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Microsoft to Charge for Office Beta 190

theodp writes "Beginning next Wednesday, those who download the 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 will be charged $1.50 per download, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman." From the article: "Although Microsoft's Information Worker Product Management Group decided to initiate a fee for new users of Beta 2, the "technical refresh," or update, for current users of the software will remain free, the spokeswoman said. Those who want to test drive Beta 2 to review how it works can access the software for free. But if they need to test it against their internal systems, a download or the CD is required. "
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Microsoft to Charge for Office Beta

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  • by save_the_fauna ( 991285 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:41AM (#15804472) Homepage
    Seriosly, what features do people use in Word?
    I've only ever used
    - Bold, Italics, Underline
    - Single/Double spacing
    - Left/Center/Right Align
    - Page breaks
    - Footnotes
    - Font/Point Size adjustment
    - Pagination
    - Spell check (though not grammer check)
    - I'm probably missing one or two

    I know some people who use images in word documents, as well as that 'track changes' feature. But 99% of the features are useless to me. I'd be perfectly happy with Word v.5 (for mac), though it doesn't run natively on OSX.
  • by RonnyJ ( 651856 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:41AM (#15804473)
    Most people that want to beta test Office 2007 would have already downloaded it - it's been downloadable for free for over two months now.
  • <stainlesssteelcap> (Score:5, Interesting)

    by celotil ( 972236 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @02:58AM (#15804529) Homepage

    Microsoft is doing this not to offset bandwidth costs - well, maybe not just to offset bandwidth costs. They're doing this to test a newer method of buying MS software, a method that gets the general public used to the idea of continuously paying for Office, then Windows, then probably MS's entire software line.

    Imagine, thirty days down the road from time of purchase of a surprisingly cheap copy of Office you get a little pop-up notice telling you that you need to re-register Office, all for the low cost of $1.50.

    Every month you get this little notice, and you re-register. It's just a buck-fifty right?

    Hmm. Let's say you use the same copy of Office, purchased for the low, low! price of $49.95, for two years. Every month you pay that meager $1.50.

    49.95 + (24 x 1.50) = $85.95

    Not much compared to the current cost for Office Retail, but what about Windows, MS Anti-virus/Spyware, Age of Empires IV...

    Let's say Windows is the same price as Office - that's another $85.95 - and the Anti-virus is just marginally cheaper - $24 = 24 x $1.

    $85.95 x 2 + $24 = $195.90

    $195.90, every two years, paid by people who are likely to purchase their computer pre-made with Windows and Office already installed.

    I have no official reason to believe this, that's just my take on the situation.


  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:01AM (#15804539)
    I think you will find that there are a vast number of people that use Word, indeed MS Office, completely illegally because they happen to be able to get a copy of a CD from their place of work or from a friend/relative - I personally am surrounded by computer-literate people, many with 3 or 4 PCs in the house, but *not one* of them (to my knowledge) has ever paid for MS Office or Windows XP, unless the latter was pre-installed on a new machine.

    Yes, I know some people at work who do use a lot of advanced features, particularly in Excel, that are therefore justified in using MS Office specifically. However, for the level most of us have to go to, OpenOffice works perfectly well.

    It always amuses me that people are very quick to criticise OpenOffice in comparison to MS Office - but then when you remind those same people that MS Office is a *commercial* office suite whereas OpenOffice is a free one and then ask them if they paid for their copy of MS Office, they tend to go very quiet.

    OpenOffice has a way to go to catch up with MS Office but for 90% of normal users, even it will do far more than those users are ever likely to need - and do it in file formats based on open standards.

  • by enosys ( 705759 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:22AM (#15804603) Homepage
    I don't think Microsoft is being particularly evil here. If anything they're being pretty nice offering a free Vista beta and an almost free Office beta. For example, did Apple give out free Tiger betas? $1.50 isn't much. I first thought it was kind of ridiculous to bother charging that but then I noted the article says the beta has been downloaded 3 million times so far so it'll certainly add up.

    The one thing that bothers me about this is that they haven't considered P2P. They say the price is to offset the cost of downloading from their servers. Well, why don't they offer the beta via BitTorrent for free and just charge for downloading from their servers? I reallize their cost still wouldn't be zero per download but it should be quite small and acceptable.

  • Re:$1.50? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @03:45AM (#15804671) Journal
    Hmm. And here I was thinking it was predatory and illegal business practices, which they are now using to milk the customer for all they have.

