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Hello, is that what you call a bargain?

About a week ago, and with a good amount of fanfare, Microsoft released Office 365.

There are some nice new touches, such as the inclusion of Microsoft’s cloud-based storage app, called OneDrive, but the really big news is you can now use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the rest of the Office apps on your tablet, as well as on a PC. That means Office has finally come to the iPad. It’s only taken four years, but all is now forgiven because Microsoft is offering all this for the low, low price of $6.99 a month.

Er, wait a minute? That’s not a bargain.

Think about it this way. I’ve bought Office upgrades twice in the last 11 years, both times for $149. That means I’ve paid, on average, $27 a year since 2003. But now, Microsoft wants me to pay $69.99 a year, forever. Keep in mind, this is the starter plan. Start adding multiple PCs and tablets to the mix and the price jumps to $99.99.

Why would they do this? Well that’s obvious. Office is a major revenue stream for Microsoft, but no one really needs to upgrade much anymore, since word processing and spreadsheets technology hasn’t really advanced much since 1990. That could be hurting revenue.
So, Microsoft took a page out of Adobe’s handbook. Adobe popularized the idea of charging a monthly usage fee for its programs. You can now “rent” Photoshop for only $20 a month, instead of having to pay $600 for the software.

That makes sense for Abode, especially considering the advanced image editing features (and price) of a program like Photoshop. But Office? That is just silly, especially in light of the competition. I’ve been using Apple’s Pages App on my tablet. Is it is as good or interconnected as Word? No, but it does that same basic thing, and I can save my work in Word format, so portability isn’t an issue.

But the best part is that in four years, I’ve never been charged for an upgrade, and Apple only charged me $9.99 for Pages, once.