First they took a page out of the cable TV industry and obfuscated their business pricing such that it is impossible to compare products and pricing. In fact, there is a certification just to support Microsoft licensing and most businesses that don’t shop at Best Buy hire a consultant to advise and manage their relationship. Then they introduced an all online version of their flagship product (yes, Office makes more money than Windows). The revolutionary (meaning Google’s only been doing it for half-a-decade) online and installable Office 365 is subscription only and starts at $9.99 per month. Forever.
That takes care of soaking or eliminating people who just want to write a letter. What about the people who make it possible for small business to run efficiently and economically?
Recently they announced that they are eliminating the primary program most people who support their products but don’t wear a Microsoft shirt use. TechNet is a subscription that gives one or more copies of just about every product that anyone who doesn’t have thousands of users across multiple sites could need – “for evaluation purposes only, not for use in production environments.” Depending on the promotion du jour, I gladly paid $150-$350 per year for the privilege to use 5% of what they offered me. Unfortunately, too many people were getting TechNet and sharing or selling the individual license keys.
My primary business is supporting people who use 1-10 computers. They don’t make their money with their computer; but do have to use their computer to make money. When your client consists of an accountant and her receptionist/account manager/billing clerk; you get calls to do everything from buying a printer cable to establishing a new office. This includes setting up and optimizing their email, preparing a customized mailing, or converting the contents of their client’s database to simplified spreadsheet.
Those tasks require Outlook, Word, Excel, and possibly more Office programs. I feel no guilt using my TechNet versions of these applications because I am supporting an office that paid the highest price for their own copies. I’ll tell you a secret, Microsoft. I could also complete these tasks using apps from Google or Open Office. Those cost me and my client – nothing. More significantly, they earn you nothing.
Microsoft; for every IT professional who gives you thousands of dollars a year to keep a certificate on their wall, there’s 5 or 10 or dozens more who support and promote your retail products. You just turned them into Google and Linux salespeople. Retail may not be the goose that lays golden eggs, but it is a cash cow that gives good milk year-after-year. When the time comes that all your money is from enterprise, it’s HP and Dell that tells them what to buy. Remember, they also sell tablets and laptops as well as management services. If you continue encroaching on their hardware and support businesses; they too may become Linux salespeople.
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