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Microsoft’s Strategy: Screw The Customer

This article was written by in Consumer. 8 comments.

I saw this quickie in Reuters today:

Microsoft Corp. said Friday it will complete work on the new version of its Microsoft Office software package this October, and make it available to business customers at that time. But the company said the 2007 Microsoft Office system will not be available to retail and computer-builder customers until next year, to coincide with the launch of the new Windows Vista operating system.

Basically, home users, including students, will not be able to purchase the latest version of Microsoft Office without buying Windows Vista, sure to be a bloated and resource-heavy upgrade to Windows XP. The new version of Office is said to use more portable file formats (XML) and a new user interface. I haven’t seen the beta, so I don’t have ny more details on what regular customers who don’t want to upgrade to Vista will be missing.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published March 24, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jim

Why even upgrade?

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avatar City Girl

A while back, I read a review on the beta version of MS Office. In it, they mention that new version has two really big things — the XML format and a new toolbar called “ribbon.” The XML format is supposed to be “open source,” meaning that anyone can freely use that format. The ribbon replaces the old toolbar(s) and the icons inside the ribbon changes depending on what the user is working on.

The new interface has a lot of eye candy but I bet you that it will be as bloated and graphics-intensive as Vista. Therefore, all of our computers and the new budget ones will have a very difficult time handling the new software. In that sense, I think Microsoft actually did consumers a favor in delaying the launch; consumers will be sticking to the older, less power-hogging software (with all the bugs worked out) and wait until the prices for both the software and the powerful PCs that are need to run the stuff come drastically down in price.

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avatar veridicus

The XML format is not open source. The license allows “free use” but the XML Schema is encumbered by patents. You’re free to read the XML document but not free to validate it. Therefore no other application can use Microsoft Office’s XML format without a specific license granted from Microsoft. The format has also not yet been accepted by any standards organization.

They could have used the free and standard OpenDoc format which existed before they even began developing Office XML. But that’s not Microsoft’s style. If they were truely interested in offering an open portable format they would have chosen one already in use. Just the fact they created their own (which mimics the other) shows it’s all just postering. They’re not all interested in interoperability or the long term safety of your documents.

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avatar Anon

The vast majority of non-business Office users are still using Office 97, so I fail to see how this is screwing anyone.

“sure to be a bloated and resource-heavy upgrade to Windows XP”

Well, at least you are not prejudging.

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avatar Micah

This post is wrong. You can run Office 2007 on Windows XP. Microsoft might screw its customers, but this is not how it does it.

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avatar Luke Landes

When the article was written, that wasn’t the case.

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avatar Dave

I have been part of the development cycle of Office 2007 and I can assure you, at NO TIME was it ever NOT supposed to work with Windows XP. Microsoft knows full well that Windows XP will remain the dominate OS for years to come and Office remains their #1 seller so they could not even think about leaving XP behind so soon. It is true that Microsoft held the product to launch with Vista solely to help the synergism of their marketing.

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avatar Luke Landes

I can understand that; there must have been an error in the Reuters report. This was a over a year ago now, and at that time, no one came forward declaring the report was incorrect.

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