Monday, December 17th 2018

Future Microsoft Office Versions Look to be Subscription Only

A job listing posted by Microsoft is being hailed as sign of subscription-based times to come to the company's Office 365 and Windows products. Honestly, I believe this to be a matter of time - Subscription services have been increasing at an alarming rate, Microsoft has already tasted the advantages of such a model on their bottom line with their Xbox Live and Games Pass systems, and of course, there're always the ever-giant Spotifys and Netflixes of this world.

Windows and Office as a service is nothing out of the ordinary, really. The job listing for a "Product Manager, M365 Consumer Subscription - Modern Life & Devices (MLD)", which has a job description along the lines of "market a great new Microsoft 365 Consumer Subscription" doesn't come as a surprise. Going from this Office 365 consumer subscription to a Windows one is a bit of a stretch on the basis of the job posting alone, but it is in the foreseeable future for Microsoft's strategy to safeguard Windows and its updates behind a monthly payment, ensuring that one-off purchases are no longer a thing - and guaranteeing a predictable revenue stream.
Of course, enterprises usually prefer to own things instead of having them in a rent model, but Office 365 for businesses has already paved the way for tighter integration of subscription services in the professional world. For users, though... Microsoft would just love to put their hands in a steady revenue stream from the OEM market - licenses for Microsoft's OS could ship with one or two years in-box, with subsequent version updates (outside the usual security updates, we'd guess and hope) would be locked behind a monthly payment. There's no way this model would leave users better off than before - Microsoft wouldn't change a model to one that would bring them less revenue, and the OEM market is a huge source of untapped, renewable revenue. We'll see how this shakes up. Sources: Microsoft, PCgamesHardware.de
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62 Comments on Future Microsoft Office Versions Look to be Subscription Only

#1
StrayKAT
If this happens, I'll almost definitely put up with Linux full time. And I'm one of the few people here who seems to be a bonafide Microsoft fan (and doesn't merely tolerate them).
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#2
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
I believe this to be alarmism. The job listing follows on the heels of MS saying last couple weeks they would be bringing Office 365 subscriptions to consumer land.

In other words, it’s an office 365 job. Nothing more has been said anywhere or mentioned in the announcement.
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#3
the54thvoid
I wonder if they're even allowed to go on subscription for an OS? The EU would likely argue it to be unfair under competition law given most store bought PC's come with an OS by MS. Until games (and all other software) is 100% transferable to other OS, I can't see it being allowed (if to use software 'X', you need to also pay MS a monthly fee).
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#4
trog100
the54thvoid said:
I wonder if they're even allowed to go on subscription for an OS? The EU would likely argue it to be unfair under competition law given most store bought PC's come with an OS by MS. Until games (and all other software) is 100% transferable to other OS, I can't see it being allowed (if to use software 'X', you need to also pay MS a monthly fee).
i see it as inevitable.. it all fits in with the six monthly upgrades and windows as a service concept which we are being conditioned into..

trog
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#5
IceScreamer
If I ever find a way to run Autodesk software on Linux I'll move for good, right now I'm locked in.
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#6
GinoLatino
An OS as a subscription? Get lost!
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#7
GlacierNine
A linux expert I am not, but expect increased migration if this comes to pass. I for one would be absolutely willing to switch if Steam Play got good enough to bring my games library with me.

That said, I really doubt Microsoft can justify this internally. I expect it to be nothing, at least for now.

And even if in a few years time they do offer a subscription license, I expect it to be at least at first, something where both flavours will be available to consumers before the standalone is phased out. Plenty of time for people to contribute to WINE or other compatibility efforts and put the fear of Open Source into Microsoft - Especially businesses, who will see longterm volume licensing as a potential money-pit and will doutbless start looking into migration en-masse.
Posted on Reply
#8
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
:shadedshu::shadedshu: So many people willingly being led down the path like sheep to the slaughter. This would be FUD if one of us members wrote it.
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#9
Jack1n
They cannot do it for Windows 10, maybe for a future OS.
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#10
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
rtwjunkie said:
I believe this to be alarmism. The job listing follows on the heels of MS saying last couple weeks they would be bringing Office 365 subscriptions to consumer land.
Moar Windows 10/Office headaches.
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#11
the54thvoid
rtwjunkie said:
:shadedshu::shadedshu: So many people willingly being led down the path like sheep to the slaughter. This would be FUD if one of us members wrote it.
I don't see it happening, my thought was more about the practicality of it from a competition perspective.
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#12
dorsetknob
"YOUR RMA REQUEST IS CON-REFUSED"
You All ready Rent/lease the OS. All Microsuck will have to do is Change the Terms and conditions from a indefinite Renewal (OS update included ) lease time. to an Annual based lease (OS update included subscription extra).
Posted on Reply
#13
GlacierNine
Jack1n said:
They cannot do it for Windows 10, maybe for a future OS.
They've stated for a few years now that W10 will be the last "ever" version of Windows, and will be incrementally updated forever.