    $1.50? Bullshit. Unless the betas are non-expiring, it's test software. Why should we pay to test their software? If they want to test on a wide scale they need to figure it into the budget or stop and use a sign-up method.

    Three million downloads? Big deal. They act like that's a lot these days. Other companies get away with it, and don't charge more.

    It's just a show of how belligerent they've become to their customer base. They know they'll sell a bazillion copies of it, so they really don't give a shit.
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:06AM (#15804727) Homepage Journal
    My boss has a theory about free software (of any type, OSS/pirated/beta/given away).
    He says that if you pirate software (or otherwise get it free) then you have no vested interest in making sure it works for you. If you come across a problem with something you paid nothing for, you are less likely to try very hard to get it resolved.
    However, once you have paid for something the mindset becomes "why isn't my program working".

    Don't know if this is the case with microsoft, but it kindof makes sense.
  • by Duhavid ( 677874 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:11AM (#15804733)
    In case you were asking a serious question...

    On the Microsoft hatred topic...why the heck is there so much anti-microsoft sentiments

    I started out liking Microsoft. My disaffect grew out of seeing the
    installer for Windows ( I think 3.1 ) tell me that the OS/2 install that
    I had on my machine was something I should remove cause it was just
    taking up space. The wording was something I recall as being very
    likely for someone unexperienced to decide to remove it. The years
    of hearing from Microsoft that their products where enterprise ready,
    when they just were not. The Stac and Novell DR Dos issues were not
    handled with honor, in my opinion. The 94 consent decree, all but
    ignored. The issue of coercing OEM's into the "pay for a license for
    every machine that leaves the building, or pay more, regardless of
    what is actually on the machine" ( how can the "free market" decide in
    the face of a built in price step like that ). All the nonsense about
    "this is about removing our ability to innovate" on the last round
    of anti trust legal wrangling. Running Netscape out of business for
    the most part, then having the gall to say that the aquisition of Netscape
    by AOL was proof that there was plenty of freedom and competition. The
    decision to embed IE deeper into the system, a stupid decision, excepting
    for how it allowed them to manipulate things legally. Microsoft's talk
    of innovation, but constantly seeing others break trail, only to have
    Microsoft come in later and "take their lunch" ( then complaining about
    Google taking their lunch, when the only reason there is competition
    between Google and Microsoft, is because Microsoft decided to enter
    Google's market niche. Which brings me to the point of Microsoft seeming
    to need to enter every niche in existance, to make it so that Microsoft
    is the only company left standing ( yeah, they havent succeeded, but it
    isnt because they havent tried ). The reduction of innovation that the
    preceeding point brings ( yeah, I'm going to invest in your startup,
    but first, how are you going to keep Microsoft from taking it all from
    you, if you prove this is a winner ). All the hoopla about Microsoft
    innovating, when the real effect is the opposite. I could go on, but
    I think I have hit the high notes.

    Hate them? No, not really. But I dont like them, nor the effect that they
    have had. No, that effect has not been 100% bad, but it could have been
    so much better.
  • by Clovert Agent ( 87154 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:13AM (#15804740)
    Upgrading aside (because I wonder about that too), your point about using 1% of the package is an important one, but wrong. It's wrong because although it's true, the fact is that not everyone uses the same 1%.

    I'm a professional writer, and I use much less of a word processor's feature set that you'd probably expect: an even shorter list than yours. But some tools are just fundamental, like word count: the only thing that kept me away from OpenOffice and on Office for ages was simply the lack of a good word count tool. Then someone wrote a macro to do it, and that was fine, and then it became a feature of OOo 2, so that's great. And I now use OpenOffice.

    The same thing will apply everywhere. That's how vendors (and OSS groups) have to target their features: aim for feature wishes shared by large groups of users, even though that will mean that the entire rest of the userbase perceives it as feature-creep. (Slow startup in OpenOffice is a big one for lots of users, for example, but I couldn't care less: I have documents open all day and it doesn't affect me.)

    One way to avoid creep is through modules or extensions, like the Linux kernel and Firefox, to pick to examples at extreme opposite ends of the spectrum. Which is fine (apart from the burden on the user of finding the extension he needs in the first place), but I have a lot of problems with Firefox extension stability and the lack of quality control there worries me: it may put some users off the browser, when it is simply a poorly-coded extension at fault. Not everything can be coded to the discipline of the kernel.
  • New Business model? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @05:58AM (#15804964)
    Charging for bug hunting. Not bad. Microsoft sells hunting permissions. A business idea for the future.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM