back to article Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions

Microsoft is continuing its campaign to drive Office users onto a subscription plan by killing off its discounted Home Use program. The program covers individuals whose employer already has an Office subscription and allowed them to download standalone software on a separate home machine for a greatly reduced price of just $15 …

  1. ma1010 Silver badge

    What a shock!

    MS going for lock-in and grabbing money? Who would have thought it? It's just more of the rent-seeking behavior we've learned to expect of our fine corporations these days. They don't have enough billions, mostly tax-free, you see.

    Hopefully, many (I know better than to even hope "most") of the folks MS is trying to shaft will say "No, thanks" and switch to LibreOffice. And with the new version of LO, they can even have the ribbon (not that I can see why they would want it, but I know some do).

    1. georgezilla Bronze badge

      Re: What a shock!

      " ... Who would have thought it? ... "

      Ummmmm ..........

      APPLE?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a shock!

        Apple's own office productivity suite is free to download and use. No subscription or one-off purchase required. So, in this instance, Apple aren't the ones money grabbing, although there's little doubt Apple users will have paid indirectly when purchasing a Mac, iPhone or iPad.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What a shock!

          Yeah, but no one with a real job uses it because it's Office compatability is crap.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC - Re: What a shock!

            Then pay for Microsoft Office and let's all be happy!

            It's this attitude like yours that allowed Microsoft to arrive in this position of power. I would suggest you to bend forward in order to be more comfortable and get some "user experience".

            Oh, by the way, according to The Document Foundation, in 2018 an estimated 200 million active users who didn't seem to have a real job were paying a one time 0$ in order to use a non-Microsoft office package.

          2. IGnatius T Foobar !

            Re: What a shock!

            Compatibility between Windows Office and Web Office is crap too, but that doesn't stop people from using both. Honestly, that argument doesn't sting as much as it used to.

          3. TVU

            Re: What a shock!

            "Yeah, but no one with a real job uses it because it's Office compatability is crap"

            The good news is that there are now a number of free and one-off payment cross platform office suites that do pretty good Microsoft compatibility. They include, but are not limited to, WPS Office, FreeOffice, OnlyOffice and SoftmakerOffice.

          4. ab-gam

            Re: What a shock!

            Has the MS Office suite for MAC finally acheived parity with the Windows version? The last time I had to support it, it acted a lot like a semi-cute little girl putting on Mommy's dress and high heels.

            1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

              Re: What a shock!

              Has the MS Office suite for MAC finally acheived parity with the Windows version?

              I have Office 2016 on my work PC, and a $15 Mac copy from the now-defunct home use program on my personal MBP.

              It's pretty obvious that the Mac product is a port from a completely different OS. The Mac menu structure is bolted on top of the ribbon, which is odd-looking but in some ways better than the Windows version. It doesn't handle high-DPI (Retina) very well, and Office for Mac apps take far longer to launch than any other apps else on the computer (Apple or 3rd party). Also, the ungainly Microsoft Updater tends to pop up and announce that important updates are available -- only to launch it and be informed that no updates are available.

              Once the Office apps (eventually) launch, they plod along with most of the features of their Windows counterpart, in generally the same places. In an amazing feat of programming, though, MS somehow managed to make Outlook for Mac even worse than the Windows version.

              In summary, Office for Mac is well worth the $15 I paid for it. $70/year, not so much.

          5. InNY

            Re: What a shock!

            What's a real job?

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: What a shock!

              What's a real job?

              Just about any job that doesn't involve Office, starting with flipping burgers all the way up to brain surgery.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: What a shock!

                "Just about any job that doesn't involve Office PowerPoint, starting with flipping burgers all the way up to brain surgery."

                FTFY

                1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: What a shock!

                  You just declared everybody in the armed forces above the rank of PFC or equivalent to have no real job.

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: What a shock!

              What's a real job?

              Dunno - never had one :-)

  2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Use LibreOffice instead

    LibreOffice is in many respects equal to or better than MS Office and for the typical home user with only basic documents and simple spreadsheets is more than good enough. (LO is also better than MS Office for reading a number of MS Office documents as MSO often seems to have difficulty reading documents from different versions.)

    Given that the price of LibreOffice is far lower than MS Office, for most users LibreOffice is by far the better choice.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Confirmed

      LibreOffice is the go-to package for the light of budget.

      1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Re: Confirmed

        LibreOffice is the go to of people who don't like nasty surprises or frequent crashes, too...

    2. DougS Silver badge

      I've been recommending it to people for years

      They always find it is more than adequate for their home needs. I suspect the reason it hasn't taken over the business world is PowerPoint is so much better than the LibreOffice equivalent and managers love their PowerPoint.

      Probably also a few underground Excel jocks with complicated spreadsheets that have grown over the years and the business is now dependent on, but they could buy those guys real Office.

      1. N2 Silver badge

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        Likewise, but it usually gets those inane " so is it as good as MS Office?" type questions.

        1. P. Lee

          Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

          >is it as good as MS Office?

          It depends on your metric.

          I expect MS to backtrack on the price. I don't see Home users paying that. Office is not really required for the home. As almost everything is online, most people don't even use a word processor. Outside of work, email and a spreadsheet are the key applications.

          Most users will probably just use google docs because it works in a browser.

          1. Vehlin

            Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

            The 1TB of Onedrive storage is the main reason I went for it.

            1. 0laf Silver badge

              Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

              Yeah, I was using Libra Office but needed more storage. I already had used up the 15Gb that I'd wangeled through my WinPho and other strange upgrades they gave randomly over a couple of years.

              The Office tax seemed reasonable for the storage space.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

                The Office tax seemed reasonable for the storage space

                There are lots of online-storage providers who will quite happily take your money so it seems a slightly strange reason to pay Microsoft lots of extra money..

                Or you could do what I do - run my own instance of NextCloud and self-host your own online storage.

          2. MacroRodent Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

            > As almost everything is online, most people don't even use a word processor. Outside of work, email and a spreadsheet are the key applications.

            Unfortunately, many emails contain attachments for which you need a MS Office compatible viewer. (I used to rant to the senders about this, but gave up, it was too much an uphill battle). Some webmails handle them (particularly Microsoft's own), but if you are not using such a thing, LibreOffice is useful for viewing such attachments.

            1. NetBlackOps

              Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

              I feed those to PDFArchitect, a freebie, for those that just won't listen. Office 2003 lives on a desktop and laptop but never sees the Internet, thus no email. THAT license is grandfathered from waaay back.

              Last recent version anyway.

      2. Missing Semicolon

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        Two things are borked on LibreOffice.

        Mailmerge. It really is half-done - a bodge-up involving the LO "Base" component, badly.

        Charting. Creating simple stuff like a time-series graph seems to require the entrails of several chickens.

        1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

          I find charting on LibreOffice easy to use compared to MS Office. It's just laid out quite differently is all.

        2. Sam Therapy

          Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

          You mean you haven't downloaded the Chicken Entrails plugin? Oh dear. ;)

          1. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

            Oh darn. I think I have the goats head on a stake plugin. Thats what the problem is.

      3. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        "....They always find it is more than adequate for their home needs. I suspect the reason it hasn't taken over the business world is PowerPoint is so much better than the LibreOffice equivalent and managers love their PowerPoint..."

        Not just managers - I am seeing more and more TA's using it to do diagrams / drawings that you'd traditionallly expect to see done in Visio. And, to be fair, for most simple drawings it is sufficient.

        "...Probably also a few underground Excel jocks with complicated spreadsheets that have grown over the years and the business is now dependent on, but they could buy those guys real Office..."

        This is still as much of a pain as it's always been - possibly more so.

        Too many departments (Finance, HR etc) that have applications with plugins to Excel, or that have spreadsheets with complicated macros that someone in their department built a decade ago and they run the department/business on. Or those GB+ spreadsheets that contain everything from the birth of the universe to today in them.

        And there seems to be no way to convince them that once they're doing this, Excel is the wrong application for so many reasons.

