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posted by n1 on Friday November 07 2014, @08:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the desperate-times-at-redmond dept.

The NYT reports that Microsoft says that it will give away a comprehensive mobile edition of Office that will do most of the most essential things people normally do with the computer versions of the product. By making an unabridged version of Office available for free on mobile, Microsoft is betting it can get even more people to start using the software, without stealing sales from the PC and Mac versions of the product, where it still makes truckloads of money. "We'd like to dramatically increase the number of people trying Office," says John Case, corporate vice president of Office marketing at Microsoft. "This is about widening the funnel."

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  • (Score: 2) by Marneus68 on Friday November 07 2014, @08:44AM

    by Marneus68 (3572) on Friday November 07 2014, @08:44AM (#113759) Homepage

    Free as in Freemium of course.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by canopic jug on Friday November 07 2014, @09:15AM

      by canopic jug (3949) on Friday November 07 2014, @09:15AM (#113764) Journal

      So now they are aiming at lock-in on the actual files, regardless of format, via the cloud [] aka hosted services. By letting people on specific platforms use the suite free of charge, they appear to be hoping to become the gatekeepers for file access. It's the same old game from a one-trick pony: use an established monopoly in one area (file formats) to try to establish a new monopoly in a new market (file access).

      Office is one of two areas where M$ brings in money. The other is Windows, or more accurately a chokehold on the OEMs. But like that, it's not Office itself that brings in the money, it is the monopoly over the file formats. Every few years, M$ has introduced incompatibilities to force new purchases, but while it is the application suite that garners all the attention, it is the lock-in on the file formats that make those forced purchases possible. Recent editions of Office have not been crossing the threshold of market share sufficient to force further lock-in and new purchases. Gaining control over users' files might change that and allow M$ to squeeze users for access to the actual files themselves, some time in the future. Until then, it is enough to gain control over the files and thus prevent other companies from monetizing file access, like with their prolong failure in the console market against Nintendo and Sony.

      Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frojack on Friday November 07 2014, @09:27AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 07 2014, @09:27AM (#113766) Journal

        Exactly. I'm not jumping back into that cesspool. There are still leaches swimming in there. Even free isn't a good enough price.

        TFA says

        Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, said on Thursday that it would give away a comprehensive mobile edition of Office. The free software for iPads, iPhones and Android tablets will do most of the most essential things people normally do with the computer versions of the product.

        So its not exactly "Unabridged" as TFA says later.

        I'm a little worried about the ease with which everybody puts their documents in the hands of companies that don't even require a warrant to turn them over to governments. They willingly build back doors into the products they sell you, then turn around and assure you that your documents are safe in their hands.

        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 5, Informative) by SpallsHurgenson on Friday November 07 2014, @02:14PM

        by SpallsHurgenson (656) on Friday November 07 2014, @02:14PM (#113803)

        Microsoft is definitely leveraging the iPad Office apps to strengthen its hold over the industry. Office365 for the iPad seems aimed less at capturing customers on new platforms than it seems an attempt to drag them bag into Microsoft's desktop monopoly. Two examples of this that jumped out at me immediately:

        The iPad versions only support the proprietary DOCX/XLSX/PPTX file formats. It can open older formats, but you can only save in the new formats. Thus, any file edited with the Office365 apps on an iPad pushes you (and any correspondents) into the Office365 ecosystem.

        Even if you have no intent of using the online portion of the apps (email/cloud storage/sync/etc), you still must log-on to Microsoft's online service (.Live/.Hotmail/etc.) in order to edit files. If you do not log-in, then you can only use the apps to view the files in read-only mode.

        These are both artificial limitations imposed by the developer; there is no reason MS couldn't support other file formats or offline editing except to make it more difficult to transition out of the Office365 ecosystem once you have started using these apps. Fortunately, I think these tactics will backfire on MS this time; there are other, fuller-featured apps already available for the average consumer on the platform (not least of which is Apples own office suite) and the online integration will probably not play well with corporations that deal with sensitive material.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @09:05AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @09:05AM (#113761)

    That's funny; Microsoft could afford to charge real money for their Mac products, back in the day.

    • (Score: 1) by curunir_wolf on Friday November 07 2014, @03:05PM

      by curunir_wolf (4772) on Friday November 07 2014, @03:05PM (#113825)
      They still charge a high price for their OSX version, and they sell quite a bit of it. This move won't change that - it's about tablets and smart phones.
      I am a crackpot
  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Friday November 07 2014, @09:09AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 07 2014, @09:09AM (#113762) Journal

    I wonder if that won't backfire.

    Using office on a smartphone surely won't be a great experience, just because a smartphone is not exactly the best device for the task (I guess that's part of Microsoft's reasoning, that it won't eat from their revenue because it's too cumbersome for more than occasional use). So I can imagine that people will subconsciously connect Office with uncomfortable (of course rationally they'll know that this is because they use it on a phone, but the subconscious doesn't care about your rational thoughts). Which might hurt PC sales of Office in the long run.

    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by TK on Friday November 07 2014, @05:58PM

      by TK (2760) on Friday November 07 2014, @05:58PM (#113890)

      +1 interesting

      I can't imagine using Powerpoint or Office on a phone. Formatting would be a nightmare. Viewing documents would be fine, but my phone came with apps to do that for both.

      That being said, I would love a spreadsheet program for my phone. Creating anything complicated would be a major PITA, and probably not worth it, but the ability to calculate things on the fly with spreadsheets that were created earlier will be a huge draw to at least one person.

      The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Darren on Friday November 07 2014, @09:33AM

    by Darren (4786) on Friday November 07 2014, @09:33AM (#113768) Homepage

    Nobody pays for something without value. Open office, libre office, google docs, mac pages, croc docs, the list goes on and on but ultimately HTML web pages are universal and don't require special software beyond a browser, this trumps emailing documents around and installing weird giant software packages from scary foreign companies.

    Not really sure why companies and colleges and the government thinks MS is such hot shit. I genuinely see better interfaces, usability layouts, speed, function, and purpose to web projects due to faster evolution from high competition than I ever saw in the office suites.

    At any rate, the value of their flagship product has literally almost bottomed out and I could never see myself or anyone else paying for it when money is tight because it's just no longer essential or functional enough for what we need to get done.

    Web Designer -
    • (Score: 2) by Lagg on Friday November 07 2014, @01:44PM

      by Lagg (105) on Friday November 07 2014, @01:44PM (#113792) Homepage Journal

      Hell, even Scheme In A Grid has kicked Office's ass at least in the spreadsheet department. Which is pretty hilarious really. Not that I think SIAG is bad or anything but it's not quite the comparison one would expect.

      -- [] 🗿
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by aclarke on Friday November 07 2014, @12:32PM

    by aclarke (2049) on Friday November 07 2014, @12:32PM (#113784) Homepage

    I'm all for being slow to trust software companies after repeated offences. For example, it will be a long time before I trust Sony again. However, I'm willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here.

    Of course Microsoft is trying to lock people into their product. So is Google and any other for-profit company in this market. That's business. Libre/OpenOffice might be doing things differently, but then again the more I use OpenOffice the more I dislike it, to the point now where I would rather pay Microsoft $10/month than use OpenOffice for free.

    I've recently been re-evaluating Microsoft 365 vs Google Apps for a couple businesses and non-profits with which I'm associated. I've been coming around to the surprising decision of recommending Office 365. They're cost-competitive with Google, and in most ways I think their productivity tools are as good as or better than Google's. It also helps that in Canada, Microsoft provides free Office 365 subscriptions to non-profits, whereas Google does not (US-only).

    Microsoft used to be about leveraging Office to sell Windows, and vice versa. This is one of the areas where they were rightly criticized for abusing their monopoly position. This is the opposite of that: they're actively developing iOS versions that are actually ahead of the Windows Phone versions. Office documents can be opened well enough in Google Docs, OpenOffice, and other free tools, so although it's very unfortunate that the formats themselves aren't open (I see this as a genuine issue), for getting Real Work done in most organisations, I'm coming around for the first time in well over a decade to thinking Microsoft might actually be the best choice.

    I've subscribed to Office 365. I'm in my free month now, but I'll likely keep it.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by arashi no garou on Friday November 07 2014, @02:35PM

      by arashi no garou (2796) on Friday November 07 2014, @02:35PM (#113814)

      Libre/OpenOffice might be doing things differently, but then again the more I use OpenOffice the more I dislike it, to the point now where I would rather pay Microsoft $10/month than use OpenOffice for free.

