back to article Never mind WinRT: Tiny Win8 slabs will ship with free Office, too

Mere days after we got word that the Japanese versions of Microsoft's Surface Pro fondleslabs would come preloaded with Office, Redmond has announced that forthcoming small Windows 8 tablets will come bundled with the productivity suite, too, and in all markets. Speaking at the Computex conference in Taipei on Wednesday, …


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  1. Charles Manning


    Free software costs them nothing, but it does remove the potential to sell Office to the punters down the track.

    Next they will be giving huge incentives and spending up on advertising like they did for WinPhones. As someone pointed out then, it would have been cheaper to give away a free iphone with every Winphone.

    Perhaps this time it would be cheaper for MS to give away a free ipad with every Surface sold.

    Is this really a profitable business model for MS or is it just an issue of ego?

    1. LarsG

      Re: Profit?

      Plan B, keep throwing out devices until something finally sticks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Profit?

      They follow the same pattern: spend until the competitors run out of money or business, corner the market, become the dominant player, make money selling stuff that depends on the tech.

      Microsoft is repositioning itself as a services company. It's not just Windows that's no longer needed. Most people seem to forget, that for Office there's not a lot of vertical space left for it to grow into (if you follow my drift). Apart from the ribbon, what exactly is the difference between Office 2003 and Office 2013? Not much, and for most people, a $10 iPad app will do just as well to write a letter. Yes, you would hardly do your research paper on an iPad, but think about what might become available two years down the line.

      It's funny though. Microsoft is (still) a software company. Yet they are giving their core moneymaker away, in order to spur sales of hardware. I don't know what Steve Ballmer is smoking these days, but maybe he took the advice Jobs gave Gates about being a better person if only he'd have taken some LSD a bit too literal...

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Profit?

        "It's funny though. Microsoft is (still) a software company. Yet they are giving their core moneymaker away, in order to spur sales of hardware. I don't know what Steve Ballmer is smoking these days..."

        No, he's been taking advice from the people who sell stuff to people who smoke stuff: get 'em hooked and then raise the prices.

        Paris, because she's good at hooking people. (However, for legal reasons, I cannot comment about her prices.)

  2. Anonymous Coward

    It would appear if Microsoft is becoming desperate.

    My theory would be that they have invested quite a lot in the whole structure and are hoping to get some of that money back. I think this strategy isn't all that bad. After all: it's often better to make a small amount of profit on a lot of devices ("sales"), than it is to make more profit on something which sells less frequent.

    Even so, I can't help wonder if the damage hasn't already been done. Let's face it; even if Windows 8 is quite usable on a tablet or a touch environment, the brand name has already been (heavily) tainted. And Microsoft has also already given in and admitted that it wasn't going as well as they proclaimed.

    Then looking at the current rough financial climate: say a computer illiterate wants a tablet. What to get?

    A (relative) cheap environment of which Microsoft themselves have already said that it had failed (do you really think those guys would remember that Microsoft was only talking about the desktop? I don't.), OR a slightly more (or less!) expensive device (Samsung?) running on Android which has already been chosen as one of the most popular environments?

    You can only spend your money once, especially during these times, so you want to make it count..

  3. sysconfig

    They indeed look desperate giving away licenses. On the other hand, who would seriously want (and buy) Office for an 8 inch device? There are free office document READERS for Android et al out there. That's about all you need in terms of office on a tiny fondleslab, unless you've got a very high pain threshold.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If they were to sell a $200 tablet with a Metro-fied OneNote that can sync with my SharePoint server, that alone would be worth the price of admission, and I think for a lot of other companies as well.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing

    If they'd chucked a ton more resource at Win Phone 8 before launch last year to backfill the gaping holes that are (still) in that ... independent volume control please ... they would have had an excellent mobile os launch late last year just as iphone was showing cracks in it's armour.

    They could have then launched 8.0 now with touch office and the 8.1 fixes as part of the core OS and avoided a whole ton of pain.

    How much are they paying Balmer you say?

    1. Charles Manning

      They have all the hindsight they need... thy just need to **look**

      MS have been shagging around with phones for ten or more years (Apple for only 5). They've had a whole string of mistakes to learn from.

      But to learn you must be humble. That has never been an MS trait. When the market has not wanted an MS product, they blame the market for being wrong.

      MS have also been dabbling with at least 4 generations of tablets since the 1990s. Every one a complete cock up. Not much learning their either.

  5. Belardi


    Giving away Office to sell $380~400+ mini-tablets? And they are supposed to go against the $330 iPadMini?

    I think Microsoft is throwing darts... but they all seem to be landing on the floor.

