back to article Microsoft welcomes ancient Project app to the 365 family, meaning bleak future for on-prem

Microsoft has rolled out the cloud-based version of its venerable project management software, Project, along with a new basic subscription option. Redmond first announced its intention to rebuild Project at its 2018 Ignite conference. Although Project Online has existed for some time, it was not fully integrated with Office …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft"

    Of course it does. Bring everything into Azure, tag on subscription plans and watch the Cloud revenue stream gradually replace the OS one as Windows slowly fades into oblivion (ok, veeryyy slowly).

    Microsoft is not full of idiots - just the GUI department is.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft"

      Otherwise expressed as "why sell a piece of software to the customer once, when you can rent it to them and have them pay you for ever more?"

      1. poohbear

        Re: "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft"

        Now if only the programmers were part of that recurring income model .... like the music industry.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft"

        ...the small bonus might be though, that once we start renting, and MS get a guaranteed income, they won't feel the need to 'innovate' and unnecessarily move stuff about just to make it look like they are doing something, so they can flog us an 'improved' version.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft"

          I don't see it. The subscription model pretty-much compells companies to keep "innovating" so their victims, sorry, sorry, subscribers, feel they're getting continued value from their rent.

          In turn this leads to buggy software releases and poor excuses for innovation, because of C-suite pressure to emit new versions at regular cadence, regardless of quality/usefulness.

          1. P. Lee

            Re: "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft"

            You only need to innovate if you have competition.

            The nice thing about subscription is that you can vary the price. Who is going to create a new Project competitor if they know all MS needs to do destroy them is to lower the price for a year or two until they go out of business, or roll it in with the rest of Office? There is no network of resellers who need support, who bought the product and will respond negatively if you slash the price to zero. MS can push a button and respond to commercial threats with cross-subsidisation instantly.

  2. Kevin Johnston

    How much?

    OK, I know business accountants seem to work in very different realities but that is looking like a huge financial hit for the privilige of 'Cloud'. I also get the whole integrating systems etc etc but why do large scale businesses seem to think every single employee needs to create files which every other employee will need to see? How about scaling this stuff so that only people who really need it (plus senior managers obvs) get the whole cloudy experience while every who just needs the simple stuff makes do with purchase-once locally installed?

    Not sure when the world got duped into this rental-only model but we see in now in all the software (Win10 any day now surely) along with PCs, servers, cars and such. This can only be termed a cost saving if it is critical you have the latest go-faster stripes but how likely is that, how many of the features added since 2010 actually are an improvement on any of this stuff?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much?

      When you find out which reality they are in, please let us all know so we can nuke it.

      Accountants are turning into a bigger nightmare than the PHBs ever were.

    2. FuzzyWuzzys
      Facepalm

      Re: How much?

      "rental-only model but we see in now in all the software (Win10 any day now surely) "

      When have you ever owned a copy of Windows?! It's been license/rental only since v1.0!

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: How much?

        The big difference is the "rental" part. At the moment you don't buy Windows (as you say), but you do buy a license to use Windows. Hence once you've made that one-time payment, you can use that version of Windows as long as you like (you're even free to use it once it is out of support).

        MS will ultimately move Windows to a monthly license fee model though. It's inevitable really. I imagine they'll bring out a subscription service including other MS services like OneDrive, then after a while they'll quietly discontinue standalone licenses claiming "lack of demand" or something. Still we'll see...

        1. Crypto Monad

          Re: How much?

          > MS will ultimately move Windows to a monthly license fee model though. It's inevitable really.

          I doubt it. That's the *one* thing they could do which would make a significant proportion of PC owners try switching their desktops to Linux.

          Charge 5p for a carrier bag and the vast majority of people will bring their own...

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: How much?

      $10 seems really high. We're a small company with under ten Office 365 licences - and we're paying about £15 a month each. For that money there's no way we could manage an internal Exchange server - and so it's really good value for money. And leaves me (the only IT literater person in the company) free to do my actual job. We could have it even cheaper if we didn't want the real apps on our computers, and use the online only ones.

      So how does this software justify being half the price of a full Office sub? Surely the way for MS to get extra cash out of us is to offer add-ons at relatively cheap prices, to tempt us into adding them to the package?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: How much?

