Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

Summary: Both Windows and Office are now open for "rental". But broaden this out: would pay as you go computing be a cheaper, more viable option for students? Article


Microsoft has allowed the renting of Windows and Office, allowing users to pay for these highly popular technologies for a flat fee per year. This would greatly benefit low income but high piracy areas, but could in theory extend to students who only need Windows and Office for two or three years of their degree programme.

If this were to widen further to not only operating systems and software, but to computers, laptops or netbooks and other portable technologies, could this be a future trendsetter?

There are up sides and down sides to this. Neither one is right nor wrong, and depending on personal circumstance to licensing restrictions, it may or may not work. Nevertheless, it's a business model that could be exploited - and which Microsoft is doing so with its patent installed - and others could easily follow suit.

It could be cheaper overall (...or not)

If you know how long you will be renting a computer, say two or three years for a degree programme, it could well be cheaper to annually renew your licence for an operating system and the rest of it. Depending on time of course, it could work in your favour.

Then again, the main cost imposed for students is the hardware itself. As a student you will benefit from all kinds of offers and price reductions because you're automatically assumed to be impoverished and living off nothing but baked beans and a cold cut of bacon.

That is all good and well - only if you decide upon a Windows machine. For Apple users, the operating system ties in with the hardware and you'll still pay through your teeth for it, even with their offers available.

And of course, if you are using open-source software then you only have to pay for the hardware; massively cutting down the price you would have spent overall.

Limited in hardware due to software requirements

Again with the Mac vs. Windows debate, if you are a die-hard Mac user you may not be able to use the operating system that you are used to as the two come as a pair. Also, depending on the type of operating system and version available on rental license - such as a 32-bit edition of Windows XP - this may limit you to a non 64-bit computer even if you need one.

Manufacturers aren't going to build machines where the hardware outweighs the software.

The cloud and not being tied down

Microsoft has hit the cloud like a storm, although now they are charging for it. Amazon is one of the main competitors with its A3 service, and Google is brewing something as Apple completes the final stages of its iDatacenter build. Cloud computing is going mental - but in a good way.

With rental computers, there's a good chance this cloud business could take off a storm, and storing files in the cloud instead of on the local device means you won't be tied down to one computer. It also means big bucks for the industry and the transferability between devices when one inevitably breaks.

Would pay as you go computing take off? Could you use it as a cheaper, more viable option, or is it dead in the water and doomed to fail? The comment monster wants feeding.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • NO, it wouldn't be a cheaper option

    Does this person not REALIZE that in every single case where people have 'rented' something, they end up paying MORE than they would if they just bought the thing in question flat out?

    I realized that when I was looking at rates to rent a HD TV recently, and after adding it up realized that I could buy the thing on my credit card and end up paying less for the thing (which I would then own) than by renting it.
    • Not that simple!

      Firstly you would need a credit card and secondly you would own that copy of windows!
      You could instead stop renting the current version and then use the next version.

      Plus it depends how quickly you pay back the credit card
  • Last I checked

    MSFT tried this with office, and it was a no sale.

    When I buy a computer, it comes with an OS, typically windows. So if I am going to buy a computer, I would be better off pay the $50 for the OS from the OEM.

    And with Google Docs, and soon to come, Office Online with MSFT Office 2010, purchasing an office suite will be all but obsolete.

    Take like the College I work for. This summer we plan to migrate student e-mail over to the Live@Edu service, which would give students free access to all of those features. The 25GB sky drive, Office Live, Mesh, Sharepoint Online, Connect, and of course the Web Based Office Suite and e-mail.

    So all a student really needs is a netbook, as everything they need will be in the cloud.

    So why rent all of this stuff, when a cheap computer with a network connection is all they need, and far cheaper than leasing the OS.
  • RE: Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

    It's a good option for those who can't pay the $150 upfront. It's also a good option for people buying cheap, used computers.
  • RE: Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

    It's a Great Deal for Microsoft! All your documents are in their locked in format, so when your student is able to buy his own computer and software it will have to be a Windows machine if he wants his old docs to display properly without a lot of extra work! Better off with a cheap linux box and Open Office!
  • RE: Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

    It all depends, of course, on the price. In the cloud is not necessarily cheaper. If you pay $10 per month for Office, three years of college would cost you $360. A student copy of Office is a lot cheaper. Of course, you get automatic updates, fixes, and support -- that is worth something.
  • RE: Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

    When I was in college, we could get the software dirt cheap. At UTEP software was anywhere between $10 and $20. At Park University, we could just download software as part of the MSDNAA, at least that went for CS students anyway ^_^. Park Still offered physical OS media for students at a similarly low cost.
  • RE: Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

    Pay as you go is also known by another term: Leasing.

    The short story is Leasing is a short term savings and a
    long term higher expense; although certain tax laws do
    make it more attractive. More attractive does not equal
    best choice.

    In the long run purchasing is always the best choice. If
    it weren't there wouldn't be so many companies willing to
    rent/lease to you.
  • I can't see renting . . .

    . . . a computer, an OS, or software. The hardware would be pretty well worthless after two or three years, so you know the rental company will have collected the full value plus profit, leaving you with nothing. As for software - Linux is free, and there's an open source app for pretty much everything.
  • Be not confused

    Car dealers love to do leases. Why? They make more money.

    Sure, there are specific situations when renting a house or leasing a car might be a good decision. It is almost always during a time of heightened volatility. Vendors know that and use the fact to extract higher margins.
  • RE: Pay as you go computing: A viable way forward?

    Yes, if the service is available to individuals and not tied to one piece of hardware. I would love to use, say, Photoshop on a pay-as-you-use basis so that I could use it when I needed it on whatever platform I had handy. Now my license is tied to one physical device.