      4. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        I suspect the reason it hasn't taken over the business world is PowerPoint is so much better than the LibreOffice equivalent and managers love their PowerPoint.

        No. Libreoffice has a featureset well above what the majority of users know how to use. You'd probably get the occasional excel guru demanding excel back, but that's going to be a minority of users.

        The real reasons are basically twofold.

        1) Practically every CMS and bit of serious business software on the face of the planet generates letters etc directly through an MS Office API which Libre Office hasn't got. This is much less of an issue than it once was due to many bits of software using alternatives, but it's still an issue.

        2) Users require MS Outlook, which requires a full copy of office, and if you already have a full copy of MS Office then why bother implementing LibreOffice? Here's a 5 year old post by me explaining why users demand Outlook; the situation hasn't changed appreciably.

        I see what Microsoft is doing here with pushing home users into subscriptions, but if it forces users off of outlook then frankly I think it's cut their own throat. The reason for home users running this stuff is that they then demand it at work, which is where the big money is.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

          People still want what they know and if they are used to Office in the office then they want office.

          Employers know that most people are used to Office and Windows.

          People using computers at home like to be gaining skills that are transferable to work.

          I do a lot in Scrivener now. I'm now finding that publishers are not requiring ancient MS Word formats any more but they still need docs that they can mess with if necessary.

        2. ma1010 Silver badge

          Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

          You say I see what Microsoft is doing here with pushing home users into subscriptions, but if it forces users off of outlook then frankly I think it's cut their own throat.

          I agree. I think MS has been cutting their own throat for a while what with forced, borked updates, constantly-escalating pricing, and the failure to develop and sell a good replacement for Windows 7. They don't understand that they don't need to change the user interface to convince everyone to buy a new OS when the old one goes out of support. They don't understand that what people want is something that works reliably and doesn't have lots of confusing changes in the UI. IMHO, since the coming of Satya, MS has squandered their credibility as a reliable OS maker, and now they're trying to screw over the home users of Office, not to mention their insane licensing provisions. If I were starting a business today, I wouldn't even consider using anything MS anywhere in it.

      5. BGatez Bronze badge

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        That's because PowerPoint is such a wonderful drug free (and certainly non-addictive) sleep aid

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        "[...] and the business is now dependent on, but they could buy those guys real Office."

        Except a newer version of MS Office may not handle the complexity in the same way. Several times in the past that has bitten people. It then required someone to understand what was happening, change the implementation to circumvent the problem, and then do regression testing.

      7. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        PowerPoint is so much better than the LibreOffice equivalent

        That's debatable, and only really the case in the last few years. For a long time, I'd have said the exact opposite, and LO did the "presenter view" thing for years before PPT caught on.

        What many people ignore is LO Draw. There is absolutely no equivalent application in Office, which is a major omission in my view.

        Then again, Acorn's RiscOS Draw still sets the benchmark as far as I'm concerned :-)

        M.

      8. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: I've been recommending it to people for years

        few underground Excel jocks with complicated spreadsheets that have grown over the years

        Usually called "the Finance department"..

        (I know ours would collapse if (for some reason) Excel was no longer available. And we get to fix things when a change of Office versions means that their hand-crafted Excel spreadsheets no longer work properly..)

    3. Jakester

      Re: Use LibreOffice instead

      Not only is LibreOffice a better choice, that is what I use to fix documents that clients can't open because Microsoft Office fck'd up the document.

    4. JohnG

      Re: Use LibreOffice instead

      Every time LO fixes an incompatibility with the latest version of MS Office files, Microsoft introduces something new in the next version. Despite having subverted the definition of ISO files, Microsoft doesn't stick to it. Any file that has been created or modified in LO will be declared as corrupted by MS Office. It isn't a real problem but is enough to scare non-technical users.

      The only significant compatibility issue I have had between MSO and LO is that of exotic spreadsheet macros.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Use LibreOffice instead

        Every time LO fixes an incompatibility with the latest version of MS Office files

        and the faster that MS can push out new versions the faster that it can make people think that LO is crap because it is ''incompatible with the real thing'' - subscriptions are another way of achieving this.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Use LibreOffice instead

        "Any file that has been created or modified in LO will be declared as corrupted by MS Office"

        I haven't seen this, and I take documents back and forth freely between home and work. Thinking about it, the majority of the documents involved are created with LibreOffice.

        I did run across an Excel spreadsheet that didn't print properly in the version of Excel that created it, but did print properly in LO.

        That's the last time I saw an incompatibility since LO choked on a spreadsheet with >32K rows, before LO upped that.

    5. David Roberts
      Windows

      Re: Use LibreOffice instead

      Easy for you to say.

      Nobody so far has mentioned a couple of minor downsides.

      (1) LibreOffice doesn't play nicely with all Word features. Collaboration doesn't always work well. I have had major issues with automatic numbering, where paragraph (and other) numbers are different in Office and LibreOffice. Document reviews can be "interesting".

      (2) Office includes Publisher and although there are some programs which claim to work(ish) with ".pub" files i haven't managed to achieve this so far.

      As a non-employed person who works (in a volunteer capacity) with employed people who are in large Microsoft shops this causes me major problems.

      I also work with someone (again in a voluntary capacity) who bought a used PC with Office, and who has presumably worked with Office all their life. In a sales background. So fancy use of Excel and Publisher and minimal ability to learn alternatives.

      I am seriously considering buying a copy of Office because life is too short for all the hassle.

      I just need to locate a slightly earlier version tnan 2019, preferably for multiple PCs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @David Roberts - Re: Use LibreOffice instead

        You mean you consider buying a subscription to Office....

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Use LibreOffice instead

        Office includes Publisher

        Not any more (as far as I know - MS has declared Publisher to be abandonware).

        Besides which, Publisher produces really, really bad HTML. You are better off with pretty much any other means of generating websites.

        1. David Roberts

          Re: Use LibreOffice instead

          Late response, but who said anything about web sites?

          Pamphlets laid out in ".pub" files.

    6. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: Use LibreOffice instead

      I discovered FreeOffice 2018 by Softmaker this morning - works really well on my Linux system but they also do a version for Mac and Windows...

      1. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

        Re: Use LibreOffice instead

        I much prefer Softmaker's Office to LibreOffice to be honest. Better compatability with MS and has some nice touches. The font kerning also seems better compared to LO.

        I'd guess that because they have a pro paid product, and it's made in Germany, the incentive and culture of quality makes it a higher quality product than LO, I've certainly experienced the difference.

    7. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Use LibreOffice instead

      > Given that the price of LibreOffice is far lower than MS Office, for most users LibreOffice is by far the better choice.

      Not disagreeing at all, but that one license for Office can count for many installs (not sure about Home version, tho) - told by a rep that a regular license is good for 40 installs (it used to be 5). SWMBO insists on Office, so have to have it, so now we all have it, as do others we know. At the current licensing rate, the pain-point to switch has not been reached (for me, at least).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Use LibreOffice instead

        It's for upto 6 user accounts (was 5) each with 5 devices. So 30 licenses, if you create 6 different accounts. Then you also get 6TB of storage as each account has 1TB.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Use LibreOffice instead

          Mixed messages, then - I was explicitly told 40 installs, nothing about devices per user account. I'm not hitting the limits either way, so not that fussed, but I guess that shows the quality of their 1st line support or they've changed the policy again

    8. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Use LibreOffice instead

      I much prefer LO - it does not get in my way half as much as MS Office does. Would pick it even at the same price.

      I know, I am blessed in that respect insofar as my corporate environment is my wife and I.

  3. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Trollface

    Un-Hollie Contract

    Sometimes... All I need is the air that I breathe,

    ...and to renew my subscription.

    1. Tim Seventh
      Pint

      Re: Un-Hollie Contract

      Sometimes... All I need is the air that I breathe,

      ...and to renew my subscription on beer.