        For that money there's no way we could manage an internal Exchange server - and so it's really good value for money.

        What's the cost if MS 'pulls the plug' in some fashion?

        I can see the value in going cloud for a lot of things - I can do much more with a smaller device if I can readily access my data. I don't need as powerful a CPU if the server does the heavy work etc.

        But..

        I can back up my data locally or remotely if I wish, however if the software is all remote then how can I back that up? If the software is remote, and I cannot get online, how can I work? (perhaps being in NZ where damage to infrastructure and loss of coms for a few days has always been a business risk you have to consider and plan around makes me a little more wary of not being able to continue to work - OTOH it'd make for a lot more days at home on full pay if any future IT firm I worked for was all-cloud and nothing local! :) )

        I'd rather work long hours at nights and weekends after the office closes to build my own systems and make sure all stuff is owned by and available to us then have the stress of wondering if a company is going to suddenly shut something down, or suddenly demand license fees above what we can afford (not that MS would ever suddenly end a product of theirs...)

        And surely exchange isn't so bad that it needs constant babysitting? My old cloud/email server needs some help from time to time but even that's a matter of just doing some basic maintenance and clean up after checking with the few users that they're able to risk the loss of old versions of files - no more than an hour every couple of months. Reason it still runs is I really need to dedicate several days to making sure the replacement server has all the data etc, and every time I look at migrating the databases I feel it will take a lot longer than I want to contemplate babysitting and verifying. (Yes, that gives them calendar (across IOS, Android, OSX, Linux and Windows) and email and doc editing and tons of other stuff I'm barely even aware of - still confuzzled as to why people stick with office/that horrid email client whose name I thankfully cannot remember (please no one tell me!)/exchange etc when there's so much equivalent or better but much cheaper around!)

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: How much?

          Kiwi,

          I doubt that Microsoft are just going to shut down Office 365. It's one of their most profitable businesses and what they see as the future of their company.

          I have offline copies of our emails. And I control our domains. So if it suddenly disappears I'll have to scramble to set up some other email service and deal with it the best I can. The alternative though is that we pay an external IT shop to manage an Exchange server for us, and they're much more likely to go bust than Microsoft, it'll cost maybe twice as much as we pay now (it was a bit less than that when we used to do it this way) and the service will be a bit less reliable.

          Or alterantively we could treble the size of our company at which point it might be worth employing a full-time IT person. At the moment that's me, but I'm not competent to manage an Exchange server, and have no intention of learning. I support our PCs and deal with IT in the breaks between actual paying work.

          For a large company, there are much better alternatives. For a company our size cloud is far more reliable and cost effective than what we can do ourselves.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: How much?

            Apols for my regular late response :)

            I doubt that Microsoft are just going to shut down Office 365. It's one of their most profitable businesses and what they see as the future of their company.

            Shut it down? Maybe not. Change terms, remove your data, suddenly cut your allowance etc? They've done that. Decide features are not going to be supported any more despite a large % of their userbase begging them to retain it? They've done that a few times.

            What about the legal implications? Do you work with other people's information? What of the privacy laws where you and your customers are based - can you survive having client data sent to MS? I'd hate to discover my Dr had moved to W10 (they haven't as yet), and will be making things a bit more difficult for them if they do, until I am satisfied that their IT arrangements meet the rights I have RE data protection/privacy. Same for any one else.

            I have offline copies of our emails. And I control our domains. So if it suddenly disappears I'll have to scramble to set up some other email service and deal with it the best I can.

            I ran ours on an old laptop, admittedly that only supported a few staff and also some friends were given access for the hell of it/testing purposes. Perhaps 10 people/accounts in total. Didn't take much to set up (perhaps a weekend) and maintenance was trivial.

            I also did my own jobs as well as supporting our customers. I did web design work, some on my server some on other arrangements, and a fair bit of other stuff, supporting Windows Mac and Linux. Oh and Android (we didn't do IOS stuff but more from a lack of experience than anything else).

            Admittedly I did work many more hours than the shop was open, but it was mine and I was intent on making it work. (small tip for business success, don't hire a lying cheating thieving bitch as a business manager!)

