Back in February, a time that now seems ages ago, Microsoft rolled out Office 2013. It wasn’t a big surprise – we all knew it was on the way, some of us had even been using the beta version of the suite. What came as a bit of a surprise was that Office 2013 arrived in two flavors – the traditional “buy-it” software and a subscription service, known as Office 365 Home Premium.
Don’t get me wrong, the latter really isn’t different from a software perspective. Where it varies is in the approach. Yes, you will get the full Office suite installed on your computer and it will work just like the 2010 version did. But there’s a bonus – customers get five licenses. In addition, these are transferrable. Got rid of an old computer? No problem, just head to the site and cancel the license on it. You’ll get it back to use on the new system. To sweeten the deal, the company throws in 20 GB of extra SkyDrive storage and 60 Skype minute per month.
Fast forward to 2014 and we may just see this same concept from Microsoft’s flagship – the operating system. We’ve already heard that Windows “Threshold” will be arriving by 2015, with an update to Windows 8.1 arriving before that. We can only speculate on what it will bring with it.
The bottom line is this: Microsoft has wanted to make its software a subscription for some time – a continuous revenue stream, as opposed to a one-time windfall. It pads the bottom line. It also paves the way for other software to head in the same direction.
The news I am trying so gently to break to you is -- that Windows 8.2 will probably be debiting your bank account on a monthly basis. Get used to it. Things are not returning to the old model.
Will this arrive in Threshold? That’s hard to say, but, given the Office success, I see no reason why it wouldn’t. Will it carry the same bonuses that came with Office 365 Home Premium? Who knows. It’s hard to see Microsoft allowing customers to install its operating system on multiple computers for one fee. Then again, I would have said the same about the rest of the company’s products if you’d asked me a year ago.
Are monthly fees annoying? Of course they are. I find it hard to track everything these days – there’s Google Play Music, Crashplan backup, Office 365 Home Premium….I feel as if I am being nickeled and dimed to death.
But you know what? I keep paying for all of them, and Microsoft now knows this to. Armed with that knowledge, it’s unlikely a retreat is in the cards. But, the question is this? Do we really want a retreat?
I have a desktop and two laptops. My wife, and each of my two children, have laptops. That’s six computers if you’re counting, but two are Chromebooks, so subtract them. Four PC’s works just fine for a subscription, and $9.95 per month is not too much to pay for that. Think of the cost if I bought those four separate licenses for Office 2013. Then multiply my monthly fee to two years and do the math. When the next Office version comes out then I am ahead, and by tidy margin.
Will Windows 8.2/Threshold be the dawning of the operating system subscription? Microsoft isn’t saying yet, but there is little doubt that the company is keeping careful tabs of Office success and the news for the company is good.
What is my own personal opinion? If Windows 8.2 ships as a service then I say, go ahead Microsoft, carry me across the Threshold. Once again, I expect to be the one coming out ahead.