Subscription-only Microsoft Office? Don't hold your breath, says Microsoft

Subscription-only Microsoft Office? Don't hold your breath, says Microsoft

Summary: Subscription services are the future, says Microsoft – but it may take a decade before everyone agrees with it.


While Adobe has decided to the ditch the boxed software concept, Microsoft says it will take a little longer before Office is sold by subscription only.

Earlier this week Adobe announced it is moving to a cloud subscription model for Creative Cloud suite. Writing on Microsoft's Office News blog, Office division head of comms Clint Patterson described Adobe as a "pioneer" and added: "Some pundits point to this as the future, others explore challenges, and a few wonder if Office is next." 

Answering the question, he added: "Like Adobe, we think subscription software-as-a-service is the future. The benefits to consumers are huge. Subscribers are always up-to-date. They get the latest and most complete applications. They can use subscriptions across the multitude of devices people use today."

Products like SkyDrive and Skype are also more easily integrated with subscription services, Patterson said.

"However, unlike Adobe, we think people's shift from packaged software to subscription services will take time. Within a decade, we think everyone will choose to subscribe because the benefits are undeniable," he added.

Microsoft is gradually evolving from being a seller of packaged software to being a services company — but a ten year transition may be longer than some industry watchers would have expected.

Many software companies are looking at moving to cloud and subscription models: as well as Adobe, CA Technologies recently said it wanted to shift to software as a service for as many of its products as possible. However, not all tech chiefs are convinced that Saas is the only way forward for enterprise software.

Patterson said Microsoft remains "committed to offering choice" in the form of packaged software and subscriptions.

Since the launch of Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University in January, more than a quarter of consumers buying Office have chosen the subscription. "This exceeded our expectations, given that software subscriptions are relatively new to most consumers. So, perhaps the shift is happening faster than we originally thought, and Adobe is helping blaze the trail," Patterson wrote.

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Microsoft

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  • ROFL

    MSFT really is the king of marketing BS! ... and ZDNET really is the place to gorge on such nonsense.

    1. Can someone from MSFT please compare the removal of traditional Windows OS features from 8 (e.g. Start, multiple windows, no 30% tax, ...) ... with the 'it'll take a decade'.
    Yeah MSFT doesn't want to pay APPL's 30% tax ... but it's OK for MSFT customers to pay MSFT.

    2. The majority like the cloud and subscriptions and see benefits ... we just don't like the HIDEOUSLY LARGE cost. Do not continue insulting our intelligence by quoting all the good points and then charging the Earth.

    3. Yeah, RAID was invented in 1988, the Internet came to prominence in the 90's ... and you are now promoting SKYDRIVE. What took you so astonishingly long? And I have to pay for anything above 25GB? I can buy 3TB for $100. Do you think I am stupid? (OK, many ZDNET bloggers appear to be stupid. It's an act: I understand, but do not approve, the motivation.)

    The name Patterson is sadly ironic, for he was a co-designer of RAID.
    You know r a of INEXPENSIVE d?
    You don't know - you're another loser.
    • Show me the ...

      If the apathetic and the sheep DO move to subscriptions quickly, then MSFT will follow the money in a blink.

      That's my worry: ZDNET and other media sheep are so ... ovine :-(
      • Did you forget to take your meds this morning?

        • No ...

          .. I don't take any.

          Mind you, if I were a drug addict, subscriptions would be reducing my intake ;-)

          Did you forget to counter my argument, sheep?
    • What features were removed in Win 8?

      Since the desktop is still there and better than ever, perhaps you don't understand that the Windows 8 App model is additive to the traditional desktop app model.
      • The desktop in Win 8 is not better than ever

        Windows 8 desktop is missing several things versus Windows 7 desktop. Gadgets are the biggest thing I miss. In order to "glance" at our live information feeds, we are forced to go to a different screen with a different interface. Aero is gone. The UI on Windows 8 is closer to Windows XP than Windows 7. Some system maintenance functions cause you to pop back and forth between two user interfaces. There are many differences that somebody who only uses Facebook would never notice. Those of us who use our desktops heavily noticed immediately.
        • The ...

          ... number of people who actually use desktop gadgets is vanishingly miniscule. And how many people are now less functional now that the window borders aren't semi transparent?

          Compare that with the many current (and several imminent) desktop improvements including FAR better multi-monitor improvements, MUCH better file copy/move perf and monitoring, VASTLY improved task manage, etc.
          • Hmm...

