Is $99 too much for Office 2010?

Is $99 too much for Office 2010?

Summary: Have you used the beta of Office 2010? I have. It's incredibly slick, well-done software.

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Have you used the beta of Office 2010? I have. It's incredibly slick, well-done software. I really like Office 2007, but 2010, even in beta form (much as Windows 7 beta was to Vista) is a real leap ahead. The interface is polished and it has everything a power user could want, from Access to Word. Microsoft announced pricing for it today and, while volume licensing hasn't been hammered out, the academic version of Office 2010 Professional looks to be running $99 a pop. Upgrade pricing won't be available for current Office 2007 users.

I've asked before if Office is good enough to pay for.

...even I can’t deny that Office 2007 is worth the money, at least for a subset of users, as I look over at the document I was creating when I started this post, not in OpenOffice, not in Google Docs, but on a spare PC using Office 2007 because it was the right tool for the job.

This will remain true for Office 2010...for a small subset of users. However, if those users already have 2007 licenses, is it worth the upgrade? For $99 (or even $79, if we assume volume academic licensing will be cheaper), I can buy a toner cartridge. Or a bunch of e-books. Or send a user to a conference. Or buy a digital camera for a class. A few licenses will get a classroom a slick new device or two coming out of CES.

I spent the day in brutal budget meetings. My business manager joked, noting that a few of us happened to be wearing red, that people wouldn't notice the blood stains from a first difficult pass through budget lines that we slashed to save money. With staff and programs as our top priorities, it becomes very difficult to justify any expenses that don't directly contribute to teaching and learning. Does Office 2010 help us educate kids better? If secretaries and other power users are already adeptly doing their jobs with the excellent 2007 version of Office, does an upgrade help them do their jobs better?

And more importantly, is there any reason not to phase out Office altogether for the average user and leverage Google Apps? OpenOffice would do the trick, too. I know that Microsoft is rolling lots of technology into their 2010 products (SharePoint and Office especially) and will be upping the value proposition for their Live@Edu and other educational offerings. However, no matter how much I like Office 2010, there won't be any upgrades happening this year (or the next, for that matter). I just can't rationalize it, whether 2007 keeps doing the job or my users embrace the free Google Edu Apps for their document creation needs.

I can't expect Microsoft to give away Office to schools - this is a cash cow for them. However, deep upgrade discounts for educational institutions or drastically lower volume academic pricing would go a long ways towards keeping their desktop productivity software alive in budget-strapped schools as their own cloud implementations mature and competitors crank out the feature improvements.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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66 comments
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  • Phase out office?

    Seeing the big differences between each of the software, Isn't that a bit dangerous for the students?

    Most businesses still run on Office...
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • I wouldn't say dangerous

      I've yet to be challenged on my experience with Microsoft Office at a job interview. I've seen "Word Processing", "Experience using spreadsheets" etc. in ads before.

      Has anyone out there experienced a problem being qualified in the wrong office suite?
      AndyCee
      • Paid MS zombies

        Open_Office is free and it does everything.

        Get rid of 10gig Office Suites good grief.

        Mommy I have to have MS Office, I want it because
        it takes 10 gigs of disk space and required 4 gigs
        of ram to run with Windows 7...
        linux_kernel
        • You are the reason

          Why free software has a bad name.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • He's just stating the obvious

            About monopolized, corporate bloatware in general.
            Wintel BSOD
          • Bloatware? Windows 7 home premium runs great on most...

            netbooks. And looks great. I got my wife an HP mini 311 with win7 home premium and it's awesome. All aero features work perfectly and it's very fast and supports the most software of any OS available.
            It also has FREE Office apps, including a database, as does any Windows purchase. Microsoft Works is all non power users need.

            A full Ubuntu package with compiz, web server etc, however is too big and bloated for netbooks.

            And, if everyone started using open source, wouldn't it be monopolized then? Google apps format is proprietary, something that ABM zealots have screamed about with Office apps, but don't have a problem with Google apps.
            Why is that?
            Especially now that Office versions and sharepoint will have web versions and that Office formats have been released to the general public, your arguments are nothing more than monopolized zealot posts on zdnet.

            Keep showing your hypocrisy and double standards, it's fun to see somebody wrapped up in a cult like trance unable to think for himself.

            Hey how about RMS being ok with proprietary extensions? Even that boy is realizing that Linux has to be commercialized to go anywhere.

