CNN is supposed to be a professional news outlet. But even the editors and writers at CNN’s Fortune desk are no match for Microsoft’s’ Stupid-Ray Gun.

This piece is virtually giddy about the fact that the next version of Microsoft Office will be just like Google Office. Free and on line .

Now, think about that for five seconds and imagine yourself to be a writer for CNN. Do you actually believe that Microsoft Office is going to be available for free? Like, me, Greg Laden, can just decide “Oh, I’ve had enough of Google Docs … I’m going to switch to the online version of Microsoft Office instead. It’s free!!!” … and then I sign up for an account and I have this on line free service and no money has changed hands?

If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge over some swamp land in Florida that comes with it’s own Nigerian Bank account that I’d love to sell you.


From the CNN piece, which was obviously either written by a moron or a paid Microsoft consultant:

Get this: Microsoft – the king of paid software – will announce today that it is going to give a version of Office away for free online. Both the online and desktop versions are scheduled to arrive in the first half of next year. Yes, you read that right. The latest version of its ubiquitous productivity software, dubbed Office 2010, will come as both a piece of software you can buy for your computer, and as a service you can access in your browser.
source

A little unclear on the concept of making it clear.

So, to make it clear: If you PURCHASE (with money) Microsoft Office, then you will under certain conditions be allowed to use a scaled down version of a subset of Office features in a browser.

Gee, I wonder which browser this wonderful new on line service will be compatible with? I wonder which browser it will work with? (Answer: IE and Firefox, respectively.) [update: The most recent information from M$ says that their software will "support" Firefox and Safari as well as IE. Expect .... expected features.]

There are some details here.

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBbob
    July 13, 2009

    Get this: Microsoft – the king of paid software – will announce today that it is going to give a version of Office away for free online.

    You misinterpreted, Greg…

    “going to give a version… that means ONE copy. They will sell all the others, of course.

    Whatsamatta? you don’t speak marketing-ese?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 13, 2009

    I definitely have not misinterpreted. “Going to give a version of Office away for free on line” means I get something for free. “Pay us for the software and we have a semi-gutted on line version that you then have, because you paid us, the right to use” means I pay for something!

    The “Its a free version” is like saying that the toilet paper in an expensive hotel room’s bathroom is free. It isn’t. A guy off the street can’t go into the “L’Hotel Chique” and use the toilet paper for free. He’s gotta buy the room first.

    (I know, you’re snarking me, but still..)

  3. #3 Jason Thibeault
    July 13, 2009

    This sounds almost identical to the first “cloud Office” they were saying they’d build for 2007. Why all of a sudden all the marketing? Gee, could it be because people are getting Google Docs for free, so they need to confuse the market and make it seem as though they’re offering something for free as well? Anything short of outright libel to sell the product.

    (And in the Dr. DOS days, libel worked too — claiming that it was incompatible with Windows on attempting to load it from within the Dr. DOS environment, even though it was perfectly compatible.)

  4. #4 Bill James
    July 13, 2009

    Microsoft is starting to read like a Herters catalog.

  5. #5 Bob
    July 13, 2009

    Not saying they’ll never charge, but check out http://workspace.office.live.com/.

    From the Press Release:

    How will people receive Office Web applications?

    Capossela: We will deliver Office Web applications to consumers through Office Live, which is a consumer service with both ad-funded and subscription offerings. For business customers, we will offer Office Web applications as a hosted subscription service and through existing volume licensing agreements.

    So if you don’t mind getting a windows live account and sitting through the ads, it looks like the very basic version will be free. Now this will certainly not have all of the features of Word/Access/Excel/Powerpoint. I would not expect to have a large database and use mailmerge with word, for example. They are very shy about telling you which features are free and which are for pay.

    But will it be enough of office so you can do most of the basics, probably so.

    Google’s servers are probably much more reliable than MS’s. Gmail/GoogleDocs outages seem to be far fewer than Hotmail and other MS services.

    And I would expect them to slowly ratchet down the free parts over time to make people subscribe.

  6. #6 Agencja Reklamowa
    July 14, 2009

    Ohh come on. We can’t blame Microsoft for earning money from software. Customers would like to see all for free, give me all for free. The only reason we can blame MS is that they take money for poor software. Apple is great example, they take a lot of money for their stuff but it’s good quality make people buy it and I don’t see the whine for Apple to take money for their soft, more money then MS. Why? Because they make good soft. Come back to reality and stop criticize companies because they want money for their soft. Adobe come on give us photoshop and all your software for free!!!!!!

  7. #7 NewEnglandBob
    July 14, 2009

    Greg, I am with you all the way. I despise Microsoft, their products, their marketing posture and their anti-competitive practices. (I do despise Adobe products even more).

  8. #8 Dunc
    July 14, 2009

    “Professional news outlet” = clearing house for press releases. It’s cheaper than journalism.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2009

    Agencja: at the moment, we’re not really complaining that they charge for their software. We’re complaining that they are touting a “free product” which is not free. Or, that CNN is doing bad reporting. Or both.

  10. #10 jj
    July 14, 2009

    I am in no way understanding why you feel this isn’t free. You do not have to purchase the hard copy of Office 2010 to get the free version. Web version = Free, hardcopy = $$. To use the web version, from the link below,

    Thankfully, the apps, which include Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, will be available to anyone with a Live account, and judging by the (lone) screenshot above, will aim to compete directly, feature-wise, with other companies’ offerings

    Note that MS Live is a free service.
    The major point to this is, corporations will not be using cloud computing for their office apps, so that part of the market is unaffected. Those who are home users, will either use the web version if they are OK with cloud based apps, or they will purchase a hard copy. Those who prefer to steal their software (like some of us) will be more inclined to just use the web version. I’d imagine that OEM’s will still include either the standard version or a trial version on new PC’s. So they won’t loose much.

    http://gizmodo.com/5313285/microsoft-office-2010-web-apps-will-be-free-testing-starts-today

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2009

    Well, OK, then, maybe it will be free. Forgive me for not trusting Microsoft.

    I still question the basic premise: How many features will there be? It “word” for instance more like actual “word” or “wordpad”?

    And all those other questions.

    The ambiguity that has existed since October’s announcement as to how this will be delivered may itself have been a bit of a ploy to see what they needed to do.

  12. #12 jj
    July 14, 2009

    How many features will there be?

    I bet it’s going to be fairly bare-bones, but according to Gizmodo (previous link) it should compete feature-wise with what’s out there, mainly Google docs, not comparing to full version (Do note that Gizmodo is often speculative about these things). Also, IMO, cloud apps are not for everyone, there are issues of connectivity and security, so many peeps will stay with the local install.
    And as mentioned, corporations will stay with local installs, that coupled with the education sector and parts of OEM, make a very large part of their market share. Then they’ll just throw adds on the could apps, and still get their $$.
    This is the same reason why MS is not very scared of OS X, Linux, BSD and the like, they won’t make it to most corporate end users terminals. It’s all in the Volume Licensing for them

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