Office 2007 rocks – except for the packaging strategy

Tim Danton’s recent editorial in PC Pro has been picked up by Dennis Howlett (AccMan Pro) and Matt Aslett (Computer Business). Interestingly both chose to focus on Microsoft preventing publishers from including open source software on the same CD/DVD as the Office 2007 Beta.

The bit that interested me was Tim’s assertion that the open source movement will remain a ghetto because, despite its assertions to the contrary, it wants to. He cites The GIMP as an example that is designed to scare off newcomers and imagines open source enthusiasts responding “but that’s the point”. Open source is far from being an acceptable alternative for most consumers and businesses. It is simply far too much like hard work compared to commercial alternatives from Microsoft and others.

The new Office 2007 rocks and my main criticism would be the bundling structure. The bundle that I need is Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Brilliant, that bundle exists and only costs $149. A reasonable price for software that we will use every single day. Except that it’s the Home and Student edition so I imagine we would be breaching the licence terms to use it in a business.

The standard edition is $399 and doesn’t include OneNote, but does Outlook which might be OK for big enterprises but is useless for small businesses. The small business and professional editions get even more expensive and bundle even more programs that are even less useful (Access and Business Contact Manager). You have to go to the ultimate edition at $679 before OneNote is included.

That means we need to pay $399 for software that we won’t use and then an additional $99 to get OneNote. That can’t be right. I’m not even clear if small businesses can’t use the Home and Student edition, as I can’t find an explanation of the licence terms.

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