I’ve been a Microsoft Office user for as long as I can remember. I moved to Word and Excel when Wordperfect and Lotus 1-2-3 were still the top dogs in word processing and spreadsheet software. But now, the move to a subscription model for the new Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium (what a mouthful so I will refer to this as “Office 2013” in the rest of my screed) has me seriously considering abandoning the product (for the most part).
To start, I don’t like subscribing for things that I have traditionally owned in the past because I know at some point in time I may want to stop paying. With subscription models for software once you stop paying you are cut off. You lose a great deal of the software’s functionality. Today, what I just heard on the Windows Weekly podcast with Paul Thurott and Mary Jo Foley is that with Office 2013 users will not lose the ability to read files but will lose the ability to edit them. At least we’d have that going for us.
Subscribing to products at these prices is just wrong and not the same as subscribing to a service. Services are something you inherently can’t own because it’s ephemeral. It’s there when you use it and gone as soon as you stop.
Consider the difference between Office 2010, which I have been using since the middle of 2010, and Office 2013. With Office 2010 I own the product and have it installed on four of my computers (two desktops and two laptops). I have no real need to upgrade. The software already has more functionality than I can possibly use. Why would I want to change to Office 2013 that has the power to cut me off once I stop paying? What’s the incentive?
Skydrive is certainly not an incentive as I’ve been using Dropbox for years. I have about 40 GB of documents and various files stored with the service. It costs me $100/year for 100 GB of storage and I use it across all my devices. What’s my incentive to switch all this over to Skydrive? Nothing. Now, the argument might be, “Hey, you’re subscribing to Dropbox what’s the difference?” Well the difference is that when I stop paying Dropbox the only thing I lose is the syncing services across devices. I don’t lose the ability to access my files as they reside on several different machines. Because Dropbox is a service that I pay for like cell phone, Internet connection, and electricity. Office 2013 is a product and not a service. Why would I pay into a product for years and own nothing?
What is s good replacement for Office 2013? How about Google Drive. Sure, it’s not as full featured as Office 2013 but it has “good enough” functionality and my documents will be backed up twice to Google’s cloud and Dropbox. And it’s FREE. I can start using that for most of my work and utilize Office 2010 when I need something more advanced like revision tracking in Word. How about Open Office? That’s free too. There are many options available today that are “good enough” to do most of the work that people do. If Google had a killer instinct they would pour resources into Google Drive to increase it’s functionality just enough to where only true power users would need Office.
I’m halfway to this conversion away from Office already as I stopped using Outlook in the middle of 2012. I stopped using it because my phone OS is Android and Outlook was becoming an impediment to how I work. It is so easy and smooth to use Google Contacts, Calendar, and Gmail for all my communications and appointments. I don’t have to sync with a computer EVER. I login and it’s just there.
All this could change if the pricing models would change. Right now it’s far too expensive to pay $10 monthly (this seems to be the psychological sweet point) for software, music, and movies in addition to all the other things that are true necessities. I’m quite confident I can get by with Office 2010 for the foreseeable future. If Office 2013 were maybe 75% or even 50% cheaper and I can use it on any device where I’m logged into my Microsoft account then that might be compelling. But at the current price I’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into using the new version. I won’t use it until I absolutely positively have no other choice.