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Microsoft Postpones Office XP Subscriptions 171

shroom writes: "Microsoft has dropped the Office XP subscription plan, at least for the near future. Wonder if this means they were getting too much heat from IT managers, or if they have something else up their sleeve."
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Microsoft Postpones Office XP Subscriptions

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    American manangement doesn't trust MS? Who're u zoomin?

    MS reps drop by in their Beemers and C class wheels, and the average middle manager drools. "Wow, these guys are successful, if I buy their stuff, I can be successful, too."

    The American business model revolves around making Bill Gates the first trillionaire. Trust me bunky, XP subscription is the next killer app.

    MS will deploy their female field reps to contact the yuppie female managers. Not wanting to hurt women's chances in the workplace and to steer business to the sisters, the contracts will be signed first, then read. Trust me on this, too.

    XP will be given to female office workers. They'll spawn all sorts of incompatible files, and the men will never criticize the women for bringing in a new version without management authorization, that would be a hate crime. The men will just kill the budgets and buy their upgrades.

    XP is gonna be a big money maker.

  • As stated above, I have Win2k and IE 6 preview without the key. And after actually READING the Tech Report article and the comments on the article, you quickly learn that the key comes from Terminal Services and can be set on any MS OS. To quote an anonymous poster:

    "More than likely what has occured is that the system in question (the one that these keys appeared on) has connected to a Windows 2000 Server via MS Terminal Services or Citrix ICA. That will result in these keys appearing in the registry of any Win32 client OS (2000 Pro, NT4 WKS, 98*, 95*). "
  • Öhh...what?!? My unmoderated comment above has been rated as "overrated". People on Slashdot will never cease to amaze me in how stupid and narrowminded you can get.
  • the documentation at is just plain wrong. So, I'm supposed to assume the docs are wrong and keep searching to find something that contradicts the documentation.

    Yeah...sounds like something I wanna use instead of Office.
  • by Sabalon ( 1684 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @06:51PM (#243121)
    According to the Build fact, it does not run on 95/98, just NT, which would in no way make it a competitor to MS Office.
  • Actually sharing files between Office 97 and 2000 (other than Access files, which have completely changed) works surprisingly well. This is because most of Microsoft's big customers threatened to switch to another Office suite after the 95 to 97 debacle. That is why nearly 60% of Microsoft's Office customers are still using pre-2000 versions of MS Office.

    Microsoft knows that their biggest Office suite competitor isn't Corel, or Sun, it's old versions of their software. If the entire world decided to skip upgrading to Office XP Microsoft would go under just as quickly as if we all switched to Linux. So Microsoft is stuck with the unenviable job of trying to sell the new features of their newest Office Suite during an economic downturn. Even worse, hardly anyone can tell you what the new "features" of this product actually are.

    This is precisely why Microsoft wants to get their customers on a subscription model. It would give them a stable income, it would increase the amount of money paid (over the long run) by their customers, and it would completely remove past versions of their old software from the competition. After all, when your Microsoft bill will be the same whether you upgrade or not, you might as well upgrade.

    However, Microsoft faces several challenges in their quest to become the software version of the telephone company. The biggest challenge is that over half of their users are perfectly happy with their current (paid for) software. Consumers are also changing the way that they buy PCs. Nowadays consumers are much more likely to spend less than $1000 on a PC than over $2000. The price of the OS and Office license becomes far more noticeable when the margins on the hardware are cut in half. Last but not least Microsoft is starting to have some actual competition. Linux (and more importantly Open Office) are starting to be pretty useful pieces of software, and they are available at a much lower price. Emachines already come with Star Office, and as the hardware market continues to become more competitive other OEMs will almost certainly follow.

  • Actually I don't buy the cost of software compared to the cost of hardware argument. Perhaps if you are talking bundling, but hardly any PC's at less than $1000 come with bundled software of any consequence.

    But this hardware could come with software. Specifically it could come with Star Office, which is not nearly as bad as you think. It is a ton better than Microsoft Works, for example. In fact, for most people it is pretty much a drop in replacement for MS Office. It starts a little slower, and it needs a little more hardware to be responsive, but for the hardware OEMs this is actually a good thing. The eMachines already come with Star Office, and as the hardware market continues to become more and more competitive other OEMs will likewise begin bundling Star Office. The fact that Star Office runs on Windows makes it an easy piece of software for the OEMs to bundle.

    Believe me, there are plenty of people that find both Linux and Star Office useful, and it isn't the best software that wins out in the end. The software that wins out in the end is the software that is "good enough" at the lowest price. For years people got by with clunky DOS based PCs despite the fact that Macintoshes were tons easier to use, and had niftier software. Apple learned the hard way that most people would rather learn to edit weird text files than pay a couple hundred dollar premium for a computer. Star Office may not be suitable for your needs, but not everyone needs a $500 Office suite.

    It will be interesting to see what wacky scheme Microsoft comes up with next to regain their double digit growth.

  • It's really cool that you are such a wise, all knowing expert and can critique Microsoft from such an incredibly informed point of view.

    But I'm just curious why you are claiming Win2k has a 2 Gig memory limit?

    Just wondering, because... well that's wrong. It's actually a 4 Gig limit. But if that little factoid is wrong, how am I to view your other opinions?

    I mean, are you truly informed, or do you just have some knee jerk reactionary attitude that all things Microsoft suck?

  • think Excel 2000 file format was compatible with Excel 97.

    Access 2000 was definately not compatible with Access 97, however.

    Not sure about Powerpoint.
  • I am sure Microsoft is deeply sorry that they have disappointed you.

    The fact is they probably dropped this for right now because of slowing economic strains. In order to implement this they'd have to take a hit to their short term financial growth in favor of a long term sustainable model. I suspect they are afraid of what would happen to their stock value if they announced next quarter a 20% reduction in earnings.

    As far as Samba. It's really not a threat, and never has been. It's a nice solution if you already have some Unix machines in place and need to serve to Microsoft clients.

    But even with the improvements, it's still a nightmare to support.
  • The Register is like the National Enquirer of the computer world. It's interesting and fun to read, but you shouldn't rely on it for accurate news.

    If your really paranoid go into regedit and search for the word 'License'.

  • I didn't realize Samba was psychic. This must be a new feature just added recently?

    The last time I used it, it was still quite a pain in the ass(at least compared to Win2k) to setup new file shares, new print queues, new users, setting/changing passwords, etc.

  • True true.

    Actually I don't buy the cost of software compared to the cost of hardware argument. Perhaps if you are talking bundling, but hardly any PC's at less than $1000 come with bundled software of any consequence.

    I do think that Microsoft is going to have to lower their charges for Office in order to convince people to do the upgrade. As a boss of mine once said "it's better to have a handful of nickels than no quarters"

    But like you said, the real threat to Microsoft is their old versions. It's certainly not Linux which is hardly what I would call useful, neither is StarOffice.

  • The following quote says it all:
    "By switching to subscriptions and using a new authentication system that forces users to register each copy of Office that is locked to the computer hardware, Microsoft hopes to combat overseas piracy."
    Microsoft customers of the future will be renting software instead of buying it. The option to buy will likely disappear once customers have been weaned away from purchasing software. Let's face it, if .NET gets off the ground you can be sure they'll take advantage of it.
  • Consider the business model of your local laundromat.

    Yes, you are right -- it is similar to XP in many ways:

    1) The machines at the laundromat are overpriced.
    2) The machines sometimes chew up the things you put into them, as they are poorly maintained.
    3) The laundromat is not very secure -- you have to keep a sharp watchout so that some punk doesn't steal all your stuff.
  • stupid comments. I think you have a laundry phobia. You also just quoted my sig line like it has anything to do with what I just posted.