            No fan of Windows 8, but I believe MS discontinued gadgets due to security concerns and even recommended they be uninstalled from earlier Windows editions. (Though you can get them back in 8 via third-party solutions if you really, really want them: )

            There are other ways to get your info in real-time anyway, though. I use both traditional Windows apps with taskbar tray icons and browser add-ons.
          • the improvements in the desktop merely bring it up from substandard

            to standard, all of them should have been implemented in late XP or with early windows 7.
        • Missing

          You think gadghets is a big thing missing? With all the crap open on your desktop, you actually see your gadgets? Oh and I don't think anyone really makes gadgets anymore.
          I'm sure many don't have a feed issue.
          Aero gone? Good, that's less computing time wasted on the GUI.
          So really, you didn't mention whsat was actually removed that benefited the majority.
      • My point was ...

        ... that MSFT, as quoted, were offering a 'softly, softly' approach to Office cloud subscriptions v Office standard MSI install ...

        ... but when it came to the OS standard stuff: like the start button/menu etc. these were withdrawn without notice and despite early feedback. A bit like running a screening for a film, everybody saying they hated the ending ... and leaving things as they were. Losing.

        Its too late now to reverse course: the damage is largely done. I've had IT illiterate people telling me Windows 8 is no good. As my marketing director used to say "You're only as good as people think you are."
        • There's Real Competition For Productivity Apps; Not Nearly So Much For OS

          Office has to compete with a number of free or subscription-based options (Open Office, Libre Office, Google Docs, etc.) so it can't dictate much of anything.

          However, Linux and Apple notwithstanding, there is not any real alternative to Windows for most users, home and corporate, so it can play the 800 pound gorilla and do anything it bloody well pleases with the OS.
    • Of course the consumer harddrive

      is cheaper, but not what is used in the datacenters for SkyDrive. Also, I have 45GB on one account, between having already been on Hotmail ages ago and getting the free upgrade and then purchasing Office 365 Home Premium. I am sure the space will gradually be increased over time. I remember when 1GB was a lot of space.
      • Are you telling me then that ...

        ... instead of paying the price for a 'good enough' consumer drive - you want to pay vastly more for a 'business class' drive?
        What I'm telling you is that Patterson et al invented the solution to this problem in 1988: it was called RAID, where the I stood for INEXPENSIVE.

        If a consumer drive is $100 and the cloud is so good/efficient/worthy ... why or why do you want to pay more when technology costs are steadily reducing? Because you are a sheep!
      • Hmmmm

        Wondering why anyone needs more than a few GB of storage [ok, other than marketing people] of personal storage. My Docs on my system totals about 5.5 GB and that includes pictures and the odd family videos.
        Get rid of unneccessary stuff and it can drop to under 2 GB easily.
    • Apple Tax?

      I keep reading about this so called Apple Tax....yet, I have many Apple Products and never once have I paid a 30% tax (and no, Apple products are not 30% higher than comparably equipped systems, they may be about 5% higher, but usually not much more than that).
      • Where have you been?

        5% higher?
        Take the typical MacBook, look at the specs and the compare with a compatible Windows computer [exclude Acer as their systems are crap]. If you're going to tell me that the Mac is just 5% more, I'd be shocked.
        Mac at $1300 [on sale]:
        PC at $1100 [on sale]:
        Same CPU series, same memory, same SSD, same screen size. Not 30% cheaper but almost 20%.
        But remove the tiny SSD and get a regular hard disk and the price is about $600 for the same specs.
    • Errr....

      Useless comments.
  • why all the hate

    why are all the haters jumping down the throat of anyone that does not love MS W8 why cant we dislike what it is and where its going. We have a mind and we have eyes and we able to think and reason and we have found W8 lacking from where it was to where they are shoving us. ALL companies want to make things cheaper for themselves but not necessarily for us. If we go to an SUB model we have to pay them our hard earn money to use there services(look how leasing a car works for us) that does not sit right with me rent for all my days never owning anything. Its Anti American in my book. But when everything is on the internet we own nothing we are subjected to always have internet (its not cheep) everywhere for that is where they are going.
  • MS wants to move slowly…?

    Are you kidding? They would be happy to drop the desktop and all legacy software immediately and force us all into renting software ASAP.

    However, they have seen the backlash of negative comments about Adobe’s move and so the official MS stand is “we’re going to do it slowly.” Truth is, they’re chortling with glee over Adobe’s move because they believe it will accelerate the shift to SaaS.

    Heaven knows, they’re having to deal with enough backlash over Windows 8; they do not need more customer dissatisfaction by forcing SaaS onto a disgruntled customer base.

    Of SaaS, MS says: “The benefits to consumers are huge…” What BS. The monetary benefits to MS will be what is huge.