UNIX sysadmins. Definitely.)

    Anyway, that's enough ranting from me.

    1. Perl isn't a good OOP language. The basics are there, but it doesn't even support encapuslation properly. This will change, however.
    2. It also allows us to create systems that can bring today's mighty servers to their knees. If I were a conspiracy theorist, and I am, I would postulate that one of Sun's motivations for spreading Java's use is that it creates a need for their monster hardware setups again. ;-) "Haha! Just try and run four JVMs on that 600MHz Athlon, kiddies!"
    3. The normal response to this is, "What about Slashdot? They use Perl and they're a high-load site!" The only reasons that Slash is able to run a site like this are mod_perl and the Arrowpoints. Mod_perl is awesome, but my employer runs iPlanet on RS/6000s, so it's not an option. True, Java is fucked above 100k HTTP connections, but that's what clustering is for, right? ;-)
    4. http://www.technet cas t.com/tnc_play_stream.html?stream_id=375 [technetcast.com]

    All generalizations are false.

  • Being told ``you can pay us so much now, or you can pay us the same amount each year" is not a choice. Unless you are braindead & need more than 5 seconds to decide between the two options.

    The announcement clearly states that the subscription fee will be lower. I don't see any difference between this and a lease. Presumably a customer that would upgrade every year anyway stands to benefit. There may be other concerns, but we'll have to see what they do.

  • This is not the same thing. With a typical subscription model, you do get 'free' upgrades (not really free since they're all part of the subscription price). Under this model, if you choose to continue using the 'old' version of the software, you can - you've paid the licencing fees, the software does not self-destruct if you let the subscription run out.

    The difference with Office 10 is that @ the end of the subscription period, the software becomes, IMO, crippled. From the press release:

    If customers do not renew or install an upgrade product, they can still open, view and print their existing documents.

    As is so often true with MS (or anyone's, for that matter) press releases, it's not what is said, but what is not said that is of issue. Note that in the above quote nothing is said about updating/saving current documents. Which, by extension, reasonably means that Office 10 (Office 2002, or whatever they call it) will be crippleware unless you pay the ransom^H^H^H^H^H^H subscription fees to continue working with your documents.

    It's probably too early to say with any certainty whether this model will actually work. I suspect not, given the dismal failure other pay-for-play models have suffered (Divx comes to mind). Paranoid or not, RMS's Right to Read [gnu.org] story serves as a cautionary tale. If you are unable to continue working with your documents because you haven't paid the fees, what other restrictions will they be willing to place on your use of your documents???

    Me? I'll continue to use AbiWord/StarOffice, thanks.

  • Im worried about what happens to documents after the subscription runs out, will you still be able to read them? will you have to keep subscribing indefinitely in order to keep reading your work? What happens if I like office 10 more than oofice 11 or 12 or 15, will MS force me to upgrade? I used Word 5.1a for the mac for 5 years because it was and still is superior to anything microsoft offers. All MS needed to do was improve the grammar checker and spelling dictionary and 5.1a would still be the best word processor out there. I think MS is just trying to force people to upgrade, moreso than they already have of course.

  • I would explain this to you, but every time I try to de-reference you, I have to run to the shitter and dump core.

  • You have to remember, this is the 21st century we are talking about. We have the technology to make your life not so nightmarish.

    I suspect that the license would be managed by a network server. Install the key once, and it gets propagated out to all your installs.

    I used to use Arc/Info back many years ago on Unix workstations and they used a licensing product called flexlm which managed this.

    It was only a pain when the network went down and I couldn't reach the license manager server.
  • by neuneu ( 232546 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:45PM (#613673)
    "This copy of MS Office failed to autodestruct. Check your Dial-Up Networking propertises and try again later."
  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday November 19, 2000 @05:25PM (#613675) Homepage Journal
    Like so many things M$, the PR sounds good. In exchange for a fee, I get an easily updated, constantly state of the art office software product. As it is a 'lease' or 'rental' as opposed to a purchase, it is now a cost of doing business as opposed to a capital improvement (or that is my understanding of the appropriate tax law). In addition, if forthcoming improvements don't exist, I end the revenue stream from my company to them.


