Don’t like paying exorbitant prices for commonly used Microsoft Office applications? Don’t want to get ripped off?  There ARE good alternatives.

At the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into software pricing in 2013, the heads of Apple, Adobe and Microsoft have been dragged kicking and screaming to face the inquiry and provide a real explanation as to why the price of their software is so much higher in Australia than other leading markets.

Committee deputy chair Paul Neville indicated that the Microsoft managing director did not offer any concrete justification for why Microsoft’s prices were on average 66 percent higher than in the US.

You can read the hearing on IT-Pricing for yourself at Page 31 to hear what happened when Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow fronted the inquiry…

The committee reviewed 47 Microsoft and rival products and criticised the Microsoft MD for what the committee claimed was “evasive behaviour”. It said the managing director was toeing the company line rather than providing information the committee needed for its investigation.

Our own recent enquiries on behalf of a client disclosed that the new price in Australia for MS Office 2013 under Open Business Licensing is $602.73 ex tax per license. To make it harder for you to resist paying for this software, the earlier Office 2010 is no longer available, and Office 2013 will not work on the widely used Windows XP Operating system: you must have at least Windows 7.

So why would you buy the ‘Open Business’ version, when a ‘box product’ version of the same software from Office Works is only $258? Well that’s another whole story, and another blog for me to write (keep watching).

When questioned on its pricing structure, Pip Marlow said Microsoft did not operate under a global pricing strategy and priced its products to reflect local market conditions. “There are a range of factors that affect the way we do into market — cost structure, customer perception, partner choices, but most importantly the competition we have in the market,” she said. Marlow said Microsoft was operating within the law but admitted the company was charging what customers were willing to pay.

So, basically, you can believe (or not) the alibis offered by Marlow, but essentially the problem is Microsoft believes there is no competition for its products and it will charge what it likes. Not just that of course, Microsoft believes it has the right to determine what we all need, and its current wish – particularly with small business users is to have us using cloud computing (so it can charge us by the month), with Telstra as its solitary accomplice, as Microsoft won’t allow others to market Office 365. Then to further encourage this agenda, it has announced that its Windows Small Business Server offering will be discontinued at the end of 2013.

Probably 80% of us use only 20% of what Word and Excel are capable of, and many of us hate the way Microsoft changed its menu format from Office 2007. We don’t have any use for the many bells, whistles, smoke and mirrors that these products are capable of. Well, it may come as a surprise that there are excellent alternatives out there that will still enable you to create and edit documents and spreadsheets in the ‘default’ standard created by Microsoft. Check out our blog on ‘Office Software Options’, and especially check out the free (Yes FREE / GRATIS / NO CHARGE) Apache Open Office! There is no need for you to be held captive to the pricing policy of Microsoft: you need your financial resources to support your own business, so tell Pip Marlow and her boss Steve Ballmer in the US to take a running  jump.


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