Let’s face it, Microsoft Office is one mighty expensive software package. Costing hundreds of dollars for each Office iteration, it makes upgrading to the latest MS Office a difficult and sometimes impossible task. Not everyone can afford paying hundreds of dollars every few years. Fortunately, Microsoft is attempting to make it easier for users to migrate to the latest and future versions of its highly popular productivity suite. Currently in private beta testing, Microsoft’s “Albany” program is a subscription based model of Office. Specifically, Albany bundles Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 (containing Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote), Office Live Workspaces, Windows Live OneCare (online virus and firewall service), Windows Live Mail, Messenger, and Photo Gallery all into one package with one single installer.
Unfortunately, details regarding the program are sparse; whether the subscription model will be monthly or annual remains unknown. Pricing is also unknown. Microsoft is quick to point out that the subscription-based model is not the “next” version of Office. Instead, its a new way of experiencing and purchasing Office. Interestingly, the company has announced that each subscription is valid for up to three computers, allowing families with multiple computers to share one single subscription.
“We’re breaking new ground by delivering Microsoft Office in combination with security and communication tools, plus ensuring our customers are on the cutting edge with the very latest versions. We found from our research that when you bring these categories together and keep them automatically updated, a subscription model makes a lot of sense.
At the same time, we are definitely not straying from our traditional software sales model. There will always be a significant number of users for whom purchasing a perpetual license to the latest version of Office is still the best choice. “Albany” just gives customers more choice and addresses the needs of those customers who value having the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Office.”