    It will probably be a dumbed down version, no matter what. Expect even worse 'support' for other file formats. Probably some lame requirement that my subscription can't transfer to a new machine without some additional fee. I expect it to be as easy to cancel your subscription as an AOL subscription (now we know what those two are REALLY cooking up;).

    What would be most useful for my company:

    Have M$ Word substantially cheaper than Office. A whole lot cheaper. We don't use PowerPoint or Excel. It would be nice to not have to pay 50% for 20% of the functionality.

    Let us buy based not on time, but on the number of documents created. We don't even do much stuff in Word. Why pay that much for something used so infrequently?

    (Yes, yes, Star Office, Abi Word, etc. We don't have the time/money to do the training on them. And I don't have the will or desire to support them, (I'd do it alone, whereas others in the office would be willing to install/support more commercial based solutions.))

  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @04:41PM (#613685) Homepage Journal
    So long as there still is an option to purchase at a flat fee for the retail customer, subscription licensing is a nice option to have. That's basically how most larger organizations (like mine) pay for Microsoft software today - and most of our other software, too.

    I negotiate a price for the annual agreement, and the company, in turn, sends me discs (or gives me access to a download point) as long as the license is current. If we choose to extend the contract, we remain entitled to the product. If we don't renew it, we are legally obligated to get rid of it.

    This is different from OEM licenses (which we don't get with our systems, since we have a Microsoft Enterprise agreement - so we don't have to pay twice) in that OEM software is licensed to the specific PC it enters the building with, and retail software which is generally allowed for a single PC, but you have the right to uninstall it and then reinstall it on a different system. Enterprise licensing is a flat fee per seat per year that covers Windows (any version), Office (any version Professional or below - not Premium), and BackOffice CALs to access the servers. If you subscribe to Enterprise and don't renew, you legally have to buy the software through other means (though the discs they send you aren't time-bombed) in order to keep using it.

    It sounds restrictive, but it saves my company a lot of money, assuming I upgrade software every couple of years. It makes licensing a simple matter from a cost perspective, easy to track and predict, and the software we get already has product ID's burned into it so I don't have to use keys to install any of it.

    In fact, my McAfee subscription works pretty much the same way (but for two-year terms), as do several of my other enterprise-wide products (and most of our mainframe applications). All this really does is extend the model down to smaller businesses and individuals who couldn't get on these type of plans before.

    So I'd have to say I like it. So long as the traditional purchase option remains available, choice is a Good Thing.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by V50 ( 248015 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @06:37PM (#613707) Journal
    No, I use Notepad or vi for just about any writing I have to do, but then again I don't do much writing....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:55PM (#613718)
    Why would I pay again and again for a downgraded version (10) when I already own a much, much higher version (2000)? Isn't this kind of like "upgrading" RedHat 7.0 with Linux kernel 2.0?

    Sheesh. Do they really think we're THAT stupid?
  • by Leonel ( 52396 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:55PM (#613724) Homepage
    ...is the messagebox that reads : "Please save your work. This copy of MS Office will autodestruct in 10,9,8..."

  • by Estanislao Martínez ( 203477 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:57PM (#613736) Homepage
    So Microsoft offers an additional option for people who want to use their software in terms different from the existing ones, and everybody just comes out and denounces them for giving their customers a choice. Yup, what a bunch of bigots on this site.

    And don't come out with the crazy conspiracy theory that "Office 11 will be subscription only". First of all, it attributes to MS a level of stupidity they simply lack. And there is simply not basis for that statement.

    Open source advocates are always talking about the virtue of choice, but when MS offers choice, they cry foul. How convenient.

  • by multipartmixed ( 163409 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:58PM (#613759) Homepage
    ...in about, oh, one year I bet a whole bunch of pissed-off IT managers move to StarOffice on a real (Solaris/Linux/BSD/HP) platform.