    Well, it certainly wasn't obvious to me that it was a sig line, which generally are some sort of clever quote rather than an ordinary sentence. You were talking about about XP and the line Consider the business model of your local laudromat -- they are in it for the long haul seemed to logically follow: Laundromats make money by renting time on their machines, and so in the end come out richer than if they just sold machines, which is presumably the strategy Microsoft hopes to accomplish with XP.
  • Hey, yer not kiddin',

    The worst is that MSWord automatically inserts two dashes "-" for you when you type.
    When you export to .html from MSWord (after the handy warning that html does not support all the Word formatting - duh) it encodes it as one "-" and the second as a special character "emdash".
    All browsers I've tested will skip over the encoding error except [drumroll]Explorer![rimshot]
    It displays it as "the place - &emdash Chicago"....

    Thank you, Bill....

  • But once you get a free program, nobody can come and say "give it back" (delete it now I command you) - you can keep using it as long as you want to.
  • I think what I liked best about this joke was that it was so understated. Like most humour on Slashdot.

    Yep, subtle satire. Nothing better.

    ************************************************ ** *

  • The only thing the ugly ho'll ever swallow is your credit card. Nobody uses M$ stuff for anything mission-critical anyway. Just office apps.

    I don't know anybody who's had a choice who has actually gone further than NT 4. sp 4.

    M$ has nothing on 64 bit+ platforms. That's all Unix($)/Linux(0$) already. and that's where we're all going.

    Passwords are spookable, Your face and/or your voice uttering a phrase is a lot harder to spoof.

    32 bits is fine until you take biometric security into consideration. Then 32 bits just isn't enough. And then you're M$ free.
  • I was looking forward to the huge wave of Star Office converts...

    The Office 95 users will be likely to go that route, since they otherwise would have to pay the full price of XP.

  • ONE misstep, and Microsoft could find Linux with 10% or more of the desktop market, and StarOffice/OpenOffice being rolled out en masse on corporate desktops.

    StarOffice isn't the only one out there. KOffice [] (part of the KDE [] project is also coming along nicely. It is part of the RedHat 7.1 release (despite their push for GNOME) and is quickly showing itself to be capable and fast evolving.

    Once the Microsoft file formats are reverse engineered to provide full import and export capability, you could easily see something like KOffice show up in corporate offices. Most people don't use 80% of the features in MS Office, so why pay for them?

  • What could they possibly add to Office that would warrant paying the upgrade cost? I know our company RARELY uses any of the bells and whistles later versions have provided. I don't see anything in the feature list that would benefit anyone I know to upgrade.

    Microsoft is pushing people to buy Office XP not for the new features but because it hides Clippy. That's pretty much it. $300 for an upgrade just to hide the Office Assistants (they'll still be on the help menu, just not on by default). Microsoft could release a 100KB patch to do the same thing. [Also see [], The Register [], and MSBC NewsSource [].]

    So what does XP stand for? eXtra Profits, of course.
  • Well, I work for another Fortune 50 company, General Motors (my opinions are not those of GM, yadda yadda...they don't even LIKE my opinions :)

    I would have to say that GM is more firmly in the Microsoft camp now than before.

    Sure, Windows and Office XP aren't in the pipeline at GM. We ran Windows 3.1 on our desktops until 1999. (!)

    They moved to GM OnLine in that year (no, there's no popup ads :), which is a combination of Win95 and WinNT 4 desktops. We're just now making the move to GM OnLine 2000, which is all Windows 2000-based desktops.

    Furthermore, GM IS&S has big plans to migrate its CAD desktops, running Unigraphics, from Solaris and HP-UX to Windows 2000.

    XP is not on the pipeline because it takes them so long to implment a took something like 3 years to implement Windows 95 and NT 4. They promised that half of the desktops by 4Q 2000 would be Windows 2000-based, I have yet to see one single Windows 2000 desktop, other than the 4 CAD workstations we have as part of a pilot to use Windows 2000 in the CAD environment.

    And I have heard rumors of a possible migration to XP at some point. The problem is that the leadership GM IS&S (the CIO's and such) are a bunch of clueless morons who seem to be getting major kickbacks from M$.

    They know that Windows 2000 is an inadequate platform for high-end Unigraphics work. Several of us that work with UG have told them that. The engineers even know that. There are problems with Win2k's 2 GB memory limitation, for example. (A model of car, complete with weld points can easily take 2 GB of memory by itself, for instance). But none of this is stopping the lemmings from jumping on the M$ platform.


    As long as there are clueless droids and suits in charge, the old motto "No one ever got fired for buying IBM" becomes "No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft." and the cycle continues.

  • No, it's 2GB for the kernel and other ring 0 stuff and 2 GB for applications.

    And Solaris can address gobs more memory than 4 GB.

  • in any case, NT should be able to address 64GB of ram, but only map 2GB into any one app.

    We're talking about 1 app here...Unigraphics. While it's possible to run multiple instances of UG, it's often not desirable because it's a copy protected application (yes, even in this day and age) with a electronic licensing arrangment.
  • MS business model is build on ignorance. There is no logical reason to pay for office software and other software commodities anymore since high quality, free alternatives are available.

    However, through FUD, clever marketing and slight abuse of monopoly power, MS has manouvered itself into a position where people assume that MS products are better and are virtually blind for competing products. Based on the above it wouldn't surprise me if openoffice on linux would do a better job of importing win32 created word documents than the apple version of ms office, in any case neither of them does a perfect job.

    Office on the apple is a huge succes but most people have never even heard of openoffice. So they end up paying several hundreds of dollars per person (which in larger companies is a significant amount of money) for the privilege of running MS office while a free alternative would be equally usable.

    The same applies to server software. In the late nineties it was commonly believed that the windows platform was easier to configure and maintain (largely due to MS agressively marketing NT and later windows 2000). However time has proven that this is not the case for anything but trivial setups (which are handled quite effectively by most linux distributions out of the box) and that in fact free alternatives can be very competitive, especially if they are to be maintained by expert sysadmins anyway (which is true for most larger companies). Since the people working in this area are generally a bit more knowledgeable than the average office user, MS largely failed at positioning windows as an alternative for unix on large systems. In fact just a few days ago news was out on the register that among others Compaq was canceling their line of windows data center machines (reason: nobody bothered to buy them).

    Seen in this light it is no surprise that the subscriiption model is being reconsidered since the people taking decisions about this are of the knowledgeable sysadmin type (the same type that's eating their lunch on the serverside already) and may very well opt out entirely.
  • After you upgrade so you can read the newer format, the people you send stuff to need to upgrade so that they can read the stuff you sent. Of course nothing pisses off a customer as much as sending them a document that they cannot read.
  • OK, I'll bite. Not that this or its parent are worth a reply.
    Word has supported HTML as a document format for some time now, but it seems like it's pretty bad, even by Microsoft standards.
    It's still fun to watch anyone try to use MS Word to make a document look exactly like they want it to. Extreme frustration.
    StarOffice and OpenOffice may not be there yet, but when they do, MS will not be able to compete. I fully expect to be able to install the latest version and send a document (with no "save-as" foolishness) to someone who hasn't upgraded in two years, and the recipient will be able to read it with no problems.
  • You're right. Star Office and all the other alternatives MUST become better than the MS product. It's not enough to be just as good as MS, even if it takes a few years.
  • Please no. The Neandertals were smarter and considerably more sturdy.
  • 1) New file formats to create incompatibility.

    Office 2000 uses the same file format as Office 97. So where's your 'new file format' there?

  • The better Open Source starts looking to people who are capable of using it. It's not yet at the level where secretaries/grandmas can use it, and although I sincerely hope that it reaches that level soon, there's no reason to wish misery on the majority of computer users.