      FTFY

  4. JohnFen Silver badge

    Nope

    Software by subscription is nothing but a huge scam -- and doubly so if that software is Office.

    1. N2 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Nope

      Just a legalised form of ransomware

    2. Mahhn

      Re: Nope

      If the price for the license was much smaller, I wouldn't mind ($5 per year max). Since that would be to help keep the product up to date. But MS, they just want to bleed people out as much as they can.

  5. redpawn Silver badge

    It’s only fair

    You get value from it and it takes a lot of money to be of value to such a large corporation. Libre Office is smaller so less money means more to them.

  6. Daedalus Silver badge

    TANSTAAFL!

    In case you haven't noticed, software development and maintenance is never-ending. Paying for that requires either a constant stream of money or the release, every now and then, of a new all-singing all-dancing version of the application, complete with bijou features guaranteed to get the attention of lovers of shiny things for glassy offices. You could argue that the accretion of cruft that we hate so much is precisely what you should expect from the latter model. Maybe the subscription model will result in a welcome move away from bloatware.

    1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: TANSTAAFL!

      In the biological world, an organism will grow to the limits imposed by its environment and the constraints imposed by competition. One major mechanism is having a limited lifespan, which allows a high level of activity then senescence and getting out of the way, and encourages the production of offspring which may increase their domain, or adapt to changed conditions.

      Apart from achieving senescence, Microsoft have avoided acknowledging this concept, but like those species of mites that dont have an anus, their internal load of crap is approaching toxic levels.

      1. georgezilla Bronze badge

        Re: TANSTAAFL!

        " ... Apart from achieving senescence, ... "

        What makes you think that this statement applies to Microsoft and Office?

        Please provide proof that this is in fact true.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: TANSTAAFL!

          senescence: the condition or process of deterioration with age.

          What feature developed since <INSERT FAVOURITE RELEASE OF OFFICE> has made your life easier? The ribbon made it harder for me (YMMV), and other than that and new icons I've not noticed anythinng new in the last ten years. Menus have shifted around, which is just a new layout to get used to, but some things (e.g. getting at certain file properties, finding different application options, and I miss being able to get to SystemInfo from the Help -> About menu.

          So yeah, I think it's deteriorated with age, but admit it's a personal opinion that you might not share.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: TANSTAAFL!

      "In case you haven't noticed, software development and maintenance is never-ending..."

      There arrives a time when a software package does exactly what it needs to do, and any new features are either unnecessary, provide for needs of an ever-decreasing subset of users, or are even backward steps in usability or functionality, just for the sake of being different and new.

      The reality is, MS Office reached this stage somewhere around 2007 / 2010 (some would argue even earlier), and anyone with a locally installed copy could/should continue using that for the next 50-odd years with zero problems. There is no reason why maintenance should be never-ending on a stable piece of code, because over time the number of bugs will decrease until the code is in a 'safe-enough'* state. The only reason that maintenance is never-ending is because development is never-ending, and therefore new bugs keep getting introduced. And the only reason that development is never-ending is because sales and marketing demand 'new' even when the user has no need and gets no value from the change.

      *Even though complex code might never be completely 100% bug-free, it could be as close as makes no difference and/or where the effects of any bugs are unnoticeable / trivial.

      1. Phage

        Re: TANSTAAFL!

        Office 2003 was the high-water mark. It's been downhill since then.

        A pox on that ribbon especially

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TANSTAAFL!

          Amen to that! I'm still using Office 2003 and Visio on Windows XP in a virtual machine I keep exactly for this purpose. All I have to do is to export documents as PDF and Bob's your uncle.

        2. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: TANSTAAFL!

          Really. I'm fairly sure I could still be using the functions of Office 97 quite happily.

          In fact I got through uni using MS Works software I got with my PC in 96. It did even less then Office 97 but still more than enough.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: TANSTAAFL!

        using that for the next 50-odd years with zero problems

        As long as you don't mind being pwned by $Exploit_of_the_week..

        On a totally-standalone machine that you don't ever put an unknown USB stick into - maybe. Otherwise, no.

    3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: TANSTAAFL!

      You have to be kidding..

      Having for years supported, consulted, and developed for a product that took a sizeable margin of its install base value every year for support and maintenance, I have to tell you that enterprise customers will continually ask exactly what they're paying for when the installed software isn't changing, and quite often even when it is.

      We would charmingly point out that they were paying for peace of mind (including critical bug fixes), additional platform support, and increased functionality if a new version was released. This had the advantage of being true (particularly earlier in the product's lifetime when it was being actively developed), not to mention that instant telephone support and emergency on site assistance for a niche product are not cheap.

      Home users will ask exactly the same questions when they're paying tens of pounds rather than thousands; New Shiny Functionality is one possible way to quieten them down as they basically won't care about security and bug fixes, and have no legal duty to keep their systems secure.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: TANSTAAFL!

        Here's the thing: having myself "supported, consulted, and developed for a product that took a sizeable margin of its install base value every year for support and maintenance", I know that there are products that support very dynamic markets, where requirements change over the years, and where it is entirely justified that software vendors charge that maintenance to support ongoing development to keep their software up-to-date and stops it becoming obsolete.

        An Office suite is NOT that type of software. But vendors supplying Office software like making more money rather than less, so when "customers ... continually ask exactly what they're paying for when the installed software isn't changing", instead of software companies saying "You're right, the software isn't changing much, we'll charge you 5% a year maintenance and support instead of 20% a year for ongoing new features", the vendors invent new, unneeded, things to justify continuing to charge 20% or more.

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: TANSTAAFL!

          You and I know that will never happen. Money is needed to develop the next product, so if your product is mature and the market increasingly saturated, you'll add features to 'justify' the on-going maintenance fee, and divert a large amount of the cash to develop a successor/develop a new market.

          Charging less just makes it easier for your competitors to catch up.

    4. JohnG

      Re: TANSTAAFL!

      The support and warranty issues for software are not different for those of other types of product. Manufacturers don't support products beyond a certain lifetime and will encourage customers to buy newer products when customers look for support for what are deemed obsolete products.

      MS and others would like customers to give them a constant revenue stream to fix the problems which should not have been there in the first place. I have yet to meet an Office user who requested or wanted the changes made in Office 2010, over the preceding version.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or...

    go to portal.office.com and sign in with your work credentials, which allow you to install on 5 machines and several mobile devices. No $15 fee required at all. Obviously less of a story when you look at it as people getting for free what used to cost $15, but there it is.

    1. MatthewSt

      Re: Or...

      I was going to say the same thing. Unless you have 5 active devices at work, you can just use your license at home!

    2. a_a

      Re: Or...

      That would get in the way of a good story though.

    3. Marki Mark
      Thumb Down

      Re: Or...

      Unless work have blocked that option of course...

      1. Lusty

        Re: Or...

        Why would anyone be such a dick? There is zero harm to the company if I install Word at home but plenty of benefit. The entitlement is against the user so there is no drawback here and no admin required.

        1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

          Re: Or...

          You obviously haven't worked for many organisations in the UK, where petty is the order of the day and "why should they get access at home for free, they should buy their own and it'll be a security risk and could open us up to legal hot water"

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Or...

            where petty is the order of the day

            Or even for a public body where the overarching rules are "no benefit in kind" and "please don't make us have to do complex tax checks"..

            (Sometimes it's not because we don't want people to - sometimes it's much more complicated)

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Or...

      And your employer would be in hot water during an audit, because that home PC doesn't belong to the company...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or...

        @big_D is there a clause requiring that in the licence? I thought the licence was tied to the user and they could use on any devices?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or...

        https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/DeployOffice/about-office-365-proplus-in-the-enterprise?redirectSourcePath=%252fen-us%252farticle%252f9f11214c-911d-4e3c-9993-a566f12b1a68

        Nope. Fake news big_D. Microsoft specifically say home computer is an option

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Or...

          Although if you leave your employer, presumably you have to uninstall, buy a new license, or get a job with another employer in the same scheme

          1. Lusty

            Re: Or...

