The picture is more complex, especially in light of the increasing heat put on Microsoft's super-profitable suite by its competition -- OpenOffice.org, IBM Lotus Symphony, Zoho Office, and Google Docs. So the question of who wins and who loses from Microsoft Office 2010's is a bit more complex.
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A compilation of winners and losers by Computerworld follows:
Loser: cash-strapped enterprises. Amy Konary, IDC's software pricing whiz says that two words explain Microsoft's decision to eliminate upgrade pricing -- Software Assurance, or SA. Some companies were saving coin by avoiding Microsoft's pricey software maintenance contract and buying lower-level Open or Select licenses for Microsoft Office. Neither Open nor Select icenses require that companies to buy SA, which grants upgrade rights but nearly doubles the cost for volume licensing customers. Eliminating upgrades makes SA a near-requirement for companies that don't want to fall behind on Office releases.
Loser: consumers loyal to Microsoft Office. Many consumers are getting by just using a decade-old version of Office, or using a free alternative such as Google Docs. Microsoft is offering two alternatives to get back those users. The first, Office Starter 2010 replaces Microsoft Works, which had long been a non-starter mostly because of lingering document format issues. The new hosted Office Web Apps offering, meanwhile, is aimed straight at Google Docs.
But both Office Starter and Office Web Apps could prove a tad feature-lite for users accustomed to Office's buffet menu.
And home/small business users who still upgrade Office on a (semi-)regular basis are getting no favors from Microsoft. The full Home & Student edition, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, still costs $149 (2 installs), though users can opt for the new Product Key Card that can be purchased for $119 at electronics retailers like Best Buy. Like the upgrade, it offers rights for one installation.