    Sun should be working on an Enterprise-scale migration utility... afterall, the cutover date has just been made official.

  • by Global-Lightning ( 166494 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @05:49PM (#613764)
    Microsoft Announces "Coinbox 1.0" for Subscription Services

    Revolutionary hardware device offers home users and small-business a new choice for payment options

    LAS VEGAS -- Nov. 13, 2000 -- Today at COMDEX/Fall 2000, Microsoft Corp. announced a new hardware option to accompany subscription services for Office 10®, Millenium® and Win2000® operating systems, Outlook®, Microsoft Mouse®; which will provide customers with an exciting new opportunity to subscribe to the world's leading software products for a per-usage fee. This new device will enable home and small-business customers to acquire the latest microsoft products without the troublesome one-time up-front fee while receiving product upgrades released during their subscription at no additional expense (installation and upgrade fees not included). Customers will be able to obtain usage of Microsoft® products via a hardware device that accepts coins and bills and attaches to their computer via the serial port. Microsoft Coinbox® promises users peace of mind that their software and hardware are properly licenced and accounted for at all times. Such unheralded freedom will revolutionize the way you and your company do business.

    Here are some examples of Microsoft Coinbox in operation: Upon starting your PC, users will insert $2 to cover the licensing of the start-up sequence and the first hour of using their operating system. Users also have the luxury of pre-paying for operating system usage, up to 4 hours at a time. Being renown for our user friendly interfaces, Microsoft® includes a "parking meter" digital gauge to keep users informed of their time.

    To properly keep track of Microsoft Mouse® usage, users will insert 50 cents. Coinbox® automatically deducts 1 cent for every left-button click, 2 cents for right-button. Users will rejoice!

    The following rules will apply for Microsoft Office® products:
    Reading an Office® document: 25 cents per access
    Writing an Office® document: 35 cents per access
    Reading and writing an Office® document: 50 cents per access(note the huge saving!)

    Finally, Coinbox® will take postage for Outlook items:
    Regular e-mail: 33 cents
    Reciepted e-mail: 76 cents. Coinbox will save you annoying trips to the post office!
    Access fee for contacts®: 5 cents per usage
    Rent for Calendar®: 17 cents for a quarter hour, $4.80 for daily events (more savings!)

    Once Coinbox is installed, users need not worry about its maintenance. Through the wonders of ActiveX® technology, Coinbox® will automatically contact Microsoft Collection Services over the World Wide Web everytime it's full. A friendly Microsoft Technician will come into your office or home after-hours to empty Coinbox®. It's that simple! Coinbox is simple, user freindly, and it's a Microsoft product so you know it's secure!

    Also coming soon from Microsoft: ChangeMachine® for Coinbox®, and Coinbox® for Laptops (weighs only 15 pounds!)

  • by djrogers ( 153854 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:58PM (#613767)
    Basically all they did was put a time limit on the purchase of the regular version. It will take M$ a few more years to get to the .NET level, where the application is delivered over the Internet. Personally, I like this model more than the .NET model, I still get a CD, control over how/when/where it's installed, and no questionable off-line support.
  • by precize ( 83096 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:59PM (#613769) Homepage
    ...of the many companies providing irritating cripple-ware to consumers. Microsoft's "innovation"? Paying the "registration" fee only gets you another year. Blegh.
  • by OmegaDan ( 101255 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @02:59PM (#613772) Homepage
    The EDU versions of office2k must be registered with MS (via internet) or they stop working after 50 startups of the program ... better yet you can only register twice before the registration is "used up" ... It dosen't say any of this on the box either Luckily, you can use a non edu serial # and get the regular version ...

    I think consumers will resist the software rental model strongly ... it has no advantadges and alot of disadvantadges ... and star office is always free

  • by cribcage ( 205308 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @05:07PM (#613826) Homepage Journal
    An important question is, "Why is Microsoft doing this?" Who are they targeting with this offer: individuals, or corporations?

