Microsoft has launched its new online store for buying their products - you can download most right away but you'll pay at least 20% more for the privilege.
The Microsoft Store was launched late last week amid some hoopla about the fact that you can download products immediately for installation right away. Over the weekend we did a quick price check and found that the prices for Microsoft Office are at the high end of what you'll pay.
The current Office 2007 and Office 2008 for Mac prices on the Microsoft Store are the official retail prices, which are usually the highest you'll pay for any Office bundle. The 'street prices' for Office in most online and physical stores are usually much lower than the official price and you get a DVD for peace of mind and easier installation. The savings range from $40 to over $300.
Sure, you get 'immediate' delivery when you purchase but even allowing for shipping costs, the Microsoft prices are excessive. In many cases you can avoid shipping charges entirely (for example Amazon's 'super-saver' shipping which applies to all Office products shipped to US addresses).
Here's our price comparison of the Microsoft Store prices with those from Amazon.com. We chose Amazon because their prices are usually quite competitive, easily verifiable and the company well-known. Also the 'Free super-saver shipping' means there need be no additional delivery costs (even if you added $10-15 for delivery you're still ahead compared to buying from Microsoft).
As you can see the Microsoft Store prices are the 'official' prices with no discount for the savings to Microsoft of not having to make and ship physical product (DVD, fancy box etc).
The Office 2008 for Mac 'Special Media Edition' is a pricing anomaly that we'll discuss separately.
The Microsoft Store is offering immediate delivery of product - the idea being that you can buy now and be using, say, Microsoft Office quickly.
However a product like Microsoft Office is a large download - several gigabytes and could take many hours to download (depending on your net connection). Still, it's faster than waiting for a retail box to be delivered.
Microsoft undertakes to make the download of purchased software available for five years after the product is released (note - not the date of purchase). In the case of Office 2007 this means your download is available until April 2012.
If you do download from the Microsoft Store - it's a good idea to use the offered Download Manager because it lets you resume an interrupted download or even stop it yourself and resume later. Despite the Microsoft offer of downloads for years ahead you might feel more comfortable by either burning a DVD with the downloaded files (plus product key) or ensure the files are stored on a proper backup.
Most people focus on the downloaded files but the most important thing to keep is the Product Key. If you have the product key for your software you can install it from almost any source and then enable it.
If you can wait …
If you don't need Office right this minute there's a cheaper alternative.
Download and install the full functional Office 2007 trial - it will run for 60 days, leaving you plenty of time to do some price shopping and get an ongoing license for a lower price.
Not all products can be downloaded
Despite some of the hype - not all software products on the new Microsoft Store.
The Office 2008 for Mac products are only supplied on DVD disks.
For some unexplained reason Office 2007 Ultimate upgrade is also only listed for DVD shipping - though the full version of the same product is available for download as are other upgrade options. This might be an oversight that will be corrected.
Article posted: Monday, 17 November 2008
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