            At the moment that's me, but I'm not competent to manage an Exchange server, and have no intention of learning. I support our PCs and deal with IT in the breaks between actual paying work.

            --> There's enough effort in supporting PC's days so I don't blame you on not doing Exchange! :) I honestly am happier being (mostly) out of it.

            For a large company, there are much better alternatives. For a company our size cloud is far more reliable and cost effective than what we can do ourselves.

            As you've probably seen, I'm a cautious cloud advocate. I've seen come firms die or majorly change (Mega could go the same way as Megaupload, copy.com was decent but suddenly cut storage services, MS has changed/cut storage services and other things, AWS commonly gets hacked (usually due to user error but not always it seems). I do from time to time use other services where they can provide better than I can but I strongly advocate if you use another's computer make sure you keep your own copies of data (properly backed up) and if you cannot back up the software then have a way of replicating it (even if just saving to standard formats rather than proprietary).

            Couple of years back we had the Kaikoura quake, which was interesting on both sides of the cloud debate. Some buildings were damaged so much that people were not allowed to even remove parked cars from the streets outside let alone go in to retrieve computers. Anyone with all their data on-prem and no where else was screwed whereas places with all their data in "the cloud" would've been OK.

            OTOH, areas were without power for a while (12 hours for my suburb so not bad, but others were out for a while longer) and coms were down in places as well. Those with all their data available and mobile enough to move would be OK, those with power but no internet could not use cloud anything.

            We've had large-scale internet losses (whether a telco's systems go TITSUP or 'natural disasters" knock out coms lines) as well. Oh, and un-natural ones like the idiots at Chorus who list "single digit IQ" as one of their prime qualifications it seems (Chorus manages most of our telecoms infrastructure).

            I guess I advocate backups by whatever means gets you running quickly. Me - had our shop server and had another machine in a mate's closet, now have the two split up across geographically different areas. When we had a long-term outage I was able to change DNS entries to the backup system once I drove far enough to get a connection.

            But yes, I wouldn't want to manage exchange either :) I did owncloud for data and calender stuff (pretty much outta the box setup) and IIRC "Flurdy" was the guy who wrote the email tut I followed. Apache+PHP for the web stuff. (IIRC - been a while since I actually had to pay any attention to it!)

      2. Douglas Wardle

        Re: How much?

        Look at the price of MSP Project Professional on the MS store: US$1030.00 Compare that to MS Office - any of the standalone variations. I'm surprised MS isn't charging double the subscription cost of O365, as that would be in keeping with the differential between Project and their office products.

        Project Management software is really overpriced. I downloaded a copy of ProjectLibre, an open-source product, and it is a fine alternative to MS Project for basic project management. I know that project software for major projects in the construction/engineering space is needed, but not for most small to medium IT projects. There are many Excel templates that do the job adequately.

        1. Mage Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: How much?

          Smaller projects only need a spreadsheet and one manager that spends a few minutes a day or even per week updating it.

          I used to give courses in MS Project and was appalled how many people were sent on the course with zero training in project management, or indeed in anything other than doing work set by a supervisor. Also it's better suited to NON-Software projects. Big ones.

    4. Mage Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Not sure when the world got duped into this rental-only model

      Long before PCs and minicomputers. Not just HW & SW, but um, buildings and cars too.

      Sometimes leasing or rental makes sense. Not with most computer HW & SW for most businesses.Locks the small to medium into dependency on the Cloud Provider and ISP.

      Risks the world infrastructure because if one retail chain, business or wholesale goes down it's no big deal. Even if the "Cloud" is 1000x more reliable (it's often less than decent on premises), then when it goes down it's an apocalypse.

      Fortunately the tipping point of dependence has not yet been reached.

      Set slightly in the future:

      https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Lining-Celtic-Otherworld-Book-ebook/dp/B06Y26M8Z6

      https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/716453

      Yes, it's got Fairies and Otherworlds, but I think the warnings about "The Cloud" are real.

