Thursday, April 11, 2013

Have you been Micensed by Microsoft?

Microsoft have been running a campaign with the catchy term 'scroogle'. In essence when using Google products Google is scanning your data and Microsoft wants people to know. Google's interest is in harvesting your data for the purpose of advertising. We don't know what else they'll do with the data, who they will sell it to, how it gets used, but let's just keep it to scanning or recording the information which goes through their services for the purpose of bringing you more relevant advertising.

Microsoft supposedly doesn't do this, but it really is hard to tell. They own the Bing search engine and they'd record data relevant to searches so who knows how they are using that data. But the one direction which I'm not a fan of is the progressive push to get people to a yearly (or even monthly) licence to use Microsoft's software and services. Progressively Microsoft are reducing what it offers with packaged product and making recurring licensing appear more cost effective. I say 'appear' because remember the ongoing revenue for Microsoft only stops when you decide to stop paying and if you do, you have nothing. With a full packaged product you've purchased the software and you can continue to use it for years to come. There are a huge number of people still using Office 2003. That's ten years of value out of their software for software that still does what they want it to do today. Whereas the recurring licensing model appears to be largely designed to cost around the equivalent of two years of of use at which stage you could have paid for the full packaged product. That means after two years you're now paying more for your software.

If addition we recently saw how Microsoft locked Microsoft Office 2013 full packaged product to a single computer. Previously with full packaged product you could move the software to a new computer. Microsoft have relented based on customer feedback and you can again transfer the software. But what hasn't been mentioned is that in the past you could run the software on two computers. Your main computer and a second computer such as a portable computer. That means you effectively had licensed two copies that could be used on two machines. Now that option appears to have gone effectively doubling the cost of software for some people.

Microsoft wants you to move to the recurring licensing model as it means ongoing, recurring, and largely dependable income for Microsoft. But is it in your best interests. If the software that Microsoft releases bring you no useful additional functionality and in addition costs you considerable time and money adjusting your work or systems for no gain, it makes more sense to stay with what you have until a new version of software gives you additional functionality and value.

If Microsoft calls Google's approach for their business scroogling, then Google could easily call Microsoft's approach to doing business Micensing. To me the real irony is neither business seems to really focus on the customer and to me that means there will be no customer loyalty for either Google or Microsoft. As soon as a Google customer finds a way to achieve what they want without being scroogled they'll be off. As soon as a Microsoft customer can find a way to achieve what they want without being tied into recurring fees they'll be off. Even as I write this blog post I've been working on how to replace scripts I've written which use Outlook so that I'm no longer locked into Microsoft software. I use and prefer Microsoft software, but I don't want to be locked into their ongoing recurring fees model and end up with no other choice.

Make sure when you are reviewing using Google's or Microsoft's software or services you consider how these companies make their money as that is what they focus on. What you need to focus on is your needs and what is good for you and your business, now and in the future.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

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