            But as long as there is no indemnity, most IT leaders and Venture capitalists will never touch open source because it's far too risky to have the potential of thousands, maybe 10s, maybe 100s or more thousands of owners that can sue for copyright infringment.
            That's a non starter, obviously, for most business decision makers.
            xuniL_z
          • What does Ubuntu have to do with this? (nt)

            ]:)
            GuidingLight
        • Ah but

          If you read the eua for openoffice is status very clearly it is free for personal use. and that for business use it must be paid for.
          rparker009
        • Open_Office is free and it does some things

          [i]Mommy I have to have MS Office, I want it because it takes 10 gigs of disk space and required 4 gigs of ram to run with Windows 7...[/i]

          Such a shame nobody wan'ts open office as bad. :)
          GuidingLight
      • I only ask cus

        Most job ads I see specifically mention Microsoft Office Certification.

        Personally, if most colleges and businesses rely on Office (Like mine. It's the only suite the college officially uses), "Phasing out Office" would only serve to be a bad idea. Why not just teach all 3? You really should not be putting a price on education.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
        • We don't put a price on eduction.

          The tax payers do. If they won't or can't pay for it you play the hand you've been dealt.

          Of the 16 surrounding counties we are 4th from the top in scores and 3rd from the bottom on money spent per student. It could be better score wise but our people are getting an excellent return on the money spent.
          deowll
        • "Microsoft Office Certification"?

          Is that a real thing? A certificate you can take a
          class to get? I've never heard of that.
          lostarchitect
        • Same here, Most jobs posted in the paper say MS Office experience

          required.
          That is for many different jobs, including professional types in certain fields. Sometimes it says MS Office experience a plus or preferred etc.

          Bottom line is business has a very large need for MS Office experienced people. Isn't that painfully obvious?
          More and more they are looking for people that have a working knowledge of business analytics and Sharepoint like experience.
          xuniL_z
  • RE: Is $99 too much for Office 2010?

    High school students don't establish careers based on experience using a piece of software which will already be out of date by the time half of them graduate. Teach basic word processing skills, and use OpenOffice to do it because it is free and pretty darn good (and in some ways better). Schools should exercise fiscal responsibility, and spend money on things that actually make a difference in the education received. An expensive office suite is not one of those things, when a free one provides the exact same education.
    JohnFranks2
    • Some of them do.

      I don't think any of the school staff that deals with accounting, attendance, or secretarial type jobs went past high school.

      My 8th graders or at least some of them could do a basic spread sheet because I had them do one. Of course that basic spread sheet will run on open office.

      It's the teachers and administrators that have the degrees.

      The gold level job ready students fresh out of high school are also more than ready for college. They are plenty smart and they either were or could have been at the tops of their classes.

      Up until the economy tanked these people were exactly what most employers in many companies that paid good money wanted to work with their systems.

      I spent a few days two years back with a guy who graded gravel to use in making paving. This sounds like a crap job at first blush but he got paid good money and was a big shot because if he goofed it would cost the company millions. He used excel to keep up with data and the company used excel to send him data. He had a high school degree.
      deowll
  • RE: Is $99 too much for Office 2010?

    Excellent points all around. I've got the 2010 beta and it is
    slick. The improved interface makes me think Microsoft
    actually listened to a user or two.

    Do I/will I need it? Liking is not needing.

    Small business here. Can I afford it? Not if it means cutting
    something I need, rather than like.
    joedid
  • Mercedes and Volkswagen

    A Mercedes is a wonderful car. But why buy one, when you're short of cash and a Volkswagen would also suit your needs?

    Clearly, Microsoft Office is (still) superior quality. Better than the alternatives. But the question is not: which is the better Office suite. The question is: which Office suite will do a good job for the least amount of money.

    Open Office is the Volkswagen here, I think: good, reliable, will do the job well....
    pjotr123
  • Is $0 for OpenOffice.org too much?

    Seriously,

    CFOs are seething with yet more licensing fees to consider on top of tight- or no- budget or budget deficit scenarios.

    IT Departments need to provide a solid justification for these expense items. Right now with a recession, any way not to spend money is the de rigueur, so making do with existing software, e.g., Office 2007 (or older) will be well received.

    Besides, why would anyone with common sense pay for MS Office 2010 when they could have OpenOffice running on their Desktop (Linux or Windows) for FREE?

    OpenOffice: It's a 'no-brainer'.

    Eyes wide open CFOs!
    D T Schmitz
    • I've said it before and I'll say it again

      OOo does not have all the functionality of MS Office. That is why.

      http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-17923-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=73526&messageID=1422066

      Personally, I rely a lot on OneNote for class notes. Last time I checked OOo does not have a program like this. (Also I much prefer the RibbonUI, to the drop down menus of yesteryear).
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • OpenOffice: More than 'good enough' for most user needs

        Average Office users don't access more than 20% of the feature set on a daily basis.

        And a Drop-Down menu vs Ribbon is hardly an 'impediment' to worker productivity.

        But feel free to repeat yourself Nicholas. ;)
        D T Schmitz