      I'm not quite to that point yet, but then my heaviest Office use by far is at work where I'm not paying for it; rather, I'm being paid to use it. At home, I write in a text editor and calculate on a calculator. What little heavy lifting I need occasionally at home is handled nicely by LibreOffice on Windows, Mac OS, and GNU/Linux.

      I do think this is a positive move by Microsoft; it seems that they've been moving forward instead of standing still or going backwards, ever since they gave Ballmer the boot. It's a new company, and while I'm sure it will take time for them to completely turn around (if they ever really do) they are making great strides. It's difficult to take a company so mired in the past and the old way of doing things and push them into the present and future, but I think Nadella is off to a good start. I still don't trust them 100% with any aspect of my digital life but I like what I've seen of them this past year.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Friday November 07 2014, @02:58PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday November 07 2014, @02:58PM (#113821) Journal

      Really? You'd rather pay Microsoft for their service rather than use OpenOffice for free? I feel like a wormhole just opened to 2001 and your sentiment slurped through it to land in front of us. It's a very venerable, tired, and untrue meme that should have been retired a long time ago. If you're serious about publishing, you should use TeX or one of its variants. If you're composing an office memo, how is OpenOffice not up to the task on that? Same thing with a spreadsheet. Rare is the cat that needs pivot tables, even in Excel.

      As to cloud services, well, others here have said it better in terms of the security and privacy risks that attend that. I will add that even here in NYC with business-class internet the damn thing still does down at least every other week, so good luck trying to access your business info before a client meeting on those days if you use the cloud. Anyone who puts their mission-critical info in the hands of those cloud services should have their head examined.

      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bradley13 on Friday November 07 2014, @04:00PM

        by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 07 2014, @04:00PM (#113848) Homepage Journal

        I use OpenOffice/LibreOffice almost exclusively, but that's mostly stubbornness on my part. There are several catastrophic problems that bite me regularly.

        - Disappearing images in Impress []. Save the presentation, and watch random images disappear. Put those back, only to watch other images disappear. The behavior is semi-random, but it occurs quite frequently, and costs hours and hours of time. The bug I reference was filed in 2011, but the problem goes back at least to 2007. Unbelievable that such a severe problem remains unfixed so many years after it was first reported.

        - With Writer, as soon as you are working with documents that contain any sort of complex formatting, the problems are pretty much endless. People who say "use Latex" aren't being realisitic - Latex is not a serious word processing solution, it's a (manual) layout program.

        - Sharing documents with someone working in Microsoft Word, which is a fundamental requirement given how widespread Office is. Anything involving advanced formatting cannot be shared reliably. If the Office users insists on .docx format, even simple formatting gets thoroughly hosed.

        - I'm not a big spreadsheet user, but people who are tell me that Calc is utterly primitive compared to Excel.

        The sad truth is: neither OpenOffice nor LibreOffice is ready for prime time, and there is no indication that they ever will be...

        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
      • (Score: 2) by aclarke on Friday November 07 2014, @04:22PM

        by aclarke (2049) on Friday November 07 2014, @04:22PM (#113857) Homepage

        I'd rather pay Microsoft for Office because IT WORKS. The only thing I still use OpenOffice for is once a month to open up my invoice document and send an invoice. And that's really only because I'm too lazy to migrate it. I'm much more likely to use Google Apps with my coworkers because we all use them and like the workflow. The only Office application I use regularly is Excel because for real spreadsheet work it's vastly superior to Google Apps, Numbers, or OpenOffice.

        I'm not going to get into every way I dislike OpenOffice, but here are the two that pop up on the top of my head. It tells me I there's an update when I log in, but its way of doing updates is stuck some time in the last decade and I just can't be bothered any more. When I type a date or any sort of text it thinks it should be formatted in a certain way, it helpfully reformats it for me. If I write 2014-11-07 it's because I WANT 2014-11-07. I can turn this off, but having to do that for every document annoys the heck out of me and wastes my time. I know those aren't big deals, but considering the number of other free options, OpenOffice doesn't win out.