            @JetSetJim, if you leave your employer your credentials will be invalid so the install will need to be reauthorised with a new licence. No bother there at all. Obviously any documents in your OneDrive for Business will disapear so you'd want to copy anything personal somewhere else. No need to uninstall, Office would just go into need a licence mode.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Or...

          I wasn't referring to Microsoft. A lot of auditing would flag the use of the business account on a personal device (especially if OneDrive and Sharepoint access were active).

          We would certainly fail some of our audits if it was discovered that company data could be access through non-company devices.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Or...

            Company data is not apps. Obviously in some limited scenarios you'll need to restrict company data from personal devices, and that's what MDM is for. Restricting the legal installation of apps would be weird though, especially if you then have a go at the vendor for charging too much!

    5. Christopher Rogers

      Re: Or...

      If you are are daft enough to let your users into the work portal from any old PC....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or...

        "If you are are daft enough to let your users into the work portal from any old PC...."

        Yeah, fuck freedom and productivity, LOCK EM DOWN! Oh, the 90's called and asked if you could give their awkward pointless IT policies back?

        1. Mahhn

          Re: Or...

          yeah, all those people that have infected home PCs and either don't know it or don't care, they should be able to infect documents that go inside the company, barf.... Then you will be begging for some of those "pointless" policies back when you shut the company down from malware. - happens all the time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Or...

            Data isn't apps. If you don't know why installing an app on a home PC couldn't infect your network, you shouldn't be anywhere near an IT department let alone making policies.

        2. Christopher Rogers

          Re: Or...

          I suppose you are just using ADFS for security and all eh....

  8. g33k3ss
    Thumb Down

    Ransomware

    Isn't this just basically ransomware? Pay us a fee, or you won't be able to open your files...

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Ransomware

      Please enjoy this pint on me while I try to convince the system to let me upvote you about a trillion more times.

      *Jumps up & down on the upvote button like a RiverDancer on speed*

      1. KittenHuffer
        Pint

        Re: Ransomware

        I almost clicked the 'report abuse' link, as you neglected to provide the pint that you promised!

        I have done it for you ------->

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ransomware

      Eh, with office products there's free software that can open the files without much loss of anything.

      CAD data on the other hand ...

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Ransomware

      Come on. I don't like subscription model pricing either, but it's not ransomware. Keep paying to use this program, or stop and use another one. Either way, you still have all your files and they still work in other programs. Your definition would apply if they only used a proprietary format or forced all data storage on their systems, but they're doing neither of those things. When the users stop paying for that, they can take their files to LibreOffice, the old installations of standalone office, Apple's iWork, one of those other online word processors (Apple, Google, and Amazon all have one for some reason), or lots of other programs. Come back with your ransomware accusation if they make a proprietary (as in designed to be incompatible, not just designed by them) format or if they delete the "save on disk" option and limit storage to their cloud. Until then, it doesn't apply.

      1. revdjenk

        Re: Ransomware

        Um ... the MSOffice formats ARE propietary! Were you around for the switch from Office 95 to Office 97?

        Do you realize now the work that must be done by other software companies to bring the MS formats into their programs?

        The Open Document Format (odf) is truly non-propietary.

        I've used LibreOffice and its predecessors since 1999.

        1. Jakester

          Re: Ransomware

          Yes, the ODF format is non-proprietary, except for the Microsoft implementation.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Ransomware

            ODF format is non-proprietary, except for the Microsoft implementation

            Which is, confusingly for the end-user and profitably for Microsoft, mostly incompatible with the current published standard.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Ransomware

          Perhaps you didn't like my point, but I think it was sufficiently clear. They are using and recommending the docx file format. Yes, Microsoft designed it, but that's not quite enough. They have put it under an open license, which means that it is not proprietary. They cannot argue, for example, that using another program on it, writing such a program, etc is forbidden. Just because a company designed something doesn't mean it's proprietary. Red Hat designed and wrote large chunks of modern Linux distributions, but its license allows others to use it freely. If Microsoft introduced a new, non-open format, then it could be described as ransomware. As it is, they've merely changed their pricing mechanisms to a more annoying one. I don't support that, and I've already said as much above, but the original statement of having to pay to use your files is factually incorrect.

      2. N2 Silver badge

        Re: Ransomware

        Clearly you've never used the RW versions of Photoshop or Lightroom? The very work of the devil where this is concerned.

    4. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Ransomware

      Yes, you beat me to it

    5. circusmole
      Happy

      I know this a bit late...

      ... but I actually purchased Microsoft Office 2007 on DVD, err... back in 2007, and have used it ever since. Does all I want it to do and I haven't spent a penny on it for 12 years!

    6. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Ransomware

      Not in the slightest. It's 'pay us a fee, or you won't be able to continue to edit files in the officially approved way'

      It doesn't stop you using third party products (Libreoffice, Ability Office)

      It doesn't prevent your documents being transformed to another format prior to your subscription ending

      It doesn't hinder access to your files after your subscription has ended

      It doesn't stop you viewing files either as there's Word Mobile freely available. This probably also allows printing (and thus export to PDF or similar) but I can't be bothered to check.

      Ransomware stops files being opened or any data from being extracted, full stop. It is not the same thing.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Ransomware

        Neither does it stop you moving the files to another active subscription and using them.

  9. martin__r

    Shameless RIP OFF!!! 32x price hike

    The useful software lifetime of an office suite is 10 years (bare minimum).

    $15 for 10 years = $ 15

    $49 * 10 for 10 years = $ 490

    That is a whooping 32.6x price hike, not just tenfold. And who says that the $49 subscription fee is cast in stone for the next 10 years, and Microsoft isn't going to hike it further ???

    You may want to consider moving to LibreOffice ...

    1. J__M__M

      Re: Shameless RIP OFF!!! 32x price hike

      And who says that the $49 subscription fee is cast in stone for the next 10 years...

      The only question is, will It go up before they start charging us monthly rent to use Windows, or at the same time.

  10. WolfFan Silver badge

    Suicidial

    I get the Office HUP courtesy of a certain Institution of Higher Education. We get it because the school is a proud Microsoft shop. All office-type stuff is with MS Office, the students all get Office for ‘free’ (that is, part of their tuition) and so on. We’re supposed to have Office on our personal computers because, in part, the department spends a lot of time teaching Office. All students must pass a specific class on Office in order to graduate. There is no way, no way at all, that any of the faculty will use _our_ cash to pay a subscription in order to teach Office. Either the school will be paying or no-one will be installing Office on their machines. I suspect that the students will be getting a subscription ‘deal’ as well. That is going to be extremely unpopular. Instead of influencing students to go Microsoft, faculty will be mentioning LibreOffice and students will be listening. Microsoft just killed the next generation of customers. Good going, there, boys.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Suicidial

      Managers - even at Microsoft - are usually measured on short-term objectives. So whenever a corporation hits the skids, they actually do start burning the furniture.

      They know better than anyone that to do so is sealing the company's fate in the long run. But they don't plan to stick around that long. They will have got cushy well-paid jobs elsewhere, and discreetly unloaded their stock.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Suicidial

        I worked at a national bank, that started "burning the furniture". Literally sold everything they could, to rent back from the companies they sold to (you do actually need a roof you see).

        Massive profits advertised "doing better than ever" they said. It was true, for all of 3 months at a guess. The economic crisis crash hit after, and well, they were lower than ever before.

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Suicidial

      All students must pass a specific class on Office in order to graduate.

      How much does MS pay you to be an arm of their marketing department ? This is the sort of thing that keeps MS where it is.

      I could understand a module showing proficiency in a word-processor/office system (eg allowing use of LO) but one specific implementation - this is almost criminal, should be illegal under anti trust laws!

  11. jrd

    Old timer

    Still using Office 2003. Still works fine. Still does just about everything I want from a word processor/spreadsheet.

    Also still using Photoshop CS2. Ditto.