It will still technically be W10 if this ever happens, but I just don't see anything in that job posting that indicates they're planning on doing this now.

The simple fact is, MS aren't stupid enough to give Linux and FOSS OS solutions the massive helping hand that a W10 subscription model would give them in terms of wider adoption. If they made that decision, it would be a matter of maybe a decade before Linux became a dominant OS in some fields, simply because of the huge spur of development it would receive.

Remember, Linux isn't just about which programmers want to give up their spare time to contribute to the ecosystem - There are already businesses who get paid to contribute to said ecosystem, like Red Hat, Canonical and so on. If MS fuck up and push their pricing for Windows too high, these companies will receive cash injections from businesses looking to cut longterm costs via a short-term investment in switching to FOSS or partially FOSS solutions.

If they decide that it IS worth that, it's a small jump from there, to seeing companies spring up specialising in migrating between OS's for companies, and developing custom tools, software, compatibility layers, etc.

Those efforts in turn would pave the way for commercial entities to make more software for linux and contribute to the existing ecosystem in a way that would have benefits for consumers looking to make the same switch. Cross compiling for different architectures or OS's isn't easy, but it's already done on the larger scale and the primary reason there isn't already a huge effort to replace windows with these FOSS solutions, is Windows relatively affordable pricing, which makes it more cost effective for businesses to buy licenses for software people are already familiar with, rather than to pay for retraining staff to use new software. Make the longterm cost of that too high and even Microsoft's virtual monopoly on consumer OSs will swiftly disappear.
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#14
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
the54thvoid said:
I don't see it happening, my thought was more about the practicality of it from a competition perspective.
I took your post for that! It was directed at others blindly following and the article itself.
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#16
ironwolf
Pretty sure Microsoft said just before Office 2019 came out that 2019 was going to be the last version to offer the perpetual license version of the product, that everything moving forward was going to be sub based or what not.
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#17
Parn
Ridiculous. The only thing that keeps me on Windows is gaming or else I'd move to Linux full time. Not even greedy Apple is planning this for macOS.
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#18
chaosmassive
To do List by for that moar sweet sweet dollars stream ! :
- Rental mobile phone (NOT APPLE)
- Rental Games
- Rental Movies/TV Series
- Rental Music
- Rental Ms Office

- Rental Operating System
- Rental PC, embed special chip to brick your PC after certain period of time or you do not pay the subcription

you own NOTHING, we own YOU !
Posted on Reply
#19
Hugh Mungus
GlacierNine said:
A linux expert I am not, but expect increased migration if this comes to pass. I for one would be absolutely willing to switch if Steam Play got good enough to bring my games library with me.

That said, I really doubt Microsoft can justify this internally. I expect it to be nothing, at least for now.

And even if in a few years time they do offer a subscription license, I expect it to be at least at first, something where both flavours will be available to consumers before the standalone is phased out. Plenty of time for people to contribute to WINE or other compatibility efforts and put the fear of Open Source into Microsoft - Especially businesses, who will see longterm volume licensing as a potential money-pit and will doutbless start looking into migration en-masse.
Maybe for security updates on new "pro" versions and such? Dunno. EU would almost certainly crush windows subscription if it was the only ms option.
Posted on Reply
#20
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
ironwolf said:
Pretty sure Microsoft said just before Office 2019 came out that 2019 was going to be the last version to offer the perpetual license version of the product, that everything moving forward was going to be sub based or what not.
That’s what I remember them saying, as well.
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#21
remixedcat
rtwjunkie said:
I believe this to be alarmism. The job listing follows on the heels of MS saying last couple weeks they would be bringing Office 365 subscriptions to consumer land.

