It looks as though Microsoft is more than just dabbling with the idea of offering a subscription-based version of Microsoft Office. According to CNet in the next few days they will launch a limited Beta program of a project codenamed Albany. With it you would agree to pay a subscription that includes Microsoft Office Home and Student as well as the OneCare security suite. That way when new versions of the software are released you’ll automatically be eligible for the upgrade!
It sounds great to me, but there seem to be a few skeptics out there. Some aren’t too fond of the idea that if you don’t pay your dues the software will come to a screeching halt. That’s understandable, but it all boils down to what price Microsoft will consider fair for the software suite.
I’m not sure what price would be within my comfort zone. Five dollars a month seems like a sweet spot, but I’m guessing that will be on the low end for Microsoft. The list price for Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 is $150, but some bargain hunting will reveal prices closer to $120. At just $5 per month that would take Microsoft two years to recoup the cost, and then there’s also OneCare that I haven’t accounted for in that pricing.
My guess is that Microsoft will charge between $5 and $10 per month for the entire suite. If this turns out to be successful it’s possible that they will adopt a similar subscription plan for Windows, but it may not be worth it if there are large gaps between the releases like there was for XP and Vista.
Thanks to Omar for the tip!