back to article Microsoft strips Office from charity PC scheme

Software giant Microsoft is to abruptly ditch the use of Office through its popular global community refurbishment scheme. An El Reg reader alerted us to the firm's decision to unexpectedly withdraw the software from the Microsoft Authorised Refurbishment (MAR) program. Under a special licence agreement (pdf) with Microsoft …

COMMENTS

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  1. M

    Openoffice anyone?....

    Can't they opt to install Openoffice instead?...

  2. Nick Palmer

    So, that'll be a few thousand...

    ...downloads of OpenOffice, then?

  3. Michael Sheils

    meh

    It just means that these charities will grab OpenOffice or some other alternative and learn to do things the non-Microsoft way.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That just makes it more Open

    I'm sure that's no problem. They can easily fill the gap with Open Office.

    And I'm sure once Microsoft twigs that's what will happen, they will have a sudden rethink.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US, too

    They just withdrew it in the US as well.

    Whatever. I guess I just need to shut off access to the Windows/Office images and only allow Windows/OpenOffice and Ubuntu/OpenOffice.

    Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, since most refurbishers offer the MAR program as an OPTION (since it still costs the customer money, unless the refurbisher is loaded or extremely low volume) so the 'default' state is some form of Linux. Also, we've NEVER been able to give Office to educational groups because they have another low-cost program running specifically for education. Works was a piece of crap and most of us didn't bother with it, and indeed celebrated when it was removed from the program.

    Chances are good that they discovered huge quantities of Office XP MAR COAs on the open market or available for piracy (and not because of any fault of a refurbisher, either, since once the machines leave our hands what the customer does with it is very wide open - especially technology access programs, where they then turn around and hand the things out to the general public) and this is their way of knee-jerk punishing the refurbishers because they couldn't turn anything up in the audit process (because the refurbisher did everything by the books, which really isn't hard).

    Either that, or some numbnuts changed the COAs to look like a MAR COA, but didn't change the keyset, and as such they had no way of differentiating a customer entitled to support to a customer not entitled to support (MAR customers are not entitled to support).

    At any rate, the US program administrators (Microsoft doesn't administer the program, they just provide the licenses and the rulebook) are not thrilled with this and are actively working to find an alternative for us.

  6. Arnold Lieberman

    Just as well there are other alternatives

    Just because m$ doesn't want Office/(Doesn't)Works to distributed in this fashion doesn't prevent enterprising do-gooders form installing Openoffice etc. instead, surely?

  7. Morely Dotes

    Easy, free, legal solution

    at http://www.softwarefor.org one can download the ISO file of a disk called "Software for Starving Students," which contains all of the legally-free applications a Windows or OSX user might need, including office software, archivers, graphics packages, file utilties, and much more.

    Of course, installing Kubuntu would be better, but I recognize that most "students" will do anything rather than actually learn something useful.

  8. g lane

    Microsoft in need of a few pennies?

    Is Microsoft so hard up that they can't afford to keep old hardware running which would otherwise be junked and cause problems with safe disposal?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enter OpenOrifice

    Sounds as if these fellas should slip the refurbs the OO disk.

  10. Simon King

    *cough*OpenOffice*cough*

    I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking it...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another reason to download OpenOffice

    Who'd want MS Orifice anyhow?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Office is irrelevant

    Microsoft pulling MS office is irrelevant.

    Just load OpenOffice, and have even more choices in how you do your documents.

  13. Nick Granger-Brown

    And the problem is?

    Will MS Office be missed that much? Open Office is always available.

  14. Stuart

    Time for Linux and OpenOffice

    Perhaps it's time for all those refurbisher's to consider either of the following options:-

    1. Install OpenOffice instead of a proprietary offering - it's free!

    2. Install a Linux distribution that includes OpenOffice. Maybe this will be cheaper than the "all MS" alternative. SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from Novell, RedHat Linux desktop offering, Ubuntu etc..

  15. Fred

    Take careful aim at foot...

    How long will it take for the offer to be reinstated, when the machines start to ship with OpenOffice installed instead?

