The Office 2010 Upgrade Strategy and the History of Modern Computing

Sorry for that Title, but I couldn’t find anything more appropriate for what I am about to discuss. I am still browsing the web of course, finding articles of interest. This one I came across on popular Windows Community website NeoWin which host a group of user blogs. I can’t seem to leave a comment on the article, either because of some internal error or the author of the blog is not approving comments at this time.

The author discusses his personal issue with the new Upgrade strategy Microsoft introduced with the release of Office 2010. As you might already know, the company has phased out upgrade packages that are sold at a lesser list price than the full version product. There are a number of factors that contribute to this which I will discuss. You can read the authors entire article here

Microsoft has always been a paradox of sorts. With good software comes an high costs. That is reasonable to a point. To a point. They have always been the villains of the software game and Bill Gates was "Ming the Merciless." They made their first breakthrough by stealing a granular OS from Xerox. Yep! A bit of history that is not well know. Without Bill to kick around, it has lost some of its coolness as THE firm to diss- the seat of evil. I’ve used their OS and Officr forever. I beta tested XP and Vista OS (Whistler and Longhorn) and Office XP(10), 03(11) and 07(12). I opted out of 2010(14) because I was working the PhotoshopCS5 beta. Just when you think MS is cleaning up their act they take "outrageous" to a new level. Frankly, I thought I had seen it all -that they could not longer shock me. I stand corrected. Welcome to Office 2010: The land of no upgrades!

I honestly don’t know what to make of this post. The author sounds more like a confused individual who just wants everything to be free. Microsoft is a business first of all, they make money by licensing software. Although Office 2010 is not a major departure from past releases, its certainly more mature in comparison to Office 2007. Ribbon is customizable, Find and Search dialogs have been converted to Task panes to make it easier to manipulate and edit documents faster. Integration with Windows Live and SharePoint is a whole lot better, features like collaboration between Web apps and Office desktop apps are a great experience, Outlook with its conversation view, better IRM capabilities, Sparklines in Excel for better trends in data, Access features better support for the web, 2010 is definitely a worthy upgrade. PowerPoint is so much better to work with, ability to work on multiple presentations at the same, superior video experience and the ability to publish to DVD and YouTube make it a great upgrade. Not to mention backstage which provides a great document lifecycle management facility to give you better control and management of Office files. This is just the tip of the ice berg, if you want to learn more, read the entire ActiveWin Office Professional 2010 Review here

Now, instead of accusing Microsoft and Bill Gates of stealing software, maybe the author needs to dig deeper into the history of graphical computing. Yes, the GUI did originate at XEROX Parc Research labs in Palo Alto, but Apple also saw early demos of the same thing, Jeff Raskins invited Steve Jobs along with other Apple engineers to take a look at it. Steve Jobs said he saw many things in their early concepts, Ethernet, Networking, the mouse, but it was the GUI that captivated him and he knew that this is the direction computing was heading. Bill Gates also visited the XEROX Parc labs and even bought an Alto for his employees to play with. Obviously this created some inspiration amongst early employees at the Company. Apple in exchange for Company shares asked permission to get further access to the Alto. Guess what, their employees ended up getting inspiration for the Mac GUI with a much better implementation the time.

The fact that Xerox didn’t capitalize on and patent the GUI, it was really a free for all. Xerox felt, the GUI would undermine their main business, which was printing and paper. They didn’t see how the Alto could transform that, and it was really their loss. Employees working on the Alto were fed up too and decided to leave and go to Company’s such as Apple and Microsoft that would encourage their passion and focus on actually bringing these technologies to the mainstream and mass market. That is what Apple and Microsoft did, of course, early efforts were immature, but Apple and Microsoft kept at it until we have what we have today. So, your idea that Bill Gates and Microsoft stole ideas is very not factual and it shows that you only read the surface and skim through the history of computing.

Interesting that MS did a flip-flop on free software for beta tester. They have gotten far less generous over the years to betas. In this case, they need beta tester to aid them in supporting the price jump. Had I participated, I would be disgusted right now as I would know they are trying to leverage us again the market. Keep it in mind, folks.

Beta testing:
Now, you seem to be bitter because Microsoft made it clear at the beginning of the beta program, actually this is a policy they put in place with the release of Office 12 (Office 2007) and other Microsoft beta programs, that they are not obligated to provide any free software or final release of the product at RTM. After the fiasco with Office 2003, the Company did the right thing I believe. Persons were joining the beta program, taking up space, doing nothing for months, not even submitting a bug just to get a free boxed copy of the software. How pathetic is that? The problem was further exacerbated by complaints by persons on the NeoWin forums which I am sure Microsoft employees were reading carefully: – Office 2003 Beta gifts, you can read it.

