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Microsoft Office Cannot Evolve, Monoculture Eroded

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cash cow

Summary: Office cannot sustain its dominance in a Web-dominated era when devices mostly run Android/Linux

THERE was some amazing news just before this weekend. Microsoft did not handle something as basic as renewing certificates, so “secure Azure Storage goes down WORLDWIDE,” as The Register put it:

The problems were first reported by Microsoft on Friday at 12:44pm Pacific Time on the Windows Azure Service Dashboard. An update at 1:30pm identified a problem with SSL transactions.

And Microsoft actually tries to convince businesses to rely on Microsoft for Fog Computing. Even Windows users — not just GNU/Linux users — won’t want to to rely on that. Services depend on Azure Storage as a sort of file system.

Michael Larabel spread a seemingly false rumour about Microsoft Office (native, not online) coming to GNU/Linux. I have been chatting with him over the years and I consider him a highly reliable and well-informed guy, so his source was deceitful or badly informed. Either way, irrespective of whether or not he was misinformed by someone, here is an article which covers it: ‘Case in point? Oh, it’s a juicy one: “Microsoft is having a ‘meaningful look’ at a full Linux port of Office thanks to Linux showing signs of commercial viability on the desktop,” in the words of Phoronix writer Michael Larabel, who claimed to have it on good (but unnamed) authority.’

The matter of fact is, the Office cash cow is having problems and Microsoft struggles to adapt and keep the format lock-in/monoculture [1, 2, 3, 4]. The following is definitely not the way to rescue Office:

When quizzed as to whether a Microsoft Office 2013 licence can be transferred to another machine, Microsoft told The INQUIRER, “[Microsoft] Office 2013 is a single device license”, adding that those wanting to use Microsoft Office across multiple devices will “have to purchase [Microsoft] Office 365 Home Premium” as well, which allows users to share Microsoft Office with up to five PCs, Macs or mobile devices.

We probed further and asked what will happen in the event that the original PC carrying the single Microsoft Office 2013 licence is destroyed, lost or stolen. Will Microsoft allow the original licence to be transferred then?

This won’t go down so well and already we discover that Microsoft is rapidly being dumped by the Australian government, potentially costing hundreds of millions:

Australia has reduced the amount of money it pays for Microsoft products by AU$100m (£66m, $103m), according to the nation’s Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan.

Speaking yesterday at the Kickstart conference, Sheridan explained that consolidating contracts from 42 to one and working through a single reseller has enabled the savings. One contract now covers 300,000 devices and 260,000 people across 126 entities. Work has begun on negotiations for the successor contract with Redmond.

Microsoft is demoted by Australia owing to some prudent people who seek to decrease reliance, so we are quite sure that Microsoft is sending moles over there as we speak, based on past experience.

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  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    February 23, 2013 at 6:53 am


    It’s very clear where M$ is heading with these lock-downs. I think even the Australian government might be able to see it at this point. It would be a major breach of trust for them to go down that road, given where it heads. Perhaps they can be prosecuted for heading down that road, but it would be better to avoid the trap and the litigation in the first place. The obvious ways out are LibreOffice, Calligra or Google Docs, each with the help of the OpenDocument Format.

  2. NotZed said,

    February 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm


    I think you’re completely misreading the article about the Australian gov. They’re completely utterly and totally a 100% microsoft shop – and this new “one contract for the whole country” thing is even worse, as it will mean no deviation from the central authority.

    All they did was consolidate multiple contracts into one – and just like those late night advertisements for debt-consolidation services – such a move is just another scam for further lockin.

    100M are just the savings … which must be a tiny drop in the ocean compared to the annual flushing of money down the drain for the actual contracts.

    The article even states:

    “but said cutting costs further by using open source software is not his preferred tactic,”

    Which is political speak for: anything non-microsoft is absolutely not on the agenda, all we are doing is negotiating with microsoft and nobody else. And then he mentions some nonsense about byod – what a joke. Australia is still about where the world was 10 years ago – linux is used, but mostly in minor server roles or unix replacement. But in general, all desktops – microsoft, all email – microsoft, all intranet – microsoft, etc.

    What’s even more offensive is that just on those (presumably annual) savings alone, they could easily fund enough development of openoffice to fix any supposed problems, wine to run any of their legacy crap, and even a linux distribution to run it on. One that looked and worked like microsoft windows xp more than microsft windows 8 ever will …

    No wonder they’ve been having so many security problems of late.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    A proper cost analysis would have TCO include exit costs and cost of vendor lock-in. The lock-in in the new office software brings those costs to new extremes. What the Australian government is trying to do is dig a deeper hole than has ever been dug before. The quote, “but said cutting costs further by using open source software is not his preferred tactic,” shows they are well aware of that. Sadly, that statement puts them in a worse bargaining position. And even if Australia were able to push acquisition costs to near zero by threatening a credible open source strategy, the ongoing maintenance burden of M$ software coupled with the high exit cost, still make it a losing proposition.

    If they throw more money into the newer, deeper, M$ money pit, it is because a rat or two is selling out their country there.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    NotZed, thanks for the correction.

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