  • I kinda saw this coming.. It's weird in a sense, but it also makes sense. Why do people rent apartments? Most (if not all) people would prefer to own their apartment but they rent them because it means they have to pay less up front. For many companies, it would be great to be able to subscribe (think "rent") software, as it would make their up front cost much lower. For startups, software license costs can be a big problem - I know this first hand..

    So why do people and thus companies feel so uncomfortable with subscriptions when it comes to software? I think the reason is that we fear that the company we are subscribing from would go bankrupt and that it would mean that all the software we are using would expire and we would be in a lot of trouble. In the current economical situation where companies are firing people left and right and where many tech companies are facing serious survival issues, the fears are absolutely called for.

    You may think what you like about Microsoft but they aren't stupid. They have user groups that they try their ideas on and they listen carefully to feedback. Nothing is random. If they decide to name something "XP", it's because their studies told them that people like the name. If they decide to drop subscriptions, it's because their studies told them that people were uncomfortable with them.

    And then there's the flipside to the coin. For the exact same reason that companies don't want to subscribe software (fear of the software company going belly up), Microsoft doesn't want to have to trust that companies have money to pay for subscriptions. They would rather get all the money up front. There's less risk that way...
  • by pmc ( 40532 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @04:37AM (#243151) Homepage
    As one of the techies who make these decisions for my company I have seen no reason to upgrade to XP whatsoever - the best justification that anybody has given is that different appointment types appear in different colours in the outlook calender (and I am not maming this up).

    Sure, there are a lot of "cool" features in XP but they will never be used by any of the staff in the course of their work so "thanks, but no thanks".

    This is independent of any subscription model or anything. The details are so vague about when subscriptions die that unless we are absolutely confident that we will not be stung by this we are not going to even think about it. I'll give you an example: suppose we have an employee in Nigeria and his laptop dies - what we are planning to do is to have the ability to restore his laptop from backup onto a new machine and Fedex it out to him. Will this work in XP? Well, it might, or it might not - suppose we have to send a more modern machine out: will the different hardware disable XP?. Are we going to risk this? No way. This is before we even think about the problems that we have with imaging machines.

    No doubt Microsoft will try to force the upgrade path at some point, but I think (hope) that they will be in for a surprise when they do. Under the current situation we buy the basic "OS+Office" package for all employees (plus a few to make sure we don't stray), and a number of licences for such things as Visio and Project. So we know we're covered, and they know we're covered. Everyone's happy, although we're slightly poorer (think of it as audit insurance).

    Fast forward a few years to the happy world of subscription based software. Despite paying for the licence and all the rest, there is now this extra hoop to jump. And you cannot tell me that we will be able to jump through this hoop with 100% success rate from anywhere in the world (and the only continent that our employees don't work in is Antarctica). So the onus has shifted - before the sitation was that we could use the software, but microsoft reserved the right to sue use if we broke the agreement. In the future the situation is that MS has to approve the use of the software before it is used. Just wait until the first day the the CEO of a big company finds that he cannot use his new PC because MS is being DDoSed again. Apart from really pissing him off, and him telling all his friends (i.e. other CEOs), he will (hopefully) start to wonder exactly why it is that his company has paid big money for something that, sometimes, doesn't work at all.

    Just think back to the Repo man story - imagine XP was a car that, if you moved house, got towed away by the manufacturers, and you had to phone them up to get them to return it. Would this be acceptable? Of course not.

  • Why would you need to support samba? The client machines are not running it. You set up a samba server and you are done it requires no support. No bozo from sales is going to call you and say "my samba is broke"
  • It's no probelm at all. Please check again. You install samba ("apt-get install samba" or rpmfind --install samba) and then run swat. Connect via your web browser and you can set up samba in a few minutes. You can also use webmin to set up samba. If you use a windows PDC samba can use that to authenticate if not it can generate a user list from /etc/passwd.

    It's probably easier then windows if you use webmin or swat and you have much more control then windows sharing. You can block users by IP or set up different auth schemes in different shares for example.

    Sure a typical brainless windows admin probably could not even log into the linux machine let alone configure it but a typical linux admin could do it in no time.

    Besides once you set up (or payed someone to do it if you are shop full of idiots) then it works without any further tweaking. Like I said no support costs to speak of.
  • If you're only interested in the mail features of Outlook, you can run any MAPI mail client, and if your admins have IMAP configured, pretty much any mail client.
  • I find it curious that only now is Boeing upgrading to Office 2000, and we're just finishing upgrading all our desktops from Win95 to NT4. Not only isn't XP (Windows or Office) in the pipeline, it isn't even on the horizon.

    Well, most of the corporate MS licenses allow employees to duplicate their work environment at home, so that's not anything specific to Boeing. Just because Boeing was an Exchange early-adopter doesn't much, since that was largely a server-side rollout. Upgrading the desktop OS, or the productivity suite, is in some ways a more complicated undertaking in a company the size of Boeing.

    Boeing probably has about a gazillion in-house apps that had to be tested and some rewritten to run correctly on NT.

  • Corporate licenses of XP do not have the "fingerprint" restriction, which is why corporate copies of the OS and presumably Office will be the most coveted and pirated of all. Regular joes will end up footing the bill.
  • I think you have a good point here. Most of the time I open Office is to read someone else's stuff. For times I need to create a doc, a simple editor like WordPad would be fine. If I was paying a per-bang rate, I'd always be conscious of what I was spending and seek out free alternatives and think about the cost each time I open the app.

    Americans, at least, have shown a large hatred of per-use charging. For most of us, our local telco calls are free, cell phones are priced with large bundled minute plans which cost us more than a per-use plan because we hate to watch the clock, we pay $14.95/month for HBO even though we may only watch a movie or two and Dennis Miller, but resist dropping a dime on pay-per-view movies, etc, etc...

    Then there's employers. Lots of them also loathe pay-per-use scenarios. Makes budgeting harder. What's the penalty at your company for dialing "411" information instead of using a directory? In many, including mine, it's death by lethal injection.

    The only way I can see Microsoft making a go of a subscription model is to charge by the month or year instead of by use, which they already do in their upgrade advantage program.

  • gee, and here I was thinking this was bad news because it delays the only change in consumer software choice since the shareware revolution.
  • yer, cause it's not like you cant just save as html.
  • There's probably some term in there that requires him to be in any subscription based software.
    That Clippy sure is a tough negotiator. I tell him every time I start up Word that I dont want his fucking help but the persistant little shit just wont go away.
  • 3 Re:Bad News posted on Sunday May 06, @02:49AM EST (Score:2)
    attached to Microsoft Postpones Office XP Subscriptions
    4 Re:Why do people think they're successful? posted on Friday May 04, @10:55PM EST (Score:3)

    I wasnt here yesterday.
  • and perhaps you need to think outside the box you live in. Consider: if you dont have the software, how do you open the proprietory format? Of course, if you're too stupid to export the file to some neutral format before your subscription runs out maybe you should pay another $50.
  • By the same logic, wouldn't it make more sense to rent the app and not install anything?
  • go ahead. but you cant then go and tell everyone who has the same public domain code as what you have copyrighted to pay up -- therefore you do not own it.
  • stupid comments. I think you have a laundry phobia. You also just quoted my sig line like it has anything to do with what I just posted.
  • The whole point of a laudromat is that they dont make more money. Maybe by the time they are fifty. Do the math, these machines are worth like $30k each and there's over a two dozen in your average landromat. Add to that the cost of renting the shop (or buying that land, shya) and you've got a huge initial investment so you can collect chunk change for the rest of your life.
  • You are indeed correct. The specific passage is:

    Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.

