A few words on the whole subscription thing

There are a lot of people out there gnashing their teeth over the whole question of Microsoft’s push for subscription licensing, specifically Office licensing via Office 365.  Indeed, there is a yawning chasm opening up between those of us who see advantage in the subscription model and those who cling to the old licensing models.  While there are many arguments for and against the subscription model, and a lot of them well thought out, the heart of the discussion comes down to what you plan to do with your subscription license.

If you are just a home user (ie not a business user of any kind) then the subscription model probably doesn’t make sense for you.  Office Home and Student (or whatever the moniker is this week) is cheap enough to buy with any new computer.  And there are always the various “free”alternatives that work fine for lightweight use.  And most home users care not a whit about what version of Office they are using (if they care about using Office at all).

If you are a small business that is NOT interested in leveraging all of the Office 365 assets then, again, subscription licensing is probably not for you.  You probably want to stick to the OEM copies that come with your PC’s or look into traditional Microsoft Open Licensing.

I think the key to the whole subscription thing is to take a “macro” view and not just zero in on Office itself.  The assets that you get via Office 365 and the abilities that you get from the various Office 365 “bits” are what make the subscription model work and deliver value.  If you take the “micro” view and only focus on one part of the subscription, be it Office or Exchange or Lync, then you miss the whole point of the subscription model.  And that, I believe, is where a lot of people are getting hung up.

When Microsoft first started pushing the subscription model I was also of the opinion that it was just a “money grab” by our friends in Redmond.  But as they polished things up, and as we (itgroove) dug deeper into the offerings, I started to see the possibilities offered by the combined offering.  And while I will concede that the cost of working with the subscription model may end up being slightly higher, year over year, than the traditional model of “buying software”, I also strongly contend that there are way more tools (and possibilities) made available to you, the end user, by this model.

As I have said in other posts, the real value in all of this is in getting your hands on tools that you may not have been able to afford in the past.  And once you have the tools, drive process change within your organization by using the tools to maximum advantage.  This is the real crux of the discussion because, like it or not, Microsoft is not going to back down on the subscription model.