    1. rnturn

      Re: Still using Office 2003

      Still using the Office 2003 format via LibreOffice. It's been several years since I was forced to touch a Microsoft Office program.

    2. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Old timer

      Yes me too on XP in a VM. Does a fine job to be honest.

      1. The Central Scrutinizer

        Re: Old timer

        And here's silly old me using Emacs in org mode to create virtually all of my personal documents on my Linux box.

        Gave up Lightroom when it became ransomware and still use Photoshop CS2 under WINE from time to time, although GIMP gets the job done most of the time.

        About the only time I use Libre Office is to open documents that people send me.

        Haven't touched MS Office in quite a few years.

  12. genmayhem
    Coat

    My kid's schools have all gone to google, assignments done with google docs, email for the school handled through google, and chrome books in the classroom. When I show them libre office they look at me like I'm crazy and open a browser.

    1. revdjenk

      I use both, but LibreOffice currently has more capabilities.

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Still something to learn then...

      "When I show them libre office [sic] they look at me like I'm crazy and open a browser".

      So they haven't yet learned:

      1. "You know you have a distributed system when the crash of a computer you’ve never heard of stops you from getting any work done". - Leslie Lamport

      2. It's not always prudent to entrust your valuable data to the tender mercies of a distant, impersonal corporation motivated only by a love of profit.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Still something to learn then...

        " It's not always prudent to entrust your valuable data to the tender mercies of a distant, impersonal corporation motivated only by a love of profit."

        Except that it CAN be a pain to manage your own redundancy and backups especially for someone not IT-literate. Since so many companies now offer considerable free cloud space, maybe the answer is to have docs backed up on multiple cloud providers, then you're not beholden to any single one

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Still something to learn then...

          Some people still believe that google docs is an online only service.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: School going to Google

      So out of the Frying pan and into the fire then?

      They are just as bad as each other. In different ways but just a bad.

      Proudly MS free for 2years 10months and counting. I did go to MSA (Microsoft Anonymous) and they were a great help. You can beat this addiction. Going from MS to Google is IMHO like swapping H for C.

  13. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Pint

    Still using my $20 M$oft Office 2016 Pro licences from Amazon.

    They do keep 'arping on about signing in & changing Icons etc when I do.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      MS Word

      for workgroups 1998 here IIRC. XD

      [Edit]

      Ah, no, just Libreoffice. I never bothered putting word on after the last PC upgrade and OS reinstall.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    But of course it is

    "Microsoft is keen that everyone recognizes this change for the wonderful opportunity it is"

    Oh don't worry, we immediately recognize that this is an absolutely wonderful opportunity - for Microsoft.

    For the rest of us, it's basically roll call. Who wants to pay for the rest of their lives to be able to use their data ?

    Once again, Microsoft is the best argument for Open Software there is.

    Viva LibreOffice !

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      the wonderful opportunity it is.

      To change to Libre Office, if you haven't done already. Pascal is entirely correct, but I can't help thinking that people have been gradually eased into paying rental for things they would previously have owned over the last couple of decades or so. After all, you hardly notice all those leeches already drinking away at your blood; you'll surely not notice another.

      1. batfink Silver badge

        Re: the wonderful opportunity it is.

        All companies love a subscription.

        It would be an interesting exercise to calculate the average family's monthly subscription load.

        - MS office

        - other online storage (coz your Apple/Google/whatever few GB wasn't enough for your stuff)

        - broadband

        - phone

        - Netflix

        - Prime

        - Sky

        - probably a few random phone apps

        - random other stuff (for example, I long ago lost the argument with Mrs Fink about installing a water softener, so we're stuck with paying for salt for the rest of our lives...)

        That's a lot of $/£ going out on a constant basis.

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: the wonderful opportunity it is.

          I've been doing some consolidation lately and binning off a lot of not-so-exensive to silly-expensive items.

          For me, the big ticket items were Sky TV (Sky Q, multiple mini boxes, the full package because the kids liked to watch stuff) - literally finally binned them last month after getting the kids on board with a Freesat box running Wooshbuild Infinity.

          My broadband supplier charges no line rental, so the phone line I have to keep, purely for this service is effectively free to me.

          Netflix and Prime I do subscribe, to but this was also a contributing factor in binning off Sky - I noticed as a family we were watching more and more stuff on these services and less and less on Sky.

          My online storage is free other than the cost of running a virtual server and NAS - I use Seafile and it does a bloody brilliant job. I moved to it years ago from Owncloud as for some reason I could never get to the bottom of, OC started to eat files on a semi-regular but entirely random basis.

        2. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

          Re: the wonderful opportunity it is.

          You assume everyone actually has access to broadband. In some rural areas in the US almost half of the homes are simply not served by broadband. No MS Office for those poor people. "Poor" in this case does not refer to income levels, as many of these homes run close to $1M or more.

          But here's the silver lining: no fees for broadband, Netflix, Prime, YouTube Premium, cable subscriptions, and, of course, no recurring MS Office fees.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: the wonderful opportunity it is.

          You missed spotify, Itunes, BBC tax, Newspaper paywalls, (times, Telegraph et al) and many more.

  15. SVV Silver badge

    Poor justification

    Microsoft's argument is that regular updates occasionally add a new feature, which gives you a new tool in your box, so you're definitely not being shafted.

    1. Marcelo Rodrigues
      Devil

      Re: Poor justification

      "Microsoft's argument is that regular updates occasionally add a new feature, which gives you a new tool in your box, so you're definitely not being shafted."

      Unless the update is a shafting tool, to be used on you!

  16. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Office

    I still have M$ 2016 on my windows test machine, the last version I'll ever buy. It will never expire, and I'll not give M$ another red cent for anything. To be honest, Libre Office is more compatible than M$ is on older docs.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Office

      I'm curious how they will find all of us who are using 2016 or older. Here on my box, the Windows 7 partition never sees the Internet as it's more of legacy programs that I use. The Linux side... only for Internet use currently. But stil... are they going to door to door and insist on checking your computer? How will they get "everyone" as there's an implication that one has to have acquired Office via employment? Greedy bastards.

  17. joed

    only fools pay

    It's safe to assume that businesses participating in Home Use program have already assigned e3 license to employees. This entitles to bunch of installs across devices of users' choice. Let's call it sideloading (someone paid for it so freeloading it is not). Keep files locally and Office is Office. For honest folks or these that simply don't trust MS, there are open source options. And obviously old versions of MSO (regardless of their license status). Absolutely no reason for consumers to fill up MS coffers.

  18. bangon2006

    Microsoft Office is still the office software that dominates the world. They gave us a great platform, and now they have a fee, it's fine, don't expect anything to be free forever ..!

    ----------

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They gave us a great platform and then proceeded to thoroughly fuck it up over successive iterations. TFTFY

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're not serious, now are you? Really? </scoffs>

      Then again, you have to commend Microsoft for living up to expectations. Saw the excellent program yesterday on the Beeb on the rise and fall of Nokia, which if you think about it, showed similar, by now common practice business dynamics. Loved it when the developer of the keyless, touch screen, swipe-able, full internet access phone (no, that was not an Apple invention ;) pointed out in dry Finnish fashion that he was so frustrated with the presentation of the "revolutionary iPhone" that he threw his model against the wall. And that his "charge every 2 weeks" model still worked. But by now nobody has a problem with charging every day and spending wads of money if your precious falls. Shows you that "people" are sheep, just waiting to swallow the BS you feed them. And MS is doing nothing more than "utilising their opportunities" because they "take service to their customers very seriously"...

      1. batfink Silver badge

        The problem here is that Apple have successfully identified that it's not what you sell, but how you sell it. They've taken their lead from other manufacturers of "luxury" products - cars, handbags, watches, whatever.

        They have swanky stores. The presentation of their products is carefully managed - look at the packaging when you buy an iThing. However, the greatest part of this is the presentation in their advertising campaigns. They clearly spend a fortune advertising how desirable their product is, in glossy, meaningless pictures, rather than what features it has.