    Which does not exclude me from placing other restrictions on your use of the software. But really the only reason why I would use the GPL is because I want people to be able to use my software. Please notice however that it is my software. You may own the bits but we can say that of commercial software too. The monopoly rights that are granted by Copyright however are definitely mine and that's about all we have to define property of software. Not that I think copyright is at all useful, but it is important to know the law before we begin to challenge it.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:21AM (#243169) Homepage Journal
    I can see that you were trying to be funny, but as an open source programmer I remind you that you do not own the software I am so gracious to permit you to run or copy. That is why we put licenses on them. We specifically are saying that we retain ownership to them and that you must agree to the license before you use it. This is pretty obvious with the GPL but it is also true with the BSD license (specifically you agree that you wont sue me if you want to use the software). Even if I put my code in the public domain, and you choose to run it, you do not own it. The only way you can "own" the software you run is by writing it yourself or purchasing the copyright.
  • What does piracy have to do with this? Are there a lot of cases of Microsoft shipping by aquatic means? How does a country by country introduction prevent their shipping lines from being attacked?
    Oh wait, you meant "copyright infringement".
  • AC wrote:
    Such nonsense can be disabled if it gets in the way of your working.

    I looked and I looked and I looked, but I couldn't find any way to disable the "crash every couple of hours taking out all changes" option. Neither could I find any way to disable the "lock the application solid every 30 minutes so I have to kill it without saving." option.

    I can put up with it drawing funkly red and green lines where it thinks I'm doing the wrong thing. Fact is, like that other fellow, I'd rather complain than set it to not do that. At least that way, the two or three percent of the time that it's pointing out a genuine error, I can get some use out of the feature. However, a word processor that crashes and locks up and loses data randomly is not something I'd wish on my worst enemy.

    My preference is to use LyX. The documents that are produced by LyX may not be as pretty (as near as I can tell, the reason that the spec I wrote was converted into "Word" was so we could put the company logo on the title page) but it's the content of the document that's important, isn't it? Besides, LyX has never eaten any of my data and refused to save it when asked.

  • GigsVT wrote:
    They don't need to know any more than they do, since all they want is a glorified typewriter and calculator. Those people will use whatever OS is put in front of them. For them, Linux will be very easy to use, because someone else will have done all the configuration and installation.

    I should point out that at the company I own, as opposed to the one I work for, we actually deployed Linux on the secretary's desktop and it did, indeed, work exactly this way. I set it up and managed it, and she used it and she had no problems at all, except she never did figure out how to run the games that were installed. (I don't know what was so hard about "stepping on the foot" and selecting "Games", but she's never managed it.)

  • And with the dot com crash, how safe is an ASP? Maybe it doesn't make sense to base your business on a service when you're not sure if it will be around next month.
  • by Bilestoad ( 60385 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @05:30AM (#243174)
    No. In fact, the worse MS looks, the more people are likely to look at Open Source before it's ready. And you know what happens then? People either laugh or scream, and run right back to Microsoft vowing never to touch that free shit again.

    Star Office and all the other alternatives MUST become better than the MS product, and not just a little bit - obviously better. The cost doesn't really factor into the decision at the corporate level. If and when people flirt with change the change must be compelling, or else that brief look does more damage than good.

  • Microsoft has created method to keep intranets in order so while your post may have been somewhat positive you're slightly misinformed. They do have an enterprise way of setting things up with their workgroup web [] set up

  • They are starting to face consumer resistence to change versions, as they offer nothing the consumer wants.

    This is opinionated as if it were true MS wouldn't make as much money yearly as they currently do. Sure many may want change, and may bitch about leaving, but the facts remain little do nothing more than talk trash.

    What could be the reason for an exising Office user to buy a Office XP? Difficult question.

    Marketing is the reasoning behind it. As soon as a certain number of companies make that switch to a standardized format many others will follow, and you have to keep in mind companies will not reinvent their whole network at the expense of someone's distaste for MS products. It would be rather costly for one, secondly again think about when X amounts of companies make that switch to standardized formats, how will other OS' play with Office XP? Will StarOffice support .XPXLS or .XPDOC files should MS throw a wrench in the wheel. Its simpler for companies to dish out, than the heartaches of doing otherwise.

    They face also a maturing PC market, with declining sales.

    "Maturing market" means to me, many may get tired of gcc'ing files and configuring everything and its parent as opposed to the lazy point and click world.

    It is not based on customer demand. If you ask
    customers what do they want of Microsoft, a subscription based service is unlikely to make to the top-10.

    Microsoft is far from a "what the people want" type of OS yet they do well in fact better than anyone out there in terms of sales regardless of what people want. Its more or less +90% a standard in the business world.

    That can work, as I say, with a perfect monopoly. I was really looking forward to this subscription idea. To me it looked like the moment we were going to test how strong is Microsoft monopoly, and how much it's based on not having irritated to date their lazy customers too much.

    I'm so tired of hearing monopoly its just so "un-chic" a word. Its business everyone does it. Cisco has brought out many networking companies no one bitched, AOL same thing, GE owns just about 40% of everything you could think of whether people know it or not, and is the only company to literally make up what they want to post as sales at the end of year (trust me they post whatever looks good to themselves)

    So MS has screwed up down the line, all businesses do somehow, and I'm so tired of seeing the old monopoly argument when it comes to MS along with an Open Source aura of comments surrounding it. Its just outdated and rather lame at this point.

  • "Software is owned by people. We shall not stifle creativity, talent, and the wants of users for the sake of profit

    If this were the case the whole world of computing would be entirely free. No Cisco, you cannot charge for your IOS, etc., etc., etc.

    This is not a free world, and although I'm not a Microsoft devotee of any sorts, they are smart enough to pull it off. People bought into the Windows lifestyle because it was simple for them, not everyone can jump in a term and code their needs or wants, so they turn to Open Source to find the neccessities to make their lives simple.

    However, lets take a look at the BSD's, and Linux', and other alternative OS', they don't appeal to the average Joe/Josie because they may be too difficult as opposed to just point-and-click, drag-and-drop. Sure it may be easy for someone to learn after some tinkering, but if your a Fortune 500 company your not going to drop your productivity because you have to train secretaries to gcc -o program program.c

    Why because its simply not worth it. Sure you can change your network servers, etc., etc., but on the Office level its not feasible. Star Office tries but lacks for the standard "secretary" and not only that but what happens when you need to exchange legacy documents with other companies, clients, etc. then what? Even if you did switch your whole company around doesn't mean others will.

    So yes Open Source may be better by very distinctive/somewhat biased at times/benchmarked ways, its still highly disputable from both sides to get a fair take on why you should either continue to use Windows or switch to Open Source.

    In the end think about this saying: "When you drink all your water and look at your cup, you say its empty, I say its full of air"
  • by joq ( 63625 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @12:00AM (#243178) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the reason for the move is, MS could be waiting for the fed (Greenspan) to announce yet another raise or cut in interest rates (which is due for for May the last was to boost the economy sort of a freebie) which could also determine whether companies would jump up and buy buy buy, or wait wait wait. Analysts predict a stronger growth in the third quarter since most people are vactioning and sell off stocks in the summer, etc, etc. (no bs I dig the stock market [])

    Or perhaps some security flaws (which are high in MS) prompted developers to assess those in order to make it more attractive as opposed to the launch of Windows2000 where speculation was the product had over 60k bugs. By releasing YACP (yet another crappy product) MS could lose huge revenues all over the place, which is crucial especially when alternative OS' have been making their marks. Also remember their so called "Anti Piracy" feature was cracked recently [].

    Which reminds me... I remember when I was working on Theories in DoS [], I made this program called Bubonic [] which was messing up Windows2000 and NT machines. I repeatedly tried to benchmark what was going on when I made the program and submitted it to Bugtraq since it messed up Windows' rpc crap entirely. Well after the advosry MS released a patch for rpc stuff saying they discovered an undiscovered flaw that affected rpc yadda yadda.