Another question, did Adobe give you a complimentary copy of  Adobe Photoshop CS5? Nope, I know because I have tested CS3, CS4 and skipped CS5 because of lack of time.

Microsoft saw what people were joining the betas for and decided to make a smart decision and end the practice. 15,000 private testers tested Office 11, come on, even a company with the resources that Microsoft has, it would be a bit of a stretch to give so many persons a complimentary copy. I was lucky enough to be in the top 60 and receive a complimentary copy, along with radio and thank you letter. It wasn’t expected, it was my first Office beta and I just wanted to genuinely participate and provide feedback to help make it a better product, a product I use everyday. To interact directly with the product teams was a great opportunity. Its voluntarily, you "chose" to go either to Microsoft BetaPlace or Microsoft Connect and sign up to provide feedback and accepted the agreement that Microsoft informed you about. Its pathetic you would spend a year or more in a beta program just for a freebie. Might as well mow a few lawns and save up to buy the product or go to a product launch, get some insight into the product and receive a complimentary copy.

All of my colleagues are mad as this will harm their profitability. Professional IT clientele are furious to the point where some I have spoken with-large enterprises-are actively considering Google-Docs or Adobe’s

Nonsense, most Enterprises are already on one of Microsoft’s licensing programs, SA or EA which means they automatically get free upgrades to the latest Microsoft programs along with support and training during their contract. Trust me, they do and its worth it for them, and it works out for Microsoft, future money in the bank as many would describe it. If you are not on EA or SA, then one of the other volume programs which support a minimum of 5 desktops such as Open Volume can also cover Office 2010. Student programs, MSDN AA, DreamSpark, BizSpark and many other ways such as the affordable Office Home and Student make it easy to upgrade to Office 2010. Also, there is a new Office Professional 2010 Academic for $99, of course you must be a registered student to purchase it, but its a great value for a powerful set of applications. Was there anything like that during Office 2007, 2003, XP or 2000? Nope! Also, you don’t need to upgrade the entire suite either, each Office product is sold separately. So if you know you are a heavy Microsoft Word user, just purchase Office Word 2010, works just fine with older versions of Office. If you find it hard to justify the upgrade, Microsoft is not forcing you to upgrade, stick with your version as long as you want. I have come across machines still running Office 97, I went to a Taylor’s shop and was surprised to see Word 6.0 on the machine (Windows 95) and its working just fine for them. Bill Gates once said, you can purchase a license from Microsoft for a particular product and never buy another one. The power is still in the consumers hands and pocket. Office 2000, 2002, 2003 even have a compatibility pack that allows you to open and save files created in 2007 or 2010, so you are not forced to upgrade either.

No upgrade packages:

The Company said they decided to do this based on a number of factors, simplification, people do not purchase upgrades like they use to, reduces production of product boxes that take up precious store real estate, saves the environment, new ways of obtaining Office digitally and Key cards. Microsoft has also made some changes to how Microsoft Office is licensed, instead of one desktop and laptop device owned by the licensee, the EULA now states 2 computers regardless of their form factors. Key cards allow users to purchase additional licenses for Office, it is similar in some ways to the Windows Anytime Upgrade license offered for Windows 7, key cards will permit only 1 installation though compared to purchasing the full boxed package and can also be used to upgrade supported editions of Office to higher edition or convert trial versions to full versions.

Office 2010 is affordable, so that obvious blooper about professional client furious about Office prices is just not true unless that Company is not on an agreement at all which would probably suggest they are happy with their current version. Yes, many businesses these days are finding ways to compliment Office, through mobile solutions and web based products such as Google docs and the new BPOS from Microsoft.

I will surely not renew my Technet subscription as they had made changes to policy on its uses. Check this out if a Technet subscriber. I have to imagine the price of a Technet sub will skyrocket because of this "Office Outrage."

TechNet has always been about non-production use, its for evaluation purposes. If you thought it was about having a loop hole to a whole lot of free non-expiry software, then I am sorry to burst your bubble. The same applies to MSDN in some cases, its about testing your products in a wide range of ways without the limitation of trial products making them as ready as possible for deployment or ready for markets you are targeting.

Try to do the research before spreading misinformation. Yes, I like Microsoft products, I do criticize the Company sometimes when they make mistakes, but your evaluation of Office 2010 pricing is absurd.


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