    Over-priced, over-powered for what is needed with extra bells and whistles trying to get more than a handful of people to buy their junk. The licencing is confusing too... always has been and it gets worse with each new release.

    I had to re-build a PC for someone... they had a sticker on the side... but it didn't match the legit key used on the disc he gave me (He has about 6 computers) (Win7Pro)... so I had to pull the key off the computer (Win7Home) and I used my own disc - with his key. He can't keep up with his own stuff.

    With Linux... there are no keys... no Pro or home versions.... no issues of having the 32bit vs 64bit versions. Just get what you want or need and install it. So much less hassle.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Still not interested. Seems Microsoft's can't see the problems and figure that throwing free stuff (as opposed to the free Office stuff you can already get from LibreOffice and the like) will fix the problems...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they can't win

    give it away = desperate

    charging loads - profiteering

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: they can't win

      Free - does not increase the cost of the device.

      Bundled - to buy something you want, you have to pay for something you do not want at the same time.

      Back when Microsoft was a monopoly, they bundled Internet Explorer and Media Centre with every new computer. Eventually they got a slapped wrist in court. No customers got their money back directly, but the chunky fines reduced the taxes slightly for all EU tax payers.

      Now that Microsoft is not a monopoly, bundling is not illegal. Increasing the price of Windows tablets by bundling Microsoft Office just drives customers to cheaper Android and iOS devices. This is not desperate or profiteering. It is insane. Microsoft has an unpleasant decision to make - accept that Office will become an expensive niche product for the thoroughly locked in, or release Office for Android.

      My bet is that we will see 'Office suite market share' charts in the tech press this year. Next year, those charts will look bad for Microsoft. Office for Android will be the true sign of desperation. I expect it in 2017, but I was wrong about Microsoft Linux. I did not expect it yet, but Microsoft already sell Linux (on Azure).

      1. Quxy

        Re: they can't win

        They could have.

        I believe that if Microsoft had accepted the DOJ's 2000 breakup "remedy" instead of coming to the rather dubious "settlement" that they did, they'd be in better shape for profitability for the next decade than they are now, caught in the headlights of the rapid changes in the personal computing environment. Instead, by enshrining in MS culture the inviolable linkage between WIndows and Office, I rather suspect that they've written their own obituary.

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. dogged

      Re: FREE Office - FAIL OFFICE

      Which is also, by your logic, worthless.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      I don't really have anything to add,

      but I'm going to ADD IT IN CAPITALS.

      Never change, Eadon. The forums would be all the poorer for it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

    Of course, its main problem is that it was originally a mindless clone of a second-rate word processor. Like MS Office, every change in the past decade has simply been applying lipstick to a pig. There's a good reason that professional writers steer clear of both products.

    1. Drakkenson

      Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

      I"m really curious, honest: What do real writers use? I'd like to be a real writer, too _grin_

      1. Measurer

        Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

        Well, I suppose Notepad is good enough if what you're worried about is CONTENT and not COSMETICS!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

        Firstly, real writers use a Mac.

        Secondly, there are a few use case-specific apps out there, such as Ulysses, that offer key features for developing characters and scenes. Other apps can assist you when you want to write a screenplay.

        For me, the most useful feature is the fullscreen-with-no-distractions mode.

        1. hungee

          Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

          "Firstly, real writers use a Mac"

          You are not a real writer just because you sit in Starbucks when you do it.

      3. Great Bu

        What do real writers use?

        A typewriter.

      4. Richard Gadsden

        Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

        Real writers use Scrivener for book-length linear texts (novels, narrative history, etc).

    2. Curious

      Re: Actually, LibreOffice sucks too.

      Libreoffice's a lot thinner of a pig than last year. Libreoffice 4.0.3 is the first version that I've found starts up in reasonable time and doesn't stall on a decent computer.

      Not for professional writers, but Word / Access / Publisher have had their ups and downs meeting this description due to this and that missing feature.

      What I find disappointing is that MS ship a large percentage of Office sales as OEM but don't price their applications at prices that encourage regular upgrades.

      E.g. A Microsoft Steam/Store equivalent that allowed businesses to buy/upgrade just Outlook, or just add Access for €50 or so per application. For small businesses it even becomes a cost barrier to Office 365 / Exchange Online.

      Retail business sales of Office of course are a joke. Go into PC World and there will be one copy of Office Pro on the shelf for €700 in the hope that some panicked executive makes a crisis purchase.

      Access 95 and Publisher 97 used to be installed across the entire business network, now they are priced and licensed in a way that only volume license customers will purchase, so most people do not encounter them. I doubt that this benefits it's shareholders or sales figures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Speaking as a professional technical writer...