    Hardcore Crypto []

  • There are a couple of conditions.

    1) You need to be running W2K Advanced Server or better.
    2) You need to boot with the /3GB flag on the kernel
    3) You need to have your app marked as 3GB aware.

    If any of these three conditions fails, you only get 2GB of user space.
  • You forgot something:

    "Sir," Varick plugs a laptop into a projector

    and it blue screens.

    Bill chuckles. Then laughs. Then screams as Ballmer, the cat, and The Accountant head for the hills.


  • Anyone who admits to being wealthy must be a very poor person compared to those who really have money. Many people in the world have much more wealth and power than Gates, but they like to hide it. Nothing is better than having control when most people don't realize it. Anyway, personal thoughts. Can't really proove anything other than the wealthy only seem to get so wealthy then all of a sudden their wealth dissapears. Rockefellers in particular were (are?) really good at that.
  • ... Regardless of whether it is subscription based or not. Here is why:

    When you have to support dozens or hundreds of PCs, you have to find ways to make your job as easy as possible. That means have ghost images of preconfigured systems, the use of a single product key, or other images so you can rebuild systems quickly and easily. By generating a fingerprint for each build, you eliminate the ability to do automated rollouts using images, or a single product key for an entire office. The fact that you own adequete licenses is irrelevent.

    Watch the support costs grow when XP is rolled out in a corporate environment.
  • yer, cause it's not like you cant just save as html.

    Have you ever seen the HTML created by MS-Word? Hideous stuff, barely useable, with deprecated tags, incorrectly made entities and invalid ASCII. See [] You are better off to save as text, then go in with a text editor and add the markup.

    Also, how long until they remove these export mechanisms "in order to serve us better" with more "innovation"? For example, they could make Front Page read Word format (if it doesn't already), then claim that this removes any need for export to text or HTML and that this represents better "integration" (their premier code-word for "lock-in").

  • MS is smart. Since all new Office can read old Office documents, but not vice versa, and you have to a pretty advanced user to 'export' to an old version. The upgrade demand is like a virus. My customers upgrade, and send me unreadable documents, I am likely to upgrade to be able to handle this, without upsetting them, and so on. One could speculate that MS could continue this 'enforcement' of revenue without adding any features whatsoever. Although I have heard that they are moving to XML representations now, this won't work anymore. You could then easily set up a Document Translation service on the network, even handled easily by the mail servers...
    Have you ever used Word?? To save as an older format, you choose "save as" and choose the format from the list at the bottom. No brain surgery is required. It's about as easy as is can possibly be. As for all the people talking about how Office already has too many features, and they aren't being used, it's obvious you don't use these products very often. In our office, we have a writing team making 500 page documents, using nearly every feature Word has. We have people making databases that use all of Accesses features (and will gladly use XP's Access for the enhanced interopability with MS SQL Server). The average user won't use all the features for writing a letter to mom, but they are far from useless and bloatware.
  • If you rent software in some countries, you might be responsible for keeping it in good shape and fixing bugs. Maybe Microsoft has finally discovered this and reacted accordingly.

    However, the current scheme of selling licenses without time limit can be extended to a subscription scheme without actually renting software: just release a new Office version every year, and make sure that it's slightly incompatible. In fact, Microsoft announced this kind of strategy back in 1995 or so (of course, not the incompatibility part), but they didn't manage to release their software more regularly for some reason.
  • by Sax Maniac ( 88550 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @08:10AM (#243189) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever used Word?? To save as an older format, you choose "save as" and choose the format from the list at the bottom. No brain surgery is required. It's about as easy as is can possibly be.

    Sure, we know it's easy. But MS makes the new file format incompatible and they make it default. Your average office drone who is busy sending stupid elf-bowling .EXEs to you is not going to take the time to learn how save documents in a compatible format.

    The only thing that will happen is this: Bob sends Ned Word-2005 files, but Ned can't open them. What should happen: Ned sends mail to Bob telling him not to be a dimwit and save his documents in the older format. What always happens: Ned calls IT and says "I NEED WORD 2005!". IT gets thousands of these calls, they buy Word 2005. Ooops, Word 2005 will only run on Windows 2005! Quick, buy Windows 2005 too!

    This is the game that MS plays.

    Truthfully, there have been no new features since Word 6.0 that are worth breaking compatability for. Save 'em all in 6.0 format.

  • by frank249 ( 100528 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @03:10AM (#243194)
    Currently about 60 percent of Office users work on either version 95 or 97, not the more recent Office 2000. In a strange move, the company has opted not to offer Office XP upgrades to version 95 licensees, which make up about 10 percent of Office users. They will have to pay full price.

    There is an article in the Toronto Star Newspaper [] that points out how users disatified with MS Office may be driven to switch to an alternative and this is an opportunity for Corel. The new WordPerfect Office 10 (WPO X) has lots of new features and still runs on windows 95. ZDNet in a rare unbiased move actually just gave it a good review [].

    It is shipping now and seems to be selling well at Amazon where it it is currently #38 in sales [] with a 5 star buyer's rating.

    Now everyone are not going to switch over night but Microsoft cancelling the subscriptions may be an indication that it is worried about messing this release up.

  • Ummm.... Let me think.... NO! You do NOT have to agree to the GPL or BSD to use software licensed under it. You do own the copies of Free software that you posess. However, under copyright laws, you can't redistribute it. The only thing that lets you do that is the license, and to do so, you must agree to the other restrictions it slaps on.

    Copyright is not ownership, copyright is just that. A monopoly on the right to make a copy.

    If you're an open source programmer as you claim, it'd probably be a good idea to read some of the Free Software Foundation []'s pages on licensing, copyright, and the GPL, which explicitly counter all your claims in far more detail than I could go into here.

  • i asked this same question many a time when i worked in a MS house. There are a few answers that i always got. 1st - clueless office drones read about some (lame) new 'feature' of Office($ver) and insist to the IT folks that they need it. This eventually annoys the shit out of them until they break down and buy it. 2nd - Much more compelling reason is that your MS house does business with other MS houses that upgrade. The new default format is incompatable with the older Office version. Your office drones need the new version just to read documents that they get from other businesses. why do those people make the switch? see answer one.
  • I work on a college campus that has to deal with both PCs and Macs, and throughout the versions of Office that claim some or pretty good compatibility with earlier ones or even just across platforms, it seems like it's just specs. Nothing substantial accomplished in the real world because all the features offered to make users upgrade are implemented differently by the different developing teams that Microsoft has for their supported platforms. And I thought [internal] code-sharing was supposed to be Microsoft's key to success. But check out programs like Explorer 5 for macs and see what's been left out.

    Back to the topic, students still come up to me at the helpdesk to print their papers when the PC side of the lab gets filled, even though the iMacs are unused and have a *newer* version of Office (98). Reason? "My fonts look different" or "It won't fit in the 5 page limit if you convert it" or "Hmm ... but won't the mac version mess up my footnotes?"

    Apparently, people aren't willing to even sit down to learn what *should* be the same program even if it means waiting on a queue while a compatible version is available. Will this same thing happen with XP and the upcoming version for the MacOS / OS X? Gee, didn't they just release office 2001? I think When an office suite is updated every year you have little chance to make good ports.

    It am starting to fall behind in the # of versions we support (some people never upgrade and the college can't force them to or put Office on a server since the software isn't free).

    Sorry about the incoherence you may find. It's almost 6 AM and I haven't slept because WHquestion is dying in 6 hours :'(
  • by DeadPrez ( 129998 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:31AM (#243200) Homepage
    I was kinda hoping this year and next year would would be when the horns locked between free software (as in GPL/BSD licensed) and subscription-based (as in Microsoft's). I felt strongly this would be the epic battle...and the turning point. It kinda irks me to see it delayed.

