MICROSOFT HAS announced that it will start to smother earlier versions of its Office productivity suite as it pushes business customers towards the Office 365 paid model.
From 13 October 2020, perpetual licence products (basically Office with a year after it, like Office 2010, for example) will no longer have access to Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business unless they move.
This won't affect the man in the street too much, but for businesses who rely on these services, it means buying bulk subscriptions for the entire office and paying a monthly subscription fee.
After last week confirming that Office would join Windows in a bi-annual festival of updateness, it has now added the first concrete evidence that there will be no standalone Office products in the future.
13 October 2020 also happens to be the date that Office 2016, the most recent perpetual version reaches end of life. It doesn't take much to put the two facts together.
Although Microsoft has augmented Office with various whistles and bells over the years, the basic functionality of Word, Excel and Powerpoint has changed little and those products will serve many well for a long time to come, but for anyone who wants a full productivity suite, they will need to look elsewhere.
It brings Office 365 into line with rival offerings such as G-Suite from Google, which could see the whole thing backfire spectacularly, with companies taking the move as a signal to migrate, given that they have to pay either way.
The more disturbing issue at play is that this is another example of Microsoft foisting its post-Ballmer structure onto customers, sometimes at the expense of perfectly adequate existing functionality.
Only this month, Windows 7 and 8.1 were blocked from receiving updates on machines running Intel's Kaby Lake processors - a move that the company said was to ensure customers were getting the best possible experience, but in reality was entirely unnecessary, and potentially forces customers to fork out for either hardware or software much faster than was either needed or intended.
Microsoft-as-a-Service seems to be the Nadella way, and the big worry is that this announcement is the tip of the iceberg. How long before Excel becomes Office 365 exclusive too? µ
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