        Rant all you want about the cloud, but your ranting shows that you just don't understand what you're talking about. Microsoft Office 365 includes OneDrive, but you don't have to use it. If you DO use it, your files are synced locally so what's the problem? Microsoft provides online versions of Office with your subscription, but they also provide the old-fashioned download on your computer version. This means that you can work offline all you want, with the cloud options really only being features to enhance your productivity vs. OpenOffice which basically offers none of this for its free price tag.

        I work from home, and due to the nature of my job I pay for many of my own tools. I'm not a Microsoft apologist. I have many domains running on Google Apps, I'm typing this in Chrome on a MacBook Pro, and it's been years since I've given Microsoft any money personally, or any business professionally. For the differential in productivity and options that $10/month opens up for my family, it's an easy sell for me. I can put Office on all our family's computers, tablets, and phones, which gives us one more tool to choose from. It doesn't mean that Office is better for everything, but it gives me the option to use it in addition to the other tools I use. "Unlimited" online storage is a pretty nice perk too.

        Microsoft's latest products have been a vast departure from their status quo, and they have successfully made me notice and give them another chance. If you think this is a sentiment from 2001, you're the one who's actually not been paying attention. I haven't been living under a rock and choosing the same thing over and over, decade after decade. I am willing to re-evaluate options I'd previously discarded when the competitive landscape changes.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @09:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07 2014, @09:32PM (#113938) []
        This page was last modified 20:20:53, 2011-05-19

        Creating Pivot Tables
        Editing Pivot Tables
        Filtering Pivot Tables
        Updating Pivot Tables
        Selecting Pivot Table Output Ranges
        Deleting Pivot Tables

        If the lamebrains doing LibreOffice's and OpenOffice's web work didn't use (non-googleable) underscore characters in URLs, I'll bet I could find even older references.

        -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by meisterister on Friday November 07 2014, @11:08PM

        by meisterister (949) on Friday November 07 2014, @11:08PM (#113948) Journal

        I use OpenOffice exclusively. After getting used to it after the last few years, Office versions since 2007 are just unusable. I need exactly zero of the features that Office has to offer and only have a copy of Windows for games. In this way, I am an edge case but I believe that for 90% of all people, the problems with OpenOffice are of lesser or the same importance as the problems in Office. They are both stable, mature products for a stable, mature market.

        (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
        • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday November 08 2014, @01:18PM

          by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday November 08 2014, @01:18PM (#114026) Journal

          And I find that for the most part I use vi because its interface is so fluid and fast and seamless from coding that the gain in WYSIWYG formatting for memos and such is not worth the cost in speed and power. After all, for business use my written communication mostly happens in the form of email or IM. Other specialized applications where I need to pay attention to layout and how it's going to print, I use LyX (a TeX offshoot). Presentations? Impress. DB/Software architectures? UML editor. In the very rare case I need a word editor, openoffice is perfectly adequate. So these days I do shake my head at those who still, incredibly, claim they *need* MS Word. Or, really, any word processor. They seem to me either MS-funded PR flacks (their job is to spend all day trawling for forums like these to spread their FUD), ex-English majors, or prisoners of a state of mind.

          Since you mentioned games I'd say that between Steam and Wine and my console games I don't have that issue anymore, either. And if one particular title is not available through those channels, well, over the years one zombie FPS and military RTS rather blends into another, and often that game of yore remains as fun as the new, shiny. So it's not worth all the other cost, headache, and heartache of MS just for that.

          Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Wrong Turn Ahead on Friday November 07 2014, @08:57PM

    by Wrong Turn Ahead (3650) on Friday November 07 2014, @08:57PM (#113934)

    I've been around long enough to remember most of MSFT's transgressions against, well, everyone... I'm not falling for it and neither should you. They've burned any trust or good will they had and do not deserve any of your time or attention. Ignore them and don't promote their products. Remember, they're probably beating your device manufacturer over the head with bogus patent threats in order to collect unearned income (a cost that is transferred to consumers). I'd rather use a less-mature office suite than to voluntarily install any of their crap on my non-MS devices...

  • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Saturday November 08 2014, @02:10AM

    by cafebabe (894) on Saturday November 08 2014, @02:10AM (#113967) Journal

    "This is about widening the funnel."

    See Goatse [] [NSFW].