    Why is now a better time than later? For one the economy is slowing down and that means the peanut counters are watching what is spent. Also, all the new Microsoft software doesn't have major advancements (ie. major imitation of other innovative software). That, combined with subscription based software spells disastor, IMHO. Being an IT Manager I see no reason to upgrade my 100 machines running w2k and office2k just to pay XX money XX times a year. Without subscription based software a lot of managers will probably fall into the same upgrade routine down every two years thus far (wait for complaints someone emailed a Word doc they can't read with their slightly older yet basically just as functional copy of Word).

    With Samba's new features like adding printers and remote management as well as ACL lists coming into maturity the outlook (no pun intended) looks bad for MS on all fronts. I want the 2 bulls locking horns this year. I know a bunch of you say they are already locking, but I disagree. It has been mostly a stare down until the upgrade cycle comes around this time.

    Lets remember, IT Managers only have so much ability for change. No CIO/COO/CFO is going to go for non MS stuff unless it seriously hits them in the pocket book...and on a monthly basis. Status quo is good enough until then.

    Anyway, lets all hope MS changes their mind back because the time is right with the slowing economy, the maturity of free software and lack of real "new stuff" in the next versions of MS software, for free software to win the war.
  • by revbob ( 155074 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @04:50AM (#243207) Homepage Journal
    My company is the archetypal "Microsoft shop" - Boeing (for whom I do not speak, yadda yadda yadda). I mean, we were early implementors of Exchange (yuck!), we get to take Office home for the cost of the media, we can get Visual Studio if we use it at work, out IT folks make huge noises about how if you don't run the "company standard platform" you could get in Big Trouble -- the Big Airplane Company is very much in bed with Microsoft.

    I find it curious that only now is Boeing upgrading to Office 2000, and we're just finishing upgrading all our desktops from Win95 to NT4. Not only isn't XP (Windows or Office) in the pipeline, it isn't even on the horizon.

    If a company that's as cozy with MICROS~1 as Boeing is isn't sending them huge globs of cash for the latest and greatest Windows and Office, imagine what LockMart or Exxon or the other Fortune 50 companies are doing.

    I don't think MSFT's corporate bread and butter customers ever bought into their 2-year cycle of discard and replace. Even IT managers whose driveways mysteriously gained new Porsches have a hard time convincing their CEOs that it's time to negotiate a new contract with MSFT when they just finished nailing down the old one.

    And if they feel like they got a good deal (CEO's who've negotiated hard always think they got a good deal), why not ride it out as long as they can?

    So the short answer as to why Microsoft is pulling back on their plans for XP is a problem I've been waiting to come home to roost there for some time: not just revenue, but cash flow. You can ride on the back of a tiger only so long before he turns around and notices you. All this scurrying around MSFT is doing with .NET and software rental is because they're beginning to realize that their ride is over.

  • by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:00AM (#243211) Homepage
    This does eventually get to the XP thing, read on.

    I'm bored. Slightly drunk. At home, on a saturday night. Alone. No, I'm not bitter. No. This is not part of the story. Enjoy.

    Dark room: Scrawny man with a Microsoft T-shirt sits by a roaring fire, holding a white cat. His name-tag - emblazoned in gold, reads "Bill". Several disemboweled penguins hang from the wall, dripping entrails and blood.

    A old bald man enters.
    "Mr. Gates, you wished to see me?"
    "My CEO, ah, yes. Come in Mr. Ballmer" The scrawny man responds. Stroking the white cat, he continues.
    " The United States Department of Justice has damaged our financial situation. I am no longer the richest man in the world. What should we do? We can not allow such treachery to go without punishment!"

    "Sir, we could use this opportunity to unveil our secret weapon!"
    "You're not talking about . . ."
    " Yes, I am"
    The room goes deathly quiet, even the squealing penguins in the cages fall silent.

    "Very well then - Send in . . ."
    Dramatic pause, lightning flashes, thunder, well, thunders.
    " The ACCOUNTANT!"
    More thunder, we catch a glimpse of a worker with an arc welder, picking up a large thin piece of metal off the floor.
    A scrawnier person enters. He looks very ferrety, almost identical looking to Mr. Gates. He wears an armband of a flying window. In other circumstances, he would be called "mini me". This however, is not Austin Powers, nor even a multi-million dollar movie. It is a slashdot post.
    " Greetings from the boiler room Chief Software Architect, Sir." He goosesteps in, legs seemingly without joints.
    Penguins squeal in terror, off to the side, we see a small daemon, begin to cry. The white cat darts off to the corner.
    Varick salutes - "Heil Microsoft!"
    Gates nods approvingly, "So Mr. Varick, what have you come up with this time?"
    "Sir," Varick plugs a laptop into a projector - "World Domination" is projected on the wall.
    In a high pitched voice, he continues, " By not hiring millions of recently un-employed tech workers to answer phones and "authorize" versions of XP, Microsoft can, single-handedly, doom the United States Of America to a several long years of recession."
    Balmer nods, " Ultimately their weak government will fall to hordes of angry citizens - and the politicians will die slow, painful, brutal deaths! Utter chaos will result! Cities without leaders!"
    The slide shows a burning city, with politicians hanging from lamp posts.
    Varick switches slides and squeals "And we shall be the beacon of hope and stability! We will swoop in and save the people from their own madness!"
    Maniacal laughter rebounds in the room.
    Gates stands up, lifts up both arms and bellows "One World, one Web, one Program!" The screaming of the penguins crescendo's, as Gates' cat tears into them, seemingly insane - feathers fly through the air and blood splatters all over Varick - "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Betriebssystem" - he screams (One people, one realm, One operating system according to the fish), the daemon falls next - torn in half.
    " We shall rule the world!" Ballmer yells " We shall be Gods!"

    Several minutes later, the frenzy stops, leaving only the fire, pools of blood, the three men and a bloody cat.
    "Fuck with Microsoft will they?" Gates asks in a hushed voice. "Fuck with Microsoft?"

    I have a shotgun, a shovel and 30 acres behind the barn.

  • More sinister than file format hoarding: Hardware. Follow me:

    • Popular hardware maker A makes new whiz-bang peripheral/chipset/whatever.
    • Out of laziness (or some under-the-hood incentive by M$) they only release drivers for WinYY.
    • Now, if you want your machine to have new whiz-bang hardware (or if you're buying a new machine -- maybe your company is growing) you are forced to use WinYY or later.
    • Result 1: you are forced to use WinYY.
    • Hypothesis: Versions of Office < YY will somehow not work correctly under WinYY.
    • Result 2: you are forced to use Office YY.
    I won't even get into hardware that is technologically or legally prevented from being usd by Free OSs. There's too many ugly developments coming from there already.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @05:02AM (#243215) Journal
    There was this story [] in the The Register citing A post on The Tech Report suggests that Microsoft just might be preparing to retro-fit XP's product activation to Win2k. According to the author, installation of the Internet Explorer 6 preview on a Win2k machine resulted in the addition of a new, suspicious-sounding registry key:


    (The original Tech Report article is here [], and has some more interesting tech data.)

    Bottom line, they are going to try to get you any way they can.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • by SpookyFish ( 195418 ) on Saturday May 05, 2001 @11:52PM (#243220)

    The subscription model lowers the cost of entry, which would in theory increase the number of customers. Office, however, has virtually no competition, so it likely would make them less money, especially in the short term. Microsoft realized that 90% of companies will buy Office and also pay to upgrade it every couple versions, regardless of the cost (within reason).

    This kind of stuff is why I hate Microsoft, but I can't deny they have some good business minds there.