      During the minicomputer and PC era we went forward. Digital Equipment Corp developed cheap two PC clustering that only need a pair of ordinary servers, SCSI cards with two external ports, four external SCSI bus repeater/isolators for when a PC/SCSI card failed and two external racks of SCSI drives, mirrored, as a minimum. Windows NT 4.0 Enterprise Edition. Rather cheaper than a 1991 VAX cluster.

      Outsourcing to the cloud and trusting the big USA mega corps is a backward step since that high point of development of on premises gear. Later you could use fibre and put the shelves, UPSes and servers in two separate sites.

  3. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Nothing Changes

    It used to be mainframes which slid to workstations now we're going back to servers in the cloud.

    Microsoft can only sell what people will buy. If you don't support on-prem today, don't be surprised when that option is removed and your data is held on their servers, subject to a monthly fee for access.

    Think about that. It's your data and you need to pay someone else to access it. Any business putting themselves in that position cannot complain when things go pear shaped.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Nothing Changes

      Any business putting themselves in that position cannot complain when things go pear shaped.

      Exactly!

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Linux

    More of their 'Do it our way or not at all'

    from Microsoft.

    Then it will be 'Our cloud is 50% cheaper than AWS for OUR products'

    Hey business, see those empty barrels....? Get ready to bend over and take it with a smile.

    Get used to it people. MS are indeed the new (And worse) IBM.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: More of their 'Do it our way or not at all'

      "Get used to it people. MS are indeed the new (And worse) IBM."

      Far, far worse than IBM.... With cloud based subscriptions, no piracy, no manufacturing supports ( CD, DVDs), people now pay to have their data/habits analysed.....etc etc etc ...

      Fuck I hate capitalism at these kinds of levels.

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: More of their 'Do it our way or not at all'

      Or leave Microsoft completely - eg move to Linux.

      Only today I went to see a new customer, they have (mainly) Windows 7 machines, they don't want to be without security, etc, patches from January next year. I will upgrade their machines to run Linux. Everything that they use has an equivalent that runs under Linux - they have tested them - all good enough.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: More of their 'Do it our way or not at all'

        Yes, life can be great when you have a choice, like many other companies we have legacy systems that only run in Windows....

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: More of their 'Do it our way or not at all'

          Yes, life can be great when you have a choice, like many other companies we have legacy systems that only run in Windows....

          Does MS provide a cloudy replacement option for them? Or anything other than you letting the legacy systems run for as long as you can manage? :)

          1. mr_souter_Working

            Re: More of their 'Do it our way or not at all'

            Does MS provide a cloudy replacement option for them?

            Yes - they have for a while now.

            you can publish the app (or a link to it) in Azure, you can migrate the app to Azure.

            you can do similar with Google and AWS - and I guess most (if not all) of the other major (and minor) players.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: legacy systems that only run in Windows

          Often those run better on WINE or an XP virtual machine (both on Linux) than on Windows 10 64 bit.

          Some newer Linux distros need a poke to get the WINE 32 bit support installed, which IMO is more important than 64 bit for "legacy windows" applications with no Linux replacement that may never have an upgrade released.

  5. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    "It makes perfect sense for Microsoft to pull Project fully into the Office 365 family, and to provide an upgrade path...."

    To paraphrase Arthur Dent: "Ah, this is obviously some strange usage of the word 'upgrade' that I wasn't previously aware of."

  6. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Information density

    That sample screenshot - just 10 tasks on the entire monitor screen.

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Re: Information density

      If you need more than 10 tasks then you need to redesign your tasks to suit our software!

  7. J. Cook Silver badge

    I'm wondering what happens when they go to add an 9th tier- the title "Plan 9" is already taken...

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Plan 9?

      Why would they treat Project different than Windows? It will just be named Plan 10.

      But will they "Go to 11"?

      1. fluffymitten

        Re: Plan 9?

        I do believe the learned poster is referring to this:

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plan_9_from_User_Space

        1. Paul Herber Silver badge

          Re: Plan 9?

          but the "up to 11" is a very important concept ...

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_to_eleven

  8. The Average Joe

    SAS = Software As A Service or Sex As a Service

    some don't get married

    some have a gf

    some have multiple gf's

    some get a new gf every year

    some just hookup

    some just pay a hooker

    some get married

    So SAS you can compare to getting married or not. In the long run the marriage to one woman is the least expensive. Microsoft is the hooker, a new one show up every 6 months and you have no idea if she is going to drink all your beer, do drugs when your gone and pee in your house. YMMV...