In other words, it’s an office 365 job. Nothing more has been said anywhere or mentioned in the announcement.
Office 365 home and personal allready exist. I use Office365 home and biz.
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#22
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
remixedcat said:
Office 365 home and personal allready exist. I use Office365 home and biz.
Correct. Just relating what MS has been saying.
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#23
GlacierNine
dorsetknob said:
You All ready Rent/lease the OS. All Microsuck will have to do is Change the Terms and conditions from a indefinite Renewal (OS update included ) lease time. to an Annual based lease (OS update included subscription extra).
I'd like to know what the relevant parts of this document are to support that assertion: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Useterms/Retail/Windows/10/UseTerms_Retail_Windows_10_English.htm

From a relatively brief reading, I saw nothing in the document that indicates Microsoft can change the expectation of payment or form of payment from the consumer. It only covers that the software is licensed and not sold, to the consumer. Also, NONE of the words "Cancel" "Renewal" or "Payment" appear in the document at any point. The word "End" does appear, but only twice, as part of "End Users" and "End Use".

This page https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/servicesagreement/ also does not seem to cover anything to do with eventualities wherein Microsoft may ask you to begin paying for software to which you already hold a valid license that was not sold under the provision said license was time-limited.

Finally and foremostly, I do not believe it is legal for any software company to sell an unlimited license for the use of any software, and to then deny users access to that software according to that license, unless the consumer has violated the terms of the license agreement in some way. Even if Microsoft were to update the terms of the license, consumers should have the option to continue using a version of the software that was provided according to the older terms, and simply to agree to the cessation of supplementary services provided by the vendor/retailer as part of that agreement if they refuse to agree to the updated terms.

Really the closest I could find in the entire document, to what you just said, was this phrase:
This agreement (together with the printed paper license terms or other terms accompanying any software supplements, updates, and services that are provided by the manufacturer or installer, or Microsoft, and that you use), and the terms contained in web links listed in this agreement, are the entire agreement for the software and any such supplements, updates, and services (unless the manufacturer or installer, or Microsoft, provides other terms with such supplements, updates, or services).
But this in and of itself doesn't constitute a viable way in which Microsoft, having already received payment, could then demand additional and ongoing payments from consumers - especially as the existing terms do not discuss payment in any way shape or form, so there would be a reasonable (and likely legally defensible) expectation from consumers and businesses that future versions of the agreement should not expand the scope of the agreement to include an expectation for further payment.

Granted, I Am Not A Lawyer - But I very much doubt that issues of exploitative license-changes have not come up many times in most countries and jurisdictions at this point - I would be very surprised if, given the lack of existing discussion of payment in these terms, there is not AMPLE precedent to stop MS from ever enacting what you suggest. In fact, that is likely why "Office 365" is a different product, with a different name and license, to "regular" Microsoft Office.

Granted, that doesn't stop them from simply discontinuing a product and replacing it, nor does it stop them from forcing new customers to agree to a new agreement that is a subscription model - but I see no way they could legally force existing customers to begin paying them money for a product where they already purchased a license.
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#24
EarthDog
Raevenlord said:
a bit of a stretch on the basis of the job posting alone,
A bit? Please stop wccftech-ing the place up. :(
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#25
yogurt_21
Of course, enterprises usually prefer to own things instead of having them in a rent model,
...uh no they don't. Users prefer to own. But Enterprises have been moving away from ownership of nearly everything since the 90's.

Buildings: They used to build them, now they rent.

Office car fleets: Used to purchase, now they lease.

Employees: Used to be all full time, Now some Full time + lots of Contractors.

Servers: First it was Purchase, then it was Lease, then it was Virtualize, now they host on AWS, Google, or Azure.

Microsoft Licensing: Used to be perpetual, now its 3 years + annual True-Up. IE even on the enterprise office version they were paying based on the license model, not the perpetual.

Essentially Enterprises want to be able to calculate expenses against profits. When they have to purchase outright it created irregular cash flow. When they can simply pay a monthly fee, cash flow is pretty stable.



Users (for the most part) prefer one and done as far as payment as it is less draining on monthly finances and they can always schedule big purchases around holidays, birthdays, bonus time at work, etc.
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