    That's my theory, but what do I know?
  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Saturday May 05, 2001 @11:46PM (#243227) Journal
    They already told us what they have up their sleeve really:

    The Microsoft spokeswoman emphasized that the company remains "committed to the subscription model and definitely plan(s) to continue with plans to deliver subscription offerings worldwide. She described Microsoft's new strategy as a "more metered approach," with the company "rolling out subscription offerings on a country-by-country basis."

    So basically, "We will try this out in more oppressed countries first that have people in them that are used to being screwed over."

  • Actually that makes the most sense of all... needing to upgrade to read the newer format that other people are using. That's a horrible shame.
  • by kstumpf ( 218897 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @12:15AM (#243232)
    My company is a Microsoft shop (other than my machines) and so, to my dismay, we use Office. I'm really curious to see if we will upgrade to Office XP, and if so, why we would upgrade. What could they possibly add to Office that would warrant paying the upgrade cost? I know our company RARELY uses any of the bells and whistles later versions have provided. I don't see anything in the feature list that would benefit anyone I know to upgrade. Between the cost of the software, deployment time, orientation, and inevitable bugfixes, where is the gain? Don't you benefit more from productivity software by sticking with what's familiar and is already working fine? What exactly is the purpose of this corporate trend to want to run the very latest bleeding-edge productivity app?
  • Who comes up with these comments like "getting too much heat from IT managers" ?

    Presumably somebody in university/home-hacker or generally somebody who's not worked relatively high up in IT.

    Many IT managers would welcome a yearly subscription model. Any reasonably sized company has budgets, and this covers IT. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to decide 18 months in advance what software you'll be running, how many new users you can expect (often without help from HR).

    To have at least the main office and o/s packages that companies use on a yearly subscription would go someway to help this. Medium-large companies like fixed monthly payments even if it does work out slightly more expensive in the end.

    Why do you think financing is so popular with businesses? It's for the same reasons.

  • I'm sure the next version of Office will get rid of that pesky "Save As" feature (or maybe that will be part of a premium subscription package).

    And strangely, you'll find copying to the clipboard from Word won't... work... anymore. Wonder how that could be? =P

    Enjoy delicious Microsoft Word!

  • by Kasreyn ( 233624 ) on Saturday May 05, 2001 @11:49PM (#243240) Homepage
    ...I like the department this time. =P How's that joke go? "Boil the frog slowly or it'll jump out of the pot"? =)

    As for Office XP subscriptions, I don't think we've seen the last of this. I just think MS realized they would have too hard a sell with that. I think they'd much rather sell Office XP and put it on all Windows desktops, and THEN go over to subscriptions if people want to keep accessing their documents. Gotcha.

  • She described Microsoft's new strategy as a "more metered approach," with the company "rolling out subscription offerings on a country-by-country basis."

    I wonder if they considered another "more metered approach" - don't they have any other products that have a smaller market (or are possibly more amenable to the subscription concept) than Office? Try working those products first. Office must be a nightmare when it comes to strategy changes... everyone uses it from college students to grandmothers and small businesses to the largest multinationals. Besides, is "country-by-country" going to prevent pirating and give an accurate idea of expectations?

  • Asses it seems. I still wonder why it is people so strongly rely upon MS office "products", especially when there are viable alternatives like paying cheaper licenses to SUN for StarOffice. Or hell, compiling up and using OpenOffice. I will be jumping for joy when OpenOffice reaches the point that Mozilla is at now. It (OpenOffice) is getting to the point where is it useable for mild uses, still buggy, but it works great if all you need is to view MS formats (like .xls).

    I don't care what it looks like, it WORKS doesn't it!?!
  • I believe that companies will start using linux/bsd desktops and servers exactly when it becomes obvious that it will cost them less money (hardware+software+maintenance+training) than the Microsoft-way

    But is this obvious? People have to be trained to use their computers regardless. KDE or Windows or Aqua. Doesn't matter and training costs money since it is a service regardless of the topic.

    RIght now Linux's main advantage over Microsoft is software costs which are substantial. The other costs aren't much different. In fact Linux might cost a little more because Linux techs and teachers cost more right now (though that is starting to change as more folks learn it) Hardware costs might be slightly less, but I doubt it. Half the pressure to upgrade business systems comes from employees wanting the latest, not the load from their software. I just switched jobs and went from using a 700MHz Athlon system to a Pentium II 300 running NT. I was surprised how well it runs. I relaized how much my company wasted on deploying the latest Pent III Dell system to secretaries who only run Office. The only folks who REALLY needed the top end systems were the developers compiling stuff locally and running complex IDEs. Same would be true for LInux developers.

    That said - Microsoft is really exsposing themselves more by pushing subscriptions. IT managers KNOW it'll cost them more in teh loon grun and that makes Linux look even more attractive


  • "The subscription model lowers the cost of entry, which would in theory increase the number of customers. Office, however, has virtually no competition, so it likely would make them less money, especially in the short term"

    I think you make the point right there.

    Simply put, the market for Office is pretty much saturated as it is. A subscription/rental model HAS to have a lower entry cost than did outright purchase, or else no one in their right mind would buy it. If the rental for Office XP for a year is greater than the cost of buying Office 2000, everyone will give M$ the finger.

    With Office already having an installed base in the tens of million, there is no profit to be gained up front in going to such a model. In fact, it almost HAS to be run as a loss leader for a year or two just to get it going. Which will be very bad for M$'s bottom line, as they have not been doing quite so well the past couple of years as it is. With Office, not Windows, making up the majority of M$'s revenue, this is a hit they cannot afford to make.

    In the long term, a rental/subscription model will make much more money, as it would amount to a perpetual "Microsoft Tax" on 90+% of the computer using population. But it's no longer 1995.... Microsoft is still a monopoly, true, but for the first time since DOS, they have a competitor (Linux). Linux's growth rate is outpacing Microsoft on desktops and, more importantly, servers (where .NET will be controlled). ONE misstep, and Microsoft could find Linux with 10% or more of the desktop market, and StarOffice/OpenOffice being rolled out en masse on corporate desktops. To be honest, I believe that this process will continue. It's inevitable that Linux, because of the fact it's the only true cross-platform, scalable mainstream OS on the market, will eventually gain a greater number of desktop users than Apple.

    This is why Microsoft HAD no choice but to involve Linux in .NET. The whole point of .NET is to fundamentally change the PC marketplace from individual machines in local lans connected to the internet to a client/server model with .NET as the server. This is their only hope to somehow gain some control of the inernet standards, and the server end, which up to now they have completely failed to do outside the client end. It's much harder to dictate to the server from the client end, but much easier vice versa. Microsoft HAS to somehow stop Linux/BSD from dominating the server space, or at least, manipulate them in their favor, so as to not eventually lose the client side, or at the very least, see 10-20% of the client market go to Linux. If that happens, it's all over for them, as the market will be FAR too large for M$ to stay out of.

    Why? If Linux were to gain 10-20% of the mega billion dollar dollar PC market, it would be large enough itself to sustain Microsoft competitors. Worse, these competitors would be free of M$ interference and OS "features" that break their code, etc. M$ would be forced into the Linux software market. And that will be the END of Microsoft. If M$ makes Office/IE/etc for Linux, an operating system that they CANNOT embrace and extend, or gain proprietary control of (the GPL prevents this), it's all over. M$ ceases to be a monster, and merely becomes another application company.

    This is why M$ is going to try to break the GPL. I fully expect some kind of anti-GPL "DMCA" esque law to be handed over to our wonderful, corruptable congressmonsters soon, if it's not already happened. What will make this interesting is that to break the GPL requires also breaking copyright. How they will manage to do it while maintaining the draconian IP control of the DMCA is beyond my ability to guess.