        Their competitors haven't got it yet. Feature- and performance-wise, we all know that Android tend to be well ahead of Apple. However, IMO they're not pitching this right. They need to fight against the fact that Apple loudly trumpet their latest/greatest shiny product as if it has cutting-edge features even though it's actually well behind the Android equivalent. I think that, say, Samsung would do well by putting out ads saying things like "Can't make TouchID work yet? It works fine out OUR phones!". Ditto battery life etc. IMO a bit of pointing and laughing would dent that Apple image of desirability.

    3. N2 Silver badge

      don't expect anything to be free forever

      Not heard of Linux then?

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Not heard of Linux then?

        Just you wait. MS will be coming out with their Linux (again) and everyone will jump on the bandwagon. The only caveat (picked up from Oracle no doubt) will be the subscription fee for everything.

        At least RedHat releases CentOS which is functionally the same as RHEL at zero cost. Although that may change once IBM digests RedHat and throws most of in into the Do Not Recycle bin.

        Nothing in this world is truly free apart from the air that we breathe (I hope)

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          Re: Not heard of Linux then?

          At least RedHat releases CentOS which is functionally the same as RHEL at zero cost. Although that may change once IBM digests RedHat and throws most of in into the Do Not Recycle bin.

          If they do then all my machines will run Debian - when I next refresh them.

        2. The Central Scrutinizer

          Re: Not heard of Linux then?

          "Just you wait. MS will be coming out with their Linux (again) and everyone will jump on the bandwagon. The only caveat (picked up from Oracle no doubt) will be the subscription fee for everything."

          And your evidence/rationale for that would be....?

    4. TonyJ Silver badge

      "...Microsoft Office is still the office software that dominates the world. They gave us a great platform, and now they have a fee, it's fine, don't expect anything to be free forever ..!.."

      Wait...what? You know you've always had to PAY for Office, right? Subcription based or not, it was never free.

  19. Gaius

    The Register: lol, you can pwn Windows through unpatched software

    Also The Register: omg Microsoft is EEEEVIL for forcing people onto continuous updates

    Can’t win, can they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh they sure can win.

      They can win by not removing the $15 option (which, for our company at least, ended last December).

      They can win by allowing people to keep the same benefit which they previously had, which was to allow them to purchase a particular edition (eg, Office 2019) and providing the security updates until that product goes EOL ... like they have in the past.

      This is just Microsoft being plain greedy and trying to squeeze their customers even more.

      I'm a techie in our desktop support area and you wouldn't believe the amount of people who've gone to Libre Office because they won't or can't pay $70 a year for something that used to cost them, on average, $15 every 2 years.

      Given the amount of money that Micro$oft makes from their corporate customers - somewhere around $500 a year per seat for a fairly standard desktop licensing pack (not including server licensing or CALs) - it's a pretty cheeky ask.

      The whole marketing spiel of the HUP (Home Use Program) was - originally - that it was to let people effectively "piggyback" off their employers' licence; the thinking being that the employers licence wasn't being used while the employee was using their personal computer at home.

      In fact I remember when the HUP was a free perk - that was not so long ago.

      But now it pretty much becomes just another marketing campaign.

      Like so many others before them, Microsoft are trying to slay the golden goose to get all the money at once. This might not hurt them as much as these practices hurt, say, Nokia, but it's certainly not going to help their overall image in the wider universe.

      1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        If MS went back to the pay-to-buy model I would guess that they'd simply shorten the product support duration to get more renewal sales.

  20. georgezilla Bronze badge

    And people still believe that Microsoft aren't the Evil Empire?

    < scratching head and asking..... >

    Huh?

    How?

    Why?

    1. Phage

      They've become the Allosaurus to the new T-Rex. There are bigger monsters now.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      And people still believe that Microsoft aren't the Evil Empire?

      Nope, just one of the evil empires (and way behind Facebook in evil).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's no wonder...

    It's no wonder people are trying to pirate Microsft Office products.

    Like this bloke here:

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/10/25/kaspersky_nsa_keygen_backdoor_office/

  22. SonofRojBlake

    I feel like such an old git.

    When I was a kid, you just bought a TV, a car, a CD player and a piece of computer software.

    Sure, you might get a loan, because some of those things could be expensive, but once you'd bought them, that was it.

    Now, my TV keeps pestering me to sign up to this or (or possible AND) that subscription streaming service. My CD player and even my MP3 player make me look like a dinosaur, because everyone I know is saying "Alexa, play Baby Shark", and their Spotify subscription ensure it's not interrupted by ads. Despite having a low-to-middling job they're tooling around in a Maserati on PCP - they're paying as much as they'd pay to actually buy a sensible car they could own, but that's not good enough.

    Office is just of a piece with the general trend across a lot of industries to move from soaking us once to drip-feeding money out of our accounts every single month forever, and I come across like a grumpy old man for rebelling against it.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: I feel like such an old git.

      To be fair, in the early days packages like Word Perfect were a few hundred quid, back when a few hundred quid was worth an awful lot more.

      1. Long John Silver
        Pirate

        Re: I feel like such an old git.

        Yes but they did kick-start software piracy.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft ought to try fixing bugs, header and paragraph numbering has frequently tuned into black boxes for over a decade now.

    https://superuser.com/questions/238077/word-heading-number-blacked-out

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libre Office (aka Open Office)

    You realize there is Libre Office right? You can just download it. It's free to download, and legal.

    Why anybody still uses MS Office is beyond me. I can see companies FORCING you to use it, but in silicon valley, a lot of companies long ago abandoned MS Office, because there is a free alternative.

    It's been out for decades.

  25. I'm Dugly

    I'm done

    Just last week I estimated that, depending on various software versions such as regular/pro, using a Win laptop with my current software kit could cost between $1000 to $2000 per year. Many software companies are delusional about the value of their products and customer willingness to load-up a bunch of subscription-based programs. I set-up Linux on a spare laptop and have decided to cut-over to that for personal use. Client organizations often do not want alien machines on their networks, so the justification of maintaining a MS laptop for contract use is becoming less critical. M$ can extort money from their enterprise organizations, but there is no justification for home users to go that route.

    My work requirements are: an office suite, project management software, a similar tool that provides simple MS Visio functionality, and accounting software a la QuickBooks. In addition to LibreOffice, there is ProjectLibre. I'm looking at a couple of potential replacements for QuickBooks and converting will be a project in itself. Intuit has a garden wall that can be considered more formidable than Apple: they have a proprietary file system, their software apparently doesn't play well with Wine, and using QB on a monthly on-line subscription costs plenty, particularly if payroll is added. A on-line QB subscription will cost me ~$500 per year.

    winehq.org has a list of windows software with performance ratings. Unfortunately, MS Project, Visio and QuickBooks are scored as "garbage". If anyone has a positive experience running those apps on Wine I'd be interested in knowing of it.

  26. big_D Silver badge

    Amazon...

    I get my Office 365 Home subscription from Amazon, that costs $70, so the same price as the discounted version from Microsoft. Where is the incentive?

  27. Adelio

    The only office app i use regulaly is Outlook (2003)., daily, Word/Excel probably 4 or 5 times a year.

    Why would i need or want to upgrade to a newer office version,. The version I have JUST works.

    I cannot abide web based e-mail, in fact most web based apps suck. Give me a thick client any day.

    Note: I am getting on ~60 but I have yet to see a web based app that is better and more functional than it's thick client equivelant.

    Pretty!, who cares, make it work right and THEN make it pretty. (Microsoft, are you listening?)

    I know web is the way forward, but it still feels soooo clunky and brain dead.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      The only office app i use regulaly is Outlook (2003).

      And you can replace that without any problem with another email client like Thunderbird. And yes, I did that back in 2005, since that time Thunderbird has improved a lot more.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Thunderbird has improved a lot more

        I'm also a long-term user of Thunderbird - largely because it's truely cross-platform (Windows/Linux/MacOS).

