Microsoft Office Goes Subscription

ScreenshotMicrosoft today announced the launch of Equipt, a new suite consisting of the Windows Live OneCare security service and Office Home and Student 2007. What’s different here is the pricing: $69.99 per year on an annual subscription basis, covering three computers. Equipt users get whatever upgrades ship to their products during the duration of the subscription – and no right to use the software at all if they stop paying. Circuit City will be the initial retailer, but deals are in the works with other stores and OEMs.

While the pricing seems to be a reaction to the pressure that Office has been getting from beneath, between online alternatives like Google Docs and Zoho and free software like OpenOffice.org, I don’t think that it’s low enough to be a game-changer. You can buy a full copy of Office Home and Student already for $110 (yes, there is some value to the additional pieces of the bundle, but those services aren’t the marquee attraction here); the gap between that and $70 is insignificant compared to the gap between either price and “free.” While Equipt may pick up some marginal business from multi-computer household who assume that Windows is everything, it won’t help with the continued nibbling away of the Office franchise by Google and company. Even web workers who require Office for high-end compatibility won’t find Equipt to be a bargain at that price.

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