Re: Is this even controversial?
I wouldn't call the concept a ripoff as a flat statement. Certainly many PAYG services work out to be more expensive but simply being more expensive doesn't mean it's a ripoff.
Many, many companies prefer the ability to deploy stuff without the huge upfront costs. For some companies, PAYG can mean the difference between updating all your staff (say to the new version of Office) in one hit and upgrading in a tick-tock fashion. I know plenty of clients who have done this in the past, with the result being that they have Vista, 7 and 8 PCs running Office 2007, 2010 and 2013. It all works but they would certainly prefer standardisation.
Of course, that's just one, specific, scenario but my point is that the concept itself is not, ipso facto, a ripoff. For one thing, it can free up capital, which for some businesses can be far more important than TCO.
This can be especially true of new businesses who need a full IT environment but have far better ways to spend those piles of cash than servers and licenses. If they couldn't use a PAYG system then they may simply not have the money to deploy the same features in house and thus may end up with a system that doesn't meet their needs as well.
From the other direction, utilising PAYG services may enable a (generally small) company to benefit from functionality that they could not deploy themselves and this may result in greater efficiency or profitability.
Yes, PAYG/subscription is usually more expensive in the long (or even medium) term but this fact does not automatically make all such services 'ripoffs'.
If you see my history of comments I am not fan of "because cloud" (perfectly stated, Trevor) but I am a fan of deploying the best solution for a given client and a solution you can afford to deploy pretty much always beats a solution you cannot afford to deploy.