        It has one or two wrinkles (forwarding an HTML-based[1] email can sometimes give you odd results) but, in general, it does everything I want. Even access to calendaring (if you need such a thing at home and don't want to use the Gargle calendar..)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big savings!!!

    they can fuck off and die. The reason cheapskates like me bought that 15USD package (for something around 8 GBP at that time here), was that we are cheapskates. 15USD for a good few years of use is a very good deal indeed, 70 USD subscription per year is stupid. MS probably know this and it's just their way to kill off their - genuinely generous - offer they introduced a good few years ago.

  29. Arniesdad

    What's wrong with Open Office? Have used it for years with no problems.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Nothing wrong with OpenOffice besides the fact their development stalled for a couple of years, so now LibreOffice (a fork from OpenOffice) is better.

  30. pop_corn

    Is the Microsoft Action Pack wheeze still a thing? I'm looking at 2 MAP boxes on my shelf right now, which have supplied most of my software needs for the last 15 years (yes I'm still clinging onto my Windows 7 Professional edition for grim death!) all for a few $hundred. :D

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      I thought it had gone, but it still exists.

      However, you do realise that you're only supposed to use the Action Pack licenses whilst your subscription is current - i.e. for a year?

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        MAPS doesn't give physical media.

        Sounds like you actuallys had a TechNet subcription before they canned that.

        Mind you, you weren't supposed to use TechNet out of a lab whereas MAPS does give you internal use rights.

        Actually, for those of us who work in the MS sphere, MAPS is a good buy. £350 a year but you get £75 a month of Azure credits.

        No, it's not a replacement in any way, shape, or form, but it's not a bad alternative to TechNet (though not having access to legacy versions is a crock - one of the great things with TechNet was the ability to test migrations and upgrades, but then MS decided "Hey we have online labs now". Yeah, MS, but they don't include legacy versions, ffs.

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          MAPS did provide physical media, I have a couple on a shelf nearby. This would be at least ten years ago, though.

          The other subscriptions were for testing, yes, not for development or internal use.

          MAPS is a complete bargain considering the number of licenses it includes.

  31. steviebuk Silver badge

    And they wonder why...

    ...people turn to piracy. When software starts turning into a yearly expense when it used to be a one off. Now you have to budget for a yearly cost. Or better yet, move to Libra Office.

    This industry and the movie industry will never learn. Make it simple and easier than having to pirate and people will pay you money. But when I have to fucking search my Netflix sub, Amazon sub and NOWTV sub for The Burbs, a movie that was out in the 80s and find it now gone from all, you know what happens (I buy the DVD but some don't). And when you force me into choose LG TVs because its the only fucking TV that supports NOWTV due to exclusive rights issues its no wonder people fucking hate company practices and will pirate where they can.

    1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: And they wonder why...

      Libra Office? Is that a new office suite that you pay in Zuck bucks?

    2. AIBailey Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: And they wonder why...

      Nobody has forced you to buy a LG TV for NowTV. - just pick up a Now TV box for about a tenner. Works fine on my Sony TV (which admittedly already has Netflix and Amazon).

      I'm not sure what your beef is with Now TV in particular, it's not like it's difficult to watch (available on LG Smart TV's, Samsung Smart TV's, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, plus about 5 varieties of NowTV STB's)

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: And they wonder why...

        It never used to be. When I got my LG several years ago I discovered it was all over the net that if I wanted NOWTV then only LG had the rights for now. Guess that has changed.

    3. Long John Silver
      Pirate

      Re: And they wonder why...

      We are in a period of transition from a time when so-called 'intellectual property' (IP) was inextricably linked to particular instances of a substrate (e.g. paper, celluloid, and vinyl) and thus it was natural to identify 'content' with its physical manifestation. Consequently, 'content' could be traded just like other goods. Scarcity, supply, demand, and competition - ingredients of traditional market-economics - would apply and monetary value could be ascribed to each instance of physically embodied 'content'. In theory, there could be 'price discovery'.

      From inception of copyright (which by intention applied to entitlement to distribute 'content on physical media) only the distorted market-economics of monopoly could apply. Concepts of ownership and price persisted unhindered. Moreover, well into the 20th century logical distinction between 'content' and substrate (i.e. medium and message) was little mentioned because in practice the qualitative differences were inseparable. Introduction of photocopying and its widespread implementation may have marked general understanding that printed 'content' does not depend for existence on pre-determined physical instances (e.g. books) possessing scarcity. Thereafter, copyright became an increasingly contentious matter, especially in academic libraries. Contention broadened as it became apparent that other cultural artefacts (e.g. sound recordings) were separable (e.g. by home taping) from their initial medium of distribution.

      Introduction of digital encoding and ease of replicating sequences of binary digits destroyed ersatz scarcity as defensible means for extracting income from creative endeavour. Thus have arisen 'copyright wars', these increasing in intensity as the futility of 'protecting' digital sequences by corralling them within pay-walls becomes ever more apparent. Obviously, computer software in its various guises (i.e. source code printed on paper, source code in digital format, and fully compiled code) is as prone to escape into the wild as the caterwauling of a 'pop star'.

      Although vested interests, primarily distributors rather than creators, would have one believe otherwise, the matter is not one of ownership 'rights' versus 'theft' (a legal concept that can't apply to indefinitely reproducible sequences). Practicability rather than morality is in contention. If a farmer cannot build strong enough fences his livestock will stray and may reproduce of its own accord. The analogy goes further when one considers stray animals mating with strays from elsewhere; that gives rise to possibility of hybrid vigour among offspring; this vigour is counterpart to cultural exuberance consequent upon 'derivation' from extant works in copyright; 'derivation' is almost completely forbidden during copyright terms (up to lifetime of author plus 70 years); long periods of 'protection' represent fallow ground and introduce delay between a work leading to a creative offshoot from another person.

      Of course, creators of 'content' which people choose to value (culturally) need encouragement and must be enabled to make a living. Yet, under current conditions their efforts will become increasingly futile. No longer may they assume that their 'product' has arbitrarily determined monetary value and can draw rental (royalties) for long periods. Instead, what they may place into a genuine market is their skill to make 'content' people desire. They, individually and in collectives, must persuade people by a variety of voluntary means (e.g. patronage, subscription, donation, and sale of added value products) to fund their next endeavour. If they have sufficient support to make a full time living, they must set aside some income towards a pension. There being no longer need for 'rights' holding intermediaries will change the market dynamic and usher in cultural renaissance.

      In many respects software production and distribution is well down this pathway. The open source movement is benefiting traditional vendors as well as new entrants to software development. The final step is for current vendors like Microsoft to grasp that their digital products have zero direct monetary worth (and will freely be copied as belonging to the Commons) whereas maintenance, support, innovation, and bespoke services will provide income. Perhaps, monoliths like Microsoft have had their day. Maybe, software production and related services are better suited to cottage sized industry. In that context, Microsoft and producers/distributors of other kinds of 'content' are becoming modern Luddites (wielding law rather than iron bars to protect their interests) whilst workers in cottages are the cutting edge of the maturing digital revolution.

      1. NetBlackOps
        Pint

        Re: And they wonder why...

        Outstandingly good post.

      2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: And they wonder why...

        Lovely prose, but complete rubbish.

        'Zero direct monetary worth'? 'voluntary means'?

        Obvious pushing of your own agenda here. The fact it is easier to pirate software does not make it right, or reduce the value of a product.

        There are many free alternatives to Office. People are whinging about the increase in price of the official product, therefore it has a value.

  32. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I would say I was surprised

    ... but I prefer to tell the truth.

    Unfortunately I'm the only one in my entire extended family not caught in the Microsoft headlights. You know they are lost when they refer to this as the official office software.

  33. gcla72
    Pint

    Do Munich Council get a special deal?