    Individuals will be unlikely to see a subscription program as beneficial. However, we must remember that the average computer user isn't familiar with the concept of software licensing. Most people who purchase Microsoft Office believe that they are doing just that: purchasing Microsoft Office. Of course, these people aren't going to like the idea of subscriptions, because they will see it as 'renting' that which they can just as easily buy.

    Corporations, however, understand the concept of licensing. They are quite familiar with exactly who owns Microsoft software, just as they are familiar with the fact that "bigger and better" is, in the software industry, rarely very far off.

    If Microsoft really wants to push a subscription idea, they'll start at the corporate level, and consider what they want the model to be. If they're going to institute a subscription program, they have to think beyond the initial payment. They have to consider what will keep the subscriber paying. When Individual X rents an apartment, that individual's rent entitles him/her not simply to use of the apartment space for the allotted time, but also to certain duties on the part of the landlord. If Microsoft is prepared to provide subscribers with additional support -- if that subscription fee entitles the subscriber to more than simply use of the program -- then corporations may very well decide to participate in such a program.

    Microsoft should, for instance, keep track of subscriptions and renewal deadlines itself. Leaving this burden in the lap of the customer does introduce an added difficulty, especially for companies purchasing multiple subscriptions. Microsoft should also not set a schedule for updates; instead, it should focus on maintaining operability for its subscribers, and simply provide updates and support when they become available. A magazine needs to interact little with its subscribers, who use its product once per month; a subscription for something which is used on a daily basis, however, requires regular attention. Microsoft cannot sit back and hope to collect fees once per year, but with a bit of effort they could present a subscription program that would look very attractive to some customers.

    Executed prudently, a subscription model such as this can work.

  • by uncleFester ( 29998 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @06:08PM (#613835) Homepage Journal
    More likely, however, is that more corporations -and not just in the software industry- will adopt this model, and in the end we all become little more than a sort of slave class, except that instead of being forced to give them endless labor, we're forced to give them endless cash for something we've already bought and paid for.

    uuh.. this already does happen elsewhere in the software community. Specifically, with major applications in the commercial unix world. I admin system with at least two apps with this type of license structure (HKS Abaqus [abaqus.com], MSC Patran [mscsoft.com]). Big apps in the unix world have been doing this for years. And we're talking major bucks for the licenses here.. ~$8k/seat for patran as an example. Unfortunately, it's the cost for us to get things done.

    Does that mean I like it? No. Is Microsoft justified in their actions? Well.. if other companies are doing it and doing well, why not? I don't like it (and will probably look elsewhere for my wordprocessing needs). Let's just not turn a blind eye to other software houses who are already offering their product in this fashion simply as a new means to bash BillCo.
  • by Idaho ( 12907 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:05PM (#613853)
    Oh yes, IT departments do get tired of this.

    Which is exactly why the company I'm working for is already getting ready to switch to Linux, first partly, if it works out they'll continue migrating to Linux (also for the Desktop!)

    We have used NT servers for some years, they work fine (most of the time) but they cost a lot of money! Not to mention Win98+Office 2000 etc. etc.

    Now we're already running Linux or FreeBSD on most servers, and documentation will be written in HTML instead of Word-documents. Add a word->HTML converter to be able to read Word documents sent by costumers via e-mail (in this case it usually does not really matter whether the layout exactly matches the original), and you're done.

    The big reason why I'll be allowed to use Linux on my desktop? Licensing money!
  • by seichert ( 8292 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:07PM (#613887) Homepage
    Of course anything that Microsoft proposes will immediately make the Slashdot crowd assume the idea is crap. What prejudice! This idea, of hosted services that a user pays a subscription or one-time use fee to use is excellent. I would much rather pay for Word on this model, rather than having to buy, install, and patch Office. This could work well for smaller software companies. No longer do you have to physically produce software packages and ship them to stores. Instead your customers can use their browser to access your program and pay you for it. This should make the industry much more competitive.
    What a lot of Slashdot readers who think that open source free software is the only way to go fail to realize is that many people are willing to pay for software and pay for its continued development. Is it morally wrong for corporations and others to fund the Apache Foundation? Hell no. These entities have a vested interest in the continued growth of the apache software. Likewise for many offices that type up documents and do spreadsheets they have a vested interest in the continued development of Office.

