Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student Edition Sale may not be as Magnanimous as we First Thought (but it’s Great anyway)

OfficeBrand_compare_2 The six thousand five hundred naira sale of Microsoft Office 2007 Home Edition I blogged about last month is on. For those who missed the post, I wrote that for a period of 6 weeks, Microsoft would be selling the Home and Student Edition of their popular productivity suite at significantly reduced rates in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. This edition has Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote and allows you to install on up to 3 computers. I suppose three of you could band together and split the cost and install on your computers. You can then draw lots as to who gets to keep the media. At least I think you can do this, but you may have to check the end-user licensing documentation to see whether this kind of sharing is allowed.

The sale should have kicked off officially today, but was already available at some shops as early as last Friday. I picked up mine at Park n Shop.

I had applauded Microsoft’s magnanimity for this offer which makes the software temptingly cheap. It is a good deal and those with pirated versions of this and other versions can get legitimate very quickly. However, I have had to reassess my perspective of how generous Microsoft is being. Microsoft Office 2010 is currently in public beta (that means not finished yet but usable enough to test in real world scenarios) and is slated for release in the first half of 2010. So on the eve of the release of the next version of Office, Microsoft is conducting a fire sale of the old version. This is basically a case of the old practice of trying to get as much cash out of a dying horse before sending it off to the knackers for glue (and make a little more money from the glue too).

So, while the price is great, if you are at all interested in Office 2010 and whatever new and useful features it may have, you may want to skip buying this year’s model and wait on the next one. I was going to list some of the cool features that are coming in that version, but TechRepublic has a great list of features so you can look them up there. It is nearly guaranteed that you will be paying a lot more for that version of Office when it comes out than what this one is going for right now. Mind you, we all throng the shops looking for rock bottom sale prices for shoes, clothes and other stuff (Burlington Coat Factory, Primark, and the old Oshodi Oke anyone?) so I am not suggesting that Microsoft is being insidious in what they are offering. I’m just saying this might not quite be as charitable as it first appeared to be.

Now if you are like me and like technology, you can actually download the Office 2010 beta and use it until October, 2010 according to the Microsoft website. In addition, after the beta expires you can download the trial version and use that for at least another 3 months. In short you can use the beta and trial versions of Office 2010 for about a year or so before actually having so shell out money for it. However note that beta software is unfinished software. It won’t always work right. It will have problems – some of which will affect your documents. So you shouldn’t commit important documents to it. Don’t run you business on it. You could end up crying and finding out that you can’t sue Microsoft for it.

The bottom line is that the deal Microsoft is offering right now is pretty cool, however there are other options available, and a better product coming down the line from Microsoft themselves.

Now that I think about it, I wonder whether Park n Shop will give me a refund.