  16. Chad H.

    Well, increasing office sales has been hard for MS

    Every upgrade cycle we get reports on El reg and elsewhere about how underwhelmed the marketplace is about the new office... After all, if you got the average user today to use winword 5.0, I doubt they'd notice the difference... I guess this is just one attempt to drive sales.

    Except it wont of course, the peeps in the office probably wont realise that sharing 1 copy of their old office between all their machines is illegal, or wont care.

  17. Andrew Cawte

    OpenOffice...

    ...sounds like the obvious answer to this one. If what's needed is access to word processing and other tools, who ever said they need to be Microsoft tools?

    I can understand businesses being reluctant to roll out OpenOffice across their organisations, but charities using old PCs sound like ideal candidates to me.

  18. Chris Lightner

    And this matters why?

    The users can still get MS Office if that is what they want. However, Open Office will provide the necessary functionality for the majority of those receiving these systems.

  19. Jason Harvey

    Open door...

    for Open Office

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what

    http://www.openoffice.org/

  21. fixit_f

    Not the end of the world.

    No big deal - they can bundle them with Open Office instead. Be a good bit of publicity for open source.

  22. James Whale

    Open Office?

    Does the Open Office licence permit its use by charities and organisations? If I were running a charity, this would certainly be my first port of call...

  23. Robert Sandstedt

    OpenOffice.Org anyone?

    The OSS should be doing cartwheels over this PR opportunity.

  24. john

    Why the fuss?

    Open Office is available for free.

    Why is the loss of MS Office such a big problem?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Company backs their own competators

    One has to wonder if this article should be re-titled: Market leader in Office space introduces measures to accelerate the adoption of OpenOffice world wide... :)

  26. Stephen Pegrum

    MS opens the door

    Who needs MSOffice? (let alone MSWorks - who the heck uses that nonsense ?!)

    Have these refurbishers heard of OpenOffice?

    Please please anyone worried about this should visit www.openoffice.org immediately and download a free copy!

  27. Frank Bellavance

    Openoffice.org

    Unless they have a very specific need for the word processor to be MS office, why not just install the office suite from openoffice.org?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Office withdrawn from scheme

    Hmmmm..... OpenOffice.org anyone? Itś easily installed on Windows machines, provides all office facilities that anyone could reasonably ask for and doesnt rely upon Microsoft goodwill.

  29. b166er

    Congratulations

    Finally an article which unites everyone, I reckon that's a unanimous vote for OOo, so I'll add mine to the list

  30. Andy Barber

    Nowt wrong with...

    ...Works. It works!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OpenOffice indeed

    Just think how much time, screenspace, keyboard wear and tear, and network bandwidth would have been saved if the original article had bothered to mention OpenOffice.

    What OpenOffice can't/doesn't fix as far as I know, which no one seems to have mentioned in posts currently visible, is Outlook/Exchange (or at least their non-email aspects, e.g. calendaring, contact management, and PDA syncing). Maybe they're not relevant in this market segment, I dunno (anyone?), but a truly informed article might have mentioned it.

  32. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    OpenOfix

    Yup, everyone's thinking of that.

    Though it doesn't have all the stuff MS Office has to offer, I doubt charities require the über-stuff only Office offers. I think the only über-function I've ever used is the "dynamic table" feature in Excel ... and even then, I pre-process much of the data with a DBMS-backend.

    Go Open Office!!

  33. Martin Owens

    OpenOffice

    Much keyboard ware and tear, can the editors see their way to mentioning this on the article?

    Outlook/Exchange - Thunderbird/Evolution, OpenExchange, the list is endless of replacements.

  34. George Siegel

    I enjoy M$ Bashing...

    I enjoy bashing Microsoft as much as the next guy, and they usually deserve it, but didn't ANYONE notice the sentence that read "...charities pay an admin charge... and save over 95%...)?

    My consulting practice handles the networks for several charities here in the U.S. For years now, we're regularly purchased MS software at 95% off, at places like techsoup.com and most major suppliers. Although primarily for so-called 501c3 non-profits, there are other special programs that focus on libraries, medical practices, etc.

