Microsoft twists the meaning of FREE again
Office for iPad unlike many cloud solutions that are actually FREE and full featured is crippled in some key ways.
As a loyal Windows and Office purchaser since 1.0 I am not a freeloader. Just letting people know it is FREEMIUM not Free, so if they see competing FREE software (of which there are many in the Cloud Office space) they know they are not comparing Apples and Oranges.
But I expect FreeWare, Jr, Software, Limited Feature or Freemium to be labeled correctly by a big company like MS – surely they have lawyers who should be tolling them misrepresentation is risky with pockets as deep as theirs.
Yes premium features will be the Gotcha.
The history of Windows and Windows server is littered with free crippled things that once you get serious you realize you need a better license. And then MS or people say “You did not expect us to give away everything?”. Actually if you say something is FREE for a certain class of customer, or in certain usage situation it should be feature complete, or it’s not FREE. Its crippled.
I used free Windows Server for a personal project. I bought the awesome O’Reilly Windows Server Cookbook on scripting, and none of the scripts would run. Once I asked around and Googled I found out it was because they removed many core ADSI scripting objects in the free server.
What Others Have to Say Besides Me to Inform Your Choice
Plenty of others have wrote well about what you get for FREE and what will cost you, here are some of my favorite articles:
- Here is a great break down and review of what is free and what is not @
One of the most insightful articles on this. MS-Office free wont’ even let you create or switch documents from portrait to landscape so WOW it is pretty crippled. I never heard of such a fundamental limitation in any level of product before this.
- A fairly thorough review is here @
[Note: I will be updating this list of links frequently as new insightful reviews hit the web].
Even the Paid Stuff From Microsoft is Incomplete These Days
I paid for an Office 365 2 years ago, since I paid I expectd my Word and Excel to be feature complete. I expected the Office 365 I paid for to be fully internationalized since my children who use that PC sometimes are bilingual like my children. I did not expect to have to pay more to type text into my Office 365. Particularly since the Japanese IME is built into Window and works with Wordpad, Google Docs, Zoho, etc. its an example of me paying for software worse than the FREE equivalents. And not even good warnings – I had to Google to see why Japanese input was broken in my paid Office 365 – no error messages or warning when I tried to use it in Office 365.
Sometimes the FREE thing is the most expensive
The Japanese say “sometimes a FREE thing is the most expensive”. I think if you want certain features the competitors will always be cheaper and better, easier to use and the features more robust when every level of user can access them. Less people pay premium fees or for Feature packs so less testing and believe it or not MS has less interest in fixing FREE stuff, even when Premium or Feature Pack customers are involved.
Microsoft is lying when labeling FREEMIUM stuff as FREE – gaining the prestige from naive customers who use other excellent FREE products without being extorted to upgrade for basic functionality.
Blame the Consumer – How dare they expect FREE stuff from us?
Those who who would call me a complainer because I want something for FREE or want advanced capability is not fair. I buy a lot of software (I do not pirate), and have bought a lot of Microsoft and other software. Quite often the things I get for FREE turn out so useful I buy them out of gratitude, not because I am extorted to do so. XMind has a very capable free version as does ClipMate. I bought them because the FREE ones are so useful I felt gratitude towards the developer – not because an essential feature was hidden behind a “pay wall”.
A lot of the Must Have Products for Windows Power Users @ http://techsuperheroes.com/?p=278 I love have FREE versions. Yet in many cases after falling in love with the FREE versions I upgraded to paid ones out of gratitude not to get any features.
There are FREE and cheap Cloud and App and Desktop Offices out there
I use quite a few with great success:
- Google Apps in the cloud.
- Zoho.com has an amazing suite of Office products that run in the browser/cloud – the free version is very capable.
- On the desktop Libre Office and Open Office. I use a paid Open Office variation called Neo Office that cost me $10 on the Mac.
- on the iPad Pages and Numbers and KeyNote [very different UI from Office but fairly easy and powerful]. KeyNote is much better than the free PowerPoint for iPad.
- Docs to Go on iPad and Android.
Bottom line: If you are not trying some great new Office software by Microsoft competitors you are missing a treat – many have better UIs and a much cheaper TCO (total cost of ownership). Paying for and updating MS software over the years can get expensive.
But But But they don’t do everything MS-Office does
That is the trap I fell into. These days I use MS-Office when I need a high end feature, and many other things that all write MS-Office files fine when I don’t need these features. I used ot passionaetly argue the “party line” with others – if you use a lesser product and they don’t have a edge case or high end feature you need well you are doomed with your choice.
They could have easily answered – “well THAT document I will use MS-Office for and keep most other simpler documents in easier FREE or cheaper products” Many of these products are easier, friendlier and better designed competitors. And very low total cost of ownership or FREE.
Sometimes you need a hammer, not a sledgehammer, electric impact hammer, or jackhammer. Using a Swiss Army knife when you need just one of it’s features is often using an inferior tool (the stand alone tools have better handles than on a Swiss Army knife). But MS changes the conversation “that way” when people think of using a competitor because they fear that scenario. I maintain a couple hundred documents ad some core business documents with FREE and Cheap Office software. And a few dozen with MS-Office when I need the high end features – SmartArt (great feature), Label Sheet printing, book document features (indexes, TOCS, references). I use other easier friendlier tools when I don’t need all that and save to Word if others need to see it.
And I don’t get “locked in” to knowing only Microsoft products, and have blinders on about the great products others are inventing. I discover some delightful friendlier, easier Office software. After some initial learning curve I found my productivity higher due to innovation and focus on ease of use many of these have.
MS could offer FREE for past office customers
They have tons of past and current customers money to do so
There are companies that offer FREE software subsidized by their paid software, and MS has plenty of budget to do that. They paid several billion for Skype and it is FREE and labelled as such. And is hardly crippled. One only pays to contact landlines. No features are missing – I can type non-English languages in the chat, etc. so they know how to offer TRULY FREE STUFF AND DO.
I would be fine if they labelled it as Freemium.
Free means FREE. Freemium is a correct designation for what they offer. The commercial Office 365 is incomplete and crippled as sold. Bilingual people with non-Latin alphabets are not mutants. I should have to pay again on top of my paid Offie 365 level for a “feature pack” unless it is labelled as such – i.e. Office 365 Jr, Office 365 Gold-Silver-Platinum, etc.
A company with double digit billions in cash can give away a premium office to keep us locked into their file formats and because it inter-operates well with other products they sell or just as advertising to keep mind share, or “dumping” to hurt Cloud upstarts like Google and the like.
FREE does not equal Freemium
I paid a fortune for several versions of Office and Windows and we collectively contributed a lot to these profits.
It should be labelled as Office Jr, Office Gold-Silver-Platinum
Otherwise running a huge “we are FREE” campaign is disingenuous.
Some of us paid a lot for every Office since 1.0 suddenly trying to shame us as cheap skates is not OK. And we deserve better features than iPad users trying Office with no history of buying it before.
Those of us who bought many offices deserve a better office than the newbies – be it free service packs, etc. or you are treating new customers better than loyal ones. I think customers with prior versions of Office (heck even current versions on Windows) don’t deserve the same “feature paywall” everyone trying iPad Office FREE has to deal with.