  • Where I work, the headquarters always gets the upgrades first, then they gradually trickle out to the other plants. So when Office 95 came out, we started receiving .doc's and .xls's that we couldn't read. There apparently are two kinds of users at HQ -- the ones that knew how to save it as Word 6.0 but forgot every time so all communications slowed to half-speed as you had to email them to convert it and re-send, and the ones that you had get on the phone and guide through Save As, file type, ... Customers were even worse.

    Office 97, same thing, with one small difference for Word only. The Office 97 disk had a not-easy-to-find utility that converted 97 .doc's to 95 -- so the 97 user who was too damned lazy to save as 95 could send this little .exe to others and they could (with twice as much work) convert it so it was readable...

    And it's quite true, no features added since Word 6.0 have been worth the hassle -- and I don't remember any added features that inherently could not have been added without breaking file compatibility. And for XP, the only true improvement I've heard about is a feature reduction, the paperclip is off by default. So if they made the upgrade 100% hassle-free, it still wouldn't be worth the money.
  • On re-reading this, noticed I skipped right past Office 2000. The MIS drones apparently learned something from the 95 and 97 upgrades -- they "just said no". And, since MS didn't randomly change file formats, we were able to make that stick.
  • C|Net also had the article (link is in plain text for the goat paranoid): l? tag=lthd

  • by PicassoJones ( 315767 ) on Saturday May 05, 2001 @11:52PM (#243261)
    I'd say that they probably had some contract problems with Clippy the office assistant. There's probably some term in there that requires him to be in any subscription based software.
  • by PicassoJones ( 315767 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @12:20AM (#243262)
    Maybe this is an attempt to save face after looking like a moron with that Mundie speech.

    Here we are saying "This software is yours, do whatever you want with it," as it was in the beginning.

    Then Microsoft came along and implemented a version of BASIC and said, pay me for this, and you can use it.

    Then it said, pay me, and you can use this version, and no other version, and nobody else can use this version -- he's gotta pay too.

    And finally evolved into, "This software is not yours. It's ours. But if you pay us, we'll let you use it--but only in ways officially sanctioned by us. After all, it's our software. And we won't tell you how you're allowed to use it until you've already agreed to the terms."

    At this point, we gain popularity, stemming from the days in the beginning when all was pure and good: "Software is owned by people. We shall not stifle creativity, talent, and the wants of users for the sake of profit. Brothers and sisters hear me, this software belongs to you. Do with it as you please."

    But these calls were stifled by Microsoft, "All your software are belong to us," they called. But, people got tired of giving money to Microsoft whenever Microsft said so. Microsoft can only make money when people buy more software... if people don't upgrade, Microsoft loses. Microsoft's biggest competitor is itself.

    "Lo", they said, "your software belongs to us. No longer shall you be constrained to ancient practices of 'purchasing,' you will now rent your software from us. You shall pay us money, and we shall let you use our software for a month."

    The free-software prophets said, "You own your own software. Do not succumb to the demands of the false gods of Redmond." And they were right. And the people agreed.

    Microsoft realized they were in trouble. "We shall persuade the people that it makes no sense to let people have `property' on their hard drive." The RIAA and MPAA agreed. Microsoft told the people, "Behold, do not believe the lies told to you by the Free Software Foundation. They go against the ideals of our society. They are un-American"

    And DMCA had been passed for the government was duped.

    But the people were wise; they should own their files. They scorned and laughed at Microsoft.

    Microsoft was angered. "We shall try to trick them into thinking that they do own their sofware. For we have a 'Shared-source' policy." They were full of crap.

    Microsoft was again scorned at. "Perhaps," they said, "it will look like they owned their software if we didn't explicitly say that we were only letting them rent it." And it was so.

    And michael said, "Microsoft has dropped the Office XP subscription plan , at least for the near future. Wonder if this means they were getting too much heat from IT managers, or if they have something else up their sleeve."
  • Currently about 60 percent of Office users work on either version 95 or 97, not the more recent Office 2000. In a strange move, the company has opted not to offer Office XP upgrades to version 95 licensees, which make up about 10 percent of Office users. They will have to pay full price.

    My personal reasoning for this is that the upgrades are usually just a little cheaper than the full version. If the upgrade was $50 people would most likely stay up to date, but as long as the upgrades are %80 of what the full version costs people will stay in the 'good enough for now' catagory. The use of year marks on there operating systems always reminds me cars.. You don't want to get a new one every year because it costs to much, but you want to stay close to the new software releases. Some people want the newest and greatest, others want a one time purchase that lasts 5 to 10 years before they replace it.
  • They are starting to face consumer resistence to change versions, as they offer nothing the consumer wants. That trend is bound only to worsen (or improve depending on your point of view). What could be the reason for an exising Office user to buy a Office XP? Difficult question. They face also a maturing PC market, with declining sales.

    So they concocted the subscription idea. The idea is good, really. After all, software is a service, and should be sold as a service. But.

    Catch 22: But you have to provide the service. There is a message before that I think is dead on. You cannot eat the soup and keep it too. That translates to You cannot sell Office as a service and charge for it too. At leas as you were charging before. If it's a service, it's a service, and you charge for the service, but not for the product, or at least something nominal. It's like having to pay a big lump of money to be able to use a taxi company. And then paying as before each time you take a cab. That could be an interesting move for the taxi company, specially if it has a monopoly. But the customers are not going to like it, and if the monopoly is not perfect, it's not going to last.

    And that's the final problem with that scheme. It is not based on customer demand. If you ask customers what do they want of Microsoft, a subscription based service is unlikely to make to the top-10. So Microsoft is doing it based only in her own insterests. That can work, as I say, with a perfect monopoly. I was really looking forward to this subscription idea. To me it looked like the moment we were going to test how strong is Microsoft monopoly, and how much it's based on not having irritated to date their lazy customers too much.

    So the news are a little dissapointing. But doesn't matter. We knew after all they were not stupid, specially not maketing stupid. But the structure of the situation is against them. They are dammed if they do, and if they don't. The software market is changing, and Microsoft will have to adapt. And any adaptation is bound to reduce her size and power, because they are based on the old paradigm, on the old market. I am really interested on seeing the next step of this soap opera.


  • by Bi()hazard ( 323405 ) on Sunday May 06, 2001 @01:18AM (#243269) Homepage Journal
    They have been having a hard sell. A friend of mine is an IT manager at a medium sized company that uses MS software and is opposed to a subscription model. They complained to MS and told them they wouldn't upgrade if the new version was subscription. MS, being helpful as always, just informed them of potential incompatibilites. (ie, the polite way of saying "suck it") The company was worried about being forced to upgrade and retrain employees (believe it or not, they already have a $150k budget for teaching people how to use windows and office), as well as the high cost of maintaining the subscription over time. With a pay up front model, at least you know exactly how much you stand to lose if things go badly, and you know exactly what you're buying. Subscriptions require trusting MS, and even businesses aren't very eager to do that. Especially the businesses who've been audited for pirated software; MS has pissed off quite a few people that way.

    p.s. before you ask, yes, he did try to get them to switch their servers to linux or bsd, and no, they didn't listen.

  • They are still going forward with it in Brazil, where they announced the whole subscription thing in a big bash with Terra Lycos. Check out the little banner on the front page:

    Terra Brazil []

    The deal would be that Terra would host Microsoft's applications, and users would also pay through Terra's systems.

    The price? About US$6 upfront, plus about US$13 monthly.
  • There are some excellent competitor software packages (OpenOffice [] is one that comes to mind, is free and is bloody brilliant - and did I mention almost 100% compatible with Office2K?) available. Microsoft know this, but the people do not, and Microsoft would like it to stay that way. That way, they can screw everyone as much as they like and no-one will know any better. Advertise OpenOffice whenever you can!
    We are Microsoft. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

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