    I'm willing to concede that free (as in beer) is better than 95% off. But realistically, any charity that can't cough up about $8.00 for a $400 product usually isn't a viable business entity to begin with, and probably won't be able to support for the donated computer for very long.

  35. Alan

    RE: I enjoy M$ Bashing...

    ** 'm willing to concede that free (as in beer) is better than 95% off. But realistically, any charity that can't cough up about $8.00 for a $400 product usually isn't a viable business entity to begin with, and probably won't be able to support for the donated computer for very long. **

    First of all, I suggest you either go back to school, or use a calculator. Saving 95% of $400 means they will have to pay $20, not $8 as you suggested.

    Then, of course, you would have to multiply the $20 by the number of computers they are using, so a sizeable charity would be paying out a considerable amount of money.

    The stupid thing is, out of the $20, M$ will have their costs to be deducted, such as wages, paperwork, et al. That will leave virtually nothing out of the $20, so why not allow them to carry on having Office free of charge?

  36. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Lack of open office email

    Who cares about Open Office not having an email app? read te article, many of these PCs are used where broadband is not available. Internet tools are not a priority.

  37. Peter W

    /pedant hat on

    "I'm willing to concede that free (as in beer) is better than 95% off. But realistically, any charity that can't cough up about $8.00 for a $400 product usually isn't a viable business entity to begin with"

    surely $8 is 2% and 20$ is 5%?

    /removes pedant hat

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm

    George Siegel :

    So because Microsoft lets you have the stuff cheap, you continue to support their hegemony ?

    I hear drug dealers get their stuff cheap too ....

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't knock poor old George Siegel...

    > I'm willing to concede that free (as in beer) is better than 95% off. But realistically, any charity that can't cough up about $8.00 for a $400 product...

    ... he probably used a Windows-based machine to do the calculation... you know, the same flawless, secure, resilient architecture that all those US states are using as the basis for cash dispensers and for vote-counting machines.... :-)

  40. Maligned Truth

    Mepis Linux Refurbs.

    At all charities and government assistance programs that I attend and aid, I provide, and we install, Mepis Linux.

    We don't know who paid the $2.5 million purportedly won from the Salvation Army by the Business Software Alliance (owned, operated, phones answered by: Convicted Felon Microsoft!), back a few years ago.

    BUT, we do NOT intend to put anyone at risk, and officially counsel all US government employees, customers, and volunteers, to ONLY use Open Source software, GNU/Linux, *BSD.

    Sorry, Steve Jobs! Our Macs, when we get them, all run Yellow Dog, Ubuntu, etc. built for the hardware. You can't be trusted, either!

    http://livecdlist.com is the resource for 315 Live CDs.

  41. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Yay Ballmer !

    You're on a streak, there ! First you decide no SP1 release for Vista, and now no Office/Works for refurbs.

    Hey guys, it's now official : Ballmer is rooting for Open Software ! Steve is a Linux Trojan right at the head of Microsoft ! He is actually supporting Linux in every marketing decision he makes at this time.

    Go Steve ! Go the final lap and rename Microsoft to MicroNix, or Licronux, or something-ix.

    That way everyone will know.

  42. Dale

    Tax advantage

    There might be a tax advantage for MS if they donate software directly to charities instead of doing it through third party refurbishers. The charity still gets the software very cheaply, and there's nothing wrong with MS getting a tax advantage for doing so, if that is the case.

  43. Mike Silver badge

    Why Office?

    Because in reality many charities have to deal with government entities, and government entities _LOVE_ to use MSFT-only "extensions". As one who uses Evolution and OpenOffice on Linux, in a corporation with a similar "MSFT or be damned" attitude toward support, I can assure you that death by 1000 cuts only begins to describe it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Why Office?

    >> Because in reality many charities have to deal with government entities, and government entities _LOVE_ to use MSFT-only "extensions". As one who uses Evolution and OpenOffice on Linux, in a corporation with a similar "MSFT or be damned" attitude toward support, I can assure you that death by 1000 cuts only begins to describe it.

    A valid point in my opinion, I would also argue that there are lot of old machines out that that would struggle under the weight of OOo that could just about manage MSO. I believe it will still be possible to buy a charity licensed version of MSO for £50.

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