    1. Kernel Silver badge

      Re: SAS = Software As A Service or Sex As a Service

      "Microsoft is the hooker, a new one show up every 6 months and you have no idea if she is going to drink all your beer, do drugs when your gone and pee in your house. YMMV..."

      This is Microsoft, so they'll be going for a variation of the ever popular empty your wallet and leave while you're still asleep the next morning.

      1. cb7

        Re: SAS = Software As A Service or Sex As a Service

        Having given you clap

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SAS = Software As A Service or Sex As a Service

      I hope and pray she pees in the house. The neighbours complained when the last one urinated in the backyard.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some Random Comments.....

    1. About ten years ago I went on a one day training course on MS Project (the Windows/Desktop incarnation). During the day, the trainer told us ten things NEVER TO DO using the software. That's right......it wasn't about "How to use the software", it was about "Features to avoid in the software".

    *

    2. About twenty years ago there was "Project Central".....which didn't work. Then there was "Project Server".....which sort of worked. Now the Cloud has come along. Each time the customer pays twice....once for the licences and the training, then for the conversion to "the next great thing". Rinse and repeat....and more $$$$ head to Micro$oft. (George Santayana: 'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.')

    *

    3. But I thought that the Agile/Scrum/DevOps people have been telling us that projects and project management and project managers are "so twentieth century"! Obviously Redmond didn't get the memo. But then, we all know that the days of "cool kids" in Redmond, WA are also "so twentieth century"!

    *

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some Random Comments.....

      PMO is so twentieth century? I know a Transformation Director who didnt get that memo when creating the new PMO department.

    2. Strahd Ivarius

      Re: Some Random Comments.....

      Well, MS Project can be used for managing projects based on Agile/Scrum/DevOps.

      So when you break something in the production envionment you can ensure that you know who did it...

  10. FuzzyWuzzys
    Facepalm

    Looks like Larry shot his bolt 20 years too early!

    Anyone remember dear old Larry Ellison's vision of his "Network Computer" back in the 1990s? He said we'd all buy one and rent apps from a server over phone lines, he even built prototypes. He knew then that online software rental would be the key to making a pot load of cash if the mugs...sorry customers had ot keep paying to use the software.

    Sadly Larry shot his bolt too early, everyone laughed at him and 20 years later those same people are falling over themselves to pay AWS, Google and MS ( not Oracle! ) for cloud services.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Looks like Larry shot his bolt 20 years too early!

      A shame they Sunsetted those services...

    2. Barry Patterson

      Re: Looks like Larry shot his bolt 20 years too early!

      I take it you have not been subjected to the sales calls pushing Oracle Online then,,,

  11. 0laf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh FFS

    If users are able to self-serve this I can see a sudden realisation when we're paying thousands monthly to cover every user that has accidentally subscribed to Project 365 to open a Project file they were sent by a 3rd party.

    They'll be doing fucking loot boxes on 365 for enterprise next.

  12. mr_souter_Working

    I take any news of the impending death of on-prem apps with an unhealthily large pinch of salt

    there are a great deal of very, very large customers that require on-prem apps (large government departments all across the world). for assorted reasons (generally security and data protection) they simply cannot use public cloud services for everything.

    Those customers spend many billions with Microsoft annually - for both on-prem software, and cloud services.

    There is little chance that Microsoft will ever cut them loose, and lose that huge revenue source.

    perhaps in a few decades, the situation will change (although I seriously doubt it)

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Headmaster

    It is also possible for team members to edit tasks simultaneously.

    Madness. Can they be trusted to be realistic?

    Say after me. MS Project or any other Project management software does not manage projects.

    People manage projects. Project management software allows the team leaders or project manager to update the reporting based on realistic analysis of the progress and snags that have occurred.

    Useful for a large building project like a hospital or school or new shopping mall, maybe a housing estate.

    Not so good for a small team of programmers, or one single house build where the Project management software overhead is too high and a spreadsheet updated by one person might be better.

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