        Framemaker is still the dominant DTP tool in the industry. Despite its popularity in the business office, Microsoft Word is neither stable enough for large (> 30 pages) documents nor does it adequately support structured documents. LibreOffice (by design) is certainly more stable with large documents, and it's made some progress toward structured workflows, but it shares one of Word's main design deficiencies: the emphasis on form over content, where the user is encouraged (nay, required) to fiddle, paragraph-by-paragraph, with every aspect of formatting minutiae, from fonts to image layout to line spacing. The end result of this model of document creation is that it is extremely difficult to create organised, consistently-formatted, professional-looking documents.

  10. Shagbag

    Preinstalled at no extra cost


    That must mean you get it before it's installed, i.e. you install it yourself OR it's installed before it's installed.

    Either way, the word makes no sense. Just like "Preorder".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Preinstalled at no extra cost

      English has a history of relentless mutation in response to cultural and geopolitical changes.

      Take for example your sentence

      "That must mean you get it before..."

      Decomposing your sentence, we have:

      That: Middle English, from Old English thæt, neuter demonstrative pron. & definite article; akin to Old High German daz, neuter demonstrative pron. & definite article, Greek to, Latin istud, neuter demonstrative pronoun.

      must: Middle English moste, from Old English mōste, past indicative & subjunctive of mōtan to be allowed to, have to; akin to Old High German muozan to be allowed to, have to

      mean: Middle English menen, from Old English mǣnan; akin to Old High German meinen to have in mind, Old Church Slavic měniti to mention

      you: Middle English, from Old English ēow, dative & accusative of gē you; akin to Old High German iu, dative of ir you, Sanskrit yūyam you

      get: Middle English, from Old Norse geta to get, beget; akin to Old English bigietan to beget, Latin prehendere to seize, grasp, Greek chandanein to hold, contain

      it: Middle English, from Old English hit

      before: Middle English, adverb & preposition, from Old English beforan, from be- + foran before, from fore

      As you can see, English is a moving target. By Old English standards, your sentence is nonsensical, and should have been written more like:

      "Thæt mōste mǣnan ēow geta hit beforan..."

      Perhaps you should simply relax and watch evolution in progress.

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Just what the market doesn't need

    More confusion about what Microsoft is selling. I'm not even sure if the distinction between "business" and "home" use would hold up much before a court. Maybe Microsoft isn't either as it can't seriously be planning to check up, but it is bound to piss people off seeing something for free on the cheaper version that has to be paid for on the premium.

    Clearly, one thing Microsoft is doing is simply to clear inventory of Surface. Bundling Office and a keyboard cover should certainly help there, though they might still have to do a BlackBerry and half the price to get people interested. And then there is the high chance that they'll do a Windows Phone with RT and not provide updates to the next version whether it's 8.1 or whatever.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Just what the market doesn't need

      I too find it disturbing that depending on the licence you buy for Word and Office, what you're allowed to write is restricted.

      Granted, it's the same with Windows industry-standard video content encoding, personal and not commercial use - and I think that isn't Microsoft's fault.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a great way to decimate sales...

    ...sow confusion in the market about what future devices may (or may not) ship with as a free extra, so people who might have bought one put off the decision.

  13. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    [A] Microsoft rep told El Reg, "Commercial use rights are included with Office 2013 Professional Plus, Office 2013 Standard, Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 Midsize Business, and Office 365 Enterprise E3/E4."

    Adding, "And also in Office 2013 Semi- or Occasionally Professional, Office 2013 Catholic Confessional, Office 356 Bigger-than-a-medium-sized-business-but-not-as-big-as-a-big-sized-business Business, Office 356 Smaller-than-a-medium-sized-business-but-not-as-small-as-a-small-sized-business Business, Office 365 Downtime Backup Edition, Office 365 Away-from-fffice Supplemental Premium Plus Pack, Office 365 EU Residents Premium Edition, and Office Enterprise E8×E8 Strings And No Branes Edition"

    The Rep then drew breath to start another list, but we ran away at that point.

  14. xyz

    At least someone at MS has gone "**** ME, we're shafted"....

    Do something, ANYTHING!!!

  15. Infernoz Bronze badge

    "To get commercial use rights for the bundled Office suites.." LOL

    Microsoft are too desperate to get and keep users on the Office hook; I'm betting LibreOffice will eventually eat them alive on tablets!

    Microsoft ought to give up with this Commercial Office use racket for tablets; it's not going to work and will strongly annoy BYOD users, because I bet it is already fuzzy what is and isn't commercial use!

    I just ignore this distinction for software, because it is stupidly broken and unenforceable.

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