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Office 15 on Windows on ARM Completely Free? Probably Not

By - Source: Computerworld | B 7 comments

Full versions of Office 15 apps for Windows On ARM will probably not be free, but instead follow Office Starter 2010's lead.

After Microsoft released its detailed description of Windows on ARM (WOA) last week, there has been some speculation as to the pre-installed Office 15 apps. Essentially, will they be free, or will they each have their own pricetag, or will users be required to purchase the entire Office 15 suite?

As previously reported, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division, said that the Metro-styled Office 15 apps -- Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint -- will be full-fledged desktop versions that are "significantly architected" for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption.

"They're claiming it's a full version of Office, but that it's a 'consumer version,'" said Michael Silver of Gartner, who was briefed by Microsoft. "But we're not sure what that means." Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC who was also briefed by Microsoft last week, added that there will be some level of capability to those Office apps, "but what we don't know is who pays for it."

Consumers who have purchased a Windows 7-based desktop or laptop within the last few years have likely received Microsoft Office Starter 2010 pre-installed. Underneath this ad-supported bare-bones edition lies the full version of Office 2010, tucked away on a special partition on the hard drive. Upon launching Office Starter 2010, users are greeted with a popup asking to activate Office 2010 if purchased, to go online an purchase Office 2010, or to use Office Starter 2010.

That said, this will probably be the same scenario with both Windows 8 and Windows on ARM: Office 15 will be pre-installed with limited functionality until the users purchase the full suite and enters the activation code. This is of course just an assumption, but one based on Microsoft's current distribution method with Windows 7 machines. Keep in mind that Windows on ARM won't be available commercially, but will come installed on ARM-based devices only.

Silver said he asked Microsoft directly if the Office 15 apps in WOA represented Starter versions. The Redmond company replied no, insisting that they were full versions. Silver then pointed out that even Microsoft's denial gives it room to call the apps something other than "Starter" while still using the ad-supported bare-bones model.

"What they wouldn't say is how they're going to monetize it," Silver added.

As many other analysts have pointed out, a full version of Office 2015 will likely never be free... at least, not in the immediate future. "Office is too important a product," said Paul DeGroot, formerly an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, now a principal with Pica Communications. "Microsoft can't afford to give away that licensing revenue stream. They may do that at some point, but it's too early."

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  • -1 Hide
    lockhrt999 , February 15, 2012 8:20 AM
    And for this initiative we have one name to thank for, Google.
    Ironic but very true.
  • 2 Hide
    DSpider , February 15, 2012 8:34 AM
    ..have pointed out, a full version of Office 2015 will likely never be free...

    Office 2015?

    Really?
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , February 15, 2012 9:24 AM
    dspider..have pointed out, a full version of Office 2015 will likely never be free...Office 2015?Really?

    Maybe there will be an Office 2015, as well. Maybe "Office 2015" will fix everything introduced in "Office 15", much like Office 2010 fixed new features introduced in 2007, which I thought was slow. It could've been the fault of Operating System at the time, though...which was Windows Vista. I love Office 2010 on Windows 7, but again, I still hate the ribbon. Thank God for shortcuts!
  • -3 Hide
    digiex , February 15, 2012 11:25 AM
    Quote:
    I love Office 2010 on Windows 7


    Office 2010 is resource hungry and full of bugs. But i have to use it because my wife like so much to use it's bug ridden resource hungry Word Art.
  • 3 Hide
    mcd023 , February 15, 2012 12:08 PM
    digiexOffice 2010 is resource hungry and full of bugs. But i have to use it because my wife like so much to use it's bug ridden resource hungry Word Art.


    I've never had any problems with it; it works fine and I love it.

    As a side note, MS did include office mobile for free on the WP7, so probably something similar for the tablets, I presume. They let you create and edit Word, OneNote, PPT, and excel files on sharepoint, windows live, and can use lync.
  • 2 Hide
    waethorn , February 15, 2012 1:21 PM
    Almost every version of Windows CE for mobile devices included Office, and they all ran on ARM.
  • 1 Hide
    PreferLinux , February 15, 2012 6:27 PM
    mcd023I've never had any problems with it; it works fine and I love it.

    I assume you've never tried to select objects using the select objects (marquee select) tool with a *.docx file then? Because it doesn't work unless it is an old format file, which is very annoying when you have a couple of dozen small objects in a small space. 2007 was fine for this, by the way.