Last weekend I was flipping through the satellite channels and quite by chance came across a program on CNBC Africa on computers.
They were talking about Microsoft’s introduction of a scheme whereby users could get the latest MS Office suite on a pay-as-you-go basis instead of having to shell out a big wad of cash upfront. The idea is that you buy a starter pack with the software on it for about R200 from the person you get your computer from.
You can then use the software for six months after which you will have to buy vouchers to continue using the full functionality of the suite. Additional vouchers will cost a bit under R200 so it will cost you about R800 a year, after the first six months, to continue using it.
The package on offer is Office Professional 2007, which includes Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, Accounting Express, and Outlook with a Business Contact Manager.
It’s a lot of software and, in the light of the fact that the suite could cost you R6000 if you were to buy it outright, I reckon that R800 a year is a quite a bargain. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll keep it for long enough to cost you more than buying it outright would have.
So far the practice has been for users to buy software programs and install them on our computers but I think we are more towards a situation where software will be rented and, most likely, accessed over the Internet.
There are several examples of Internet-based office suites already available but they rely on the user having a fast but cheap Internet connection. We clearly don’t have such things in this country and so Microsoft has kindly come up with pay as you go for us.
One article mentioned that pay as you go had been quietly launched and I have since found that quiet is really the operative word. I could find no information on the product on Microsoft South Africa’s own website and nothing on the websites of retailers like Makro and Incredible Connection, or even by phoning IC’s local branch.
With the help of an operative at Microsoft’s call centre (0860 2255 67), I did find a web page on the company’s American site with some information. Calls to Microsoft eventually (just before deadline) revealed that Pay As You Go is only available to buyers of new computers, which is a great pity as far as I’m concerned.
At least it will be available the next time you get a new computer and, in the meantime, if lacking an office suite, you could try the free Open Office available at www.openoffice.org.
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