    Stuart Eichert
  • If customers do not renew or install an upgrade product, they can still open, view and print their existing documents.


    My God! Did ANYONE read the article!?

  • by BluedemonX ( 198949 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:08PM (#613890)
    M$ will track documents by serial number and PREVENT YOU from opening documents written by someone who hasn't kept up with his Office 11 bill...

    "Hey! How come I can't open the status report from two months ago?"

    "Oh, apparently they went out of business and their license for Office was revoked. If we pay a $5 fee they'll let us transfer that document to our license."
  • by edibleplastic ( 98111 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @07:56PM (#613891)
    a) not every university uses PCs (several small liberal arts colleges are practically only mac based)

    b) installs are not as simple as pushing the upgrade everbody button and having everybody change overnight. Most places are not running win2k and besides that, at any one time at least one to two people from each department are away from the university each semester. Take a university with 10,000 undergraduates, 10,000 graduates, 3 schools (business, engineering, arts and sciences), 1500 faculty (with computers at home and in offices) plus numerous associated organizations such as 3 hospitals, various research centers and the regular computer labs, and you have a huge logistic problem if people's office 2k starts randomly shutting down at various times across the university. Whoops... gotta upgrade hospital 1. Gotta get department x all set. Get the library computer labs all together. Dept y. Hostpital 2. Etc. Etc. Etc. and that is also including a good portion of them Macs as well. I'm not denying that it will be difficult for businesses, but at universities there are a lot more variables that have to be managed.

  • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <[mitchell] [at] [4guysfromrolla.com]> on Sunday November 19, 2000 @09:17PM (#613941) Homepage
    Why on earth would Microsoft begin a licensing scheme that earns less profit

    Do you not realize that profit = net income - net expenses? If you lower net income BUT lower net expenses further, your net profit increases!! If MS distributes Office over the Web only (not far away), then that saves a bundle of money on shipping/CD stamping/etc. Also, since people are paying on a per-feature basis, MS will quickly learn what features are profitable and which ones aren't. They then can stop spending time on developing features that people don't find useful enough to pay for...

  • by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason DOT nash AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday November 19, 2000 @03:17PM (#613980)
    Office is expensive, I think everyone agrees with that. Office also works well, even though it is Microsoft.

    I use Office for a number of things that I just can't get done with Abiword or StarOffice right now. My publisher uses templates that only work in MS Word, even when I'm doing something on Linux which is a whole other discussion. :)

    When a project comes up that requires MS Office something like this subscription model may work well. It may also help others that could use it, but don't want to drop $500 at one time on it. I'm not so sure how well this will be adopted to businesses. When our Internet connection goes down I hear enough complaining about no web and email, I don't want to have to worry about no Office apps for the marketing and sales department too.
  • by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Sunday November 19, 2000 @10:07PM (#613998) Homepage
    So how many people are actually submitting patches to the StarOffice source?

    Hundreds (perhaps thousands) are subscribed to the developer's lists.

    Where can I download it?


    Is there a CVS tree open?


    I remember when we all bitched and moaned that Sun had bought StarOffice and didn't release the source. Now they have released the source (I guess) and I have this terrible feeling that no-one is doing anything on it.

    With all due respect, it sounds like you don't know what the hell is going on, so I hardly think you're the best authority to claim "no-one is doing anything".

    Sun coordinated with COLLAB.NET to make sure the launch of staroffice included mailing lists, CVS archives, bug trackers, build instructions, and working source. The 60 meg source downloads and builds with zero effort if you read the very clear instructions.

    Of course, you didn't do any of that, and you didn't even bother looking at the source, but that didn't stop you voicing your damn ignorant opinion.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"