    Now they have been bribed back onto the M$ ecosystem to save money.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/24/munich_will_spend_about_50_million_euros_on_windows_migration/

    It's nearly Oktoberfest so have a bier.

  34. DrBobK

    Can you still get KMS tool?

  35. andy 103
    FAIL

    What home users actually need this?

    I've never understood why people feel the need to have Office on their home computer.

    If your workplace demands that you need to use it - outside of work - then they can damn well pay for it.

    If you're a home user, why are you creating Powerpoint presentations? If you need to write a letter you don't need Word. Google Docs, OpenOffice or LibreOffice will suffice. Basic spreadsheets? Again tons of free software that doesn't have the overhead that Excel does. You don't need macros if you're doing a monthly budget for your food shopping. Outlook? Thunderbird, Apple Mail or web based email. Access? Is that even still a thing?

    There is no functionality in Office that anyone needs for "home use".

    1. slartybartfast

      Re: What home users actually need this?

      I keep records of all my self employed earnings in a handy LibreOffice spreadsheet. Back in the day, I even used it to write a college dissertation, with an updatable contents using styles (can’t for the life of me remember how I did it though). I pretty much ditched M$ Office when Open Office became a viable option - now using LibreOffice, of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What home users actually need this?

      in short: home. office. gig economy. your client's your master. you're welcome :(

  36. Graham Jordan

    RAGE to 365

    Why the fuck can't I work offline using 365? Seriously MS, how fucking difficult is it to save the file locally then sync to the cloud at the next available opportunity?

    I'm writing a (bad) novel. 100,000 words + is not something I want to have to check every fucking time you've moved it elsewhere or were unable to save changes.

    I've tried Libra Office but really don't like it. If you want a slim down version of what looks and feels like Word, then WPS Office does the job.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: RAGE to 365

      For a novel, Word probably isn't the right choice. An outlining/collapsing text editor is likely better.

      You don't need layout, typesetting, or graphics, so Word is somewhat overkill.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: RAGE to 365

        For a novel, Word probably isn't the right choice. An outlining/collapsing text editor is likely better

        And there are plenty of products (open-source or paid) designed specifically for authoring. Some are even usable..

        (One day I'll get round to writing that novel that's been kicking around in my head for the last 10 years. Preferrably before I go senile and forget it all..)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OneNote

    I only use a MS HUP because it was the easiest way to get OneNote (the legacy one with all the features rather than the skimmed milk latest variant).

    This is because I store useful work things in OneNote, scripts etc, and sync with onedrive so I can see these things on the mobile.

    Now I guess I'll have a horrific decision to make over whether I keep this practice alive (and pay this sharks fee per year) or migrate to another note-taking app (the important requirement is whatever I use has to be available at future IT companies, as I've kept various onenotes alive throughout 2 job changes so far)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OneNote

      "I only use a MS HUP because it was the easiest way to get OneNote (the legacy one with all the features rather than the skimmed milk latest variant)."

      Havent you then heard of the latest marketing mantra?

      "Less is more"

      Skimmed milk was once more expensive at Tesco, due to extra processing involved in removing that 2% extra fat !

  38. QuantumWarrior

    As someone whose company uses and sells Office 365 I wasn't even aware that this program existed, and after reading about it I'm still not sure why they bothered creating it in the first place except to extract money from people who don't know any better.

    Business licences already let you install Office on 5 machines and I've never seen anyone with more than 3 who hasn't forgotten to uninstall it from something, so everyone just uses their business login at home. Hopefully this comment can help them avoid continuing on this pointless program.

    It might be worth putting that in the body of the article too? As someone else said, it's explicitly mentioned in the documentation for business licences that they can be used on home computers, might help some as-yet-uneducated businesses keep some of their cash out of Microsoft's hands.

  39. JokerQB

    I do like not only Microsoft office, but Outlook as well. I mean the complete software for PCs.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      I won't discuss taste, it is your choice and your money. I prefer something with a bit less overkill in useless options and if it is cheaper as well, fine by me.

  40. Milton Silver badge

    "it wants everyone to be a paying subscriber"

    "But the truth is that it wants everyone to be a paying subscriber rather than a one-off software purchase ..."

    And the bigger truth, as no doubt many respondents here are saying, is that "everyone" can pay nothing at all for LibreOffice. On an excellent free *x OS. An OS that doesn't inflict "updates" and "improvements" requiring hours of downtime and rollback and restores. Sofware and OS without spyware, nagware, conware, bloatware or indeed any -ware that I don't want, don't need and which blights the day with constant reminders of Redmond's greed. A system which doesn't expect me to act as an unpaid beta tester-cum-victim. Doing everything I need in a split-second, with none of those delightfully unpredictable 30-second freezes and random logouts. My private data on my machine, away from prying eyes and profilers and thieves. (Where, if I don't take personal responsibility for my own encryption, backup and password management, I have only myself to blame.)

    I understand that the corporate world is now thoroughly entrapped by the MS briar patch or "ecosystem" of sofware—explicitly and increasingly designed, this last 15 years, to act as punji traps to render "customers" helplessly entangled—so I'll use O365 if my employer or client insists upon it. (There's always a giggle to be had as you transition from a form here to another over there, and realise that the first was coded by someone competent who'd read the corporate UI rules, while the latter had been hawked up by a colour-blind $4-an-hour triply-outsourced slave working in a crowded warehouse in Uttar Chapati ... and it's even worse in products like Dynamics, where bits of the UI are so discordant that it's like finding a triffid on the lawn.)

    If you're a private citizen or small business with the freedom not to choose Microsoft ... well, why would you choose it?

  41. slartybartfast

    So for home users, pay the annual fee, either upgrade (complete with bugs no doubt) when a new version is available or continue with the same version you’re using whilst still paying the annual fee until M$ discontinue it and force you to upgrade. Win win for M$. No thanks, I’ll stick with LibreOffice.

  42. Howard Hanek
    Linux

    Micromaniacsoft

    Well, actually Macromaniacsoft really should stop listening to those 'voices'. There can be such a thing as a mentally ill organization. Take IBM for example.....

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old Friends

    I recently install Lotus 123 on two Windows 10 machines. :-)

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Old Friends

      I recently install Lotus 123 on two Windows 10 machines

      I presume that the extensive therapy didn't work then? I can't imagine any reason other than clinically-extreme masochism that would lead you to do that..

      (Strangely enough - the very first money I earned 'doing IT' wasa day or so to write some L123 macros at the company my then-girlfriend (now wife of ~32 years) was working at. The person that commissioned the work left 1 month later and the macros never actually got used..)

  44. ecofeco Silver badge

    Many here called it

    And yet the downvotes came like rain.

    And MS will continue on this path for its OS.

    Welcome back to mainframe/terminal hell!

  45. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Charge less, own the market

    MS Office is way over bloated. There just isn't anything else they can bolt on that has much value. If they put it on subscription for $25/£20 per year or less for free updates (no payment otherwise), nobody else could develop half the product and market it for less. What would be left is a world with one office suite. Any competition would only be viable in very specific vertical markets and most of the big ones already have Office extensions.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Charge less, own the market

      They already own the market. They believe the market will stand this price increase. Time will tell if this is accurate or not.

      Word contains a lot of functionality, the issue is that everyone uses a different 5%. Most people won't use the equation editor, but the people that need it will really appreciate it.

  46. Baudwalk

    It's still good value...

    ...IF you want cloud storage.

    1TB OneDrive for you and 1TB each for 5 other family members.

    I like DropBox' interface a lot more, but this price is damn hard to beat. And that's before adding in the Office pack for everyone, should they want it.

    And with rclone, the Linux <-> OneDrive experience has been very nice for me too.

  47. Eduard Coli

    Whats old is bad again

    I believe Ballmer wanted to do this in M$ troublesome youth.

    The problem is there are good/better alternatives.

    LibreOffice is compatible and has a shallow learning curve and is free.

    Google Docs is also compatible and has a shallow learning curve and is available for the small price of one soul.

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