Windows 8 with Office - sort of

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One Windows 8 product will include Office – but only in part and expect to pay more later.

There are four Windows 8 products (actually three since one is the only choice for the upcoming Windows tablets):

Windows 8 – the equivalent of the current ‘Home’ editions of Windows 7

Windows 8 Pro – adds some important security features like BitLocker, BitLocker To Go and the older Encrypted File System among other more advanced features like booting from a virtual drive (VHD) and HyperV for those of us who use a lot of virtual machines. The Pro edition is needed to act as a host for Remote Desktop (in other words, only the Pro edition can be accessed from another computer).

Windows 8 Enterprise – is a bit vague. Microsoft is only saying “features for IT organization that enable PC management and deployment, advanced security, virtualization, new mobility scenarios, and much more” as well as all the ‘Pro’ and regular features. Enterprise edition will only be licensed to organizations through Software Assurance.

All the above are for traditional Intel based 32 and 64 bit computers. Only the first two will be sold retail.

Windows 8 RT – RT is the new Windows version for ARM based tablets and PC’s that includes a version of the next Office.

Windows with Office …

The Tablet version of Windows 8 will have a version of ‘Office 15′ (the next version of Office) that has Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote ’15’ with touch screen features included to work with the tablets.

Note the crucial omission of Outlook from the Office 15 bundle with Windows 8 RT.

That means it’s now certain (as we predicted months ago) that there’ll be some ‘upgrade’ options to generate more income for Microsoft. If only to offer an ARM and tablet based version of Outlook and maybe Publisher, Visio and Infopath.

Microsoft’s announcement didn’t have the important words ‘fully functional’ with regards to the Office 15 programs that come with Windows 8 RT. They only talk about ‘desktop’ versions of the Office software. That leaves the door open for the programs to be limited (like the current trial or Starter Editions) and expect customers to pay more for the full Word, Excel etc. they expect.

Office 15 (in some form) is being included with Windows 8 RT because Microsoft is willing to sacrifice some income in order to entice customers away from the popular Apple and Android tablet devices back to the Windows fold.

But they aren’t prepared to give away too much. Just enough of a carrot to get people buying the new ARM devices, then get some more money later when customers realize the ‘Office’ they bought isn’t the full deal.

We can see the promotions now – ‘Buy a tablet device that has the real Microsoft Office’. It’ll be more subtle than that, but it’ll amount to the same thing.

Redmond Product Shuffle – fools them again

Microsoft is at it again … playing their product shuffle for the new release of a product.

The company is very clever at rearranging their products to make ‘like for like’ comparisons with other versions much harder and give them a simple story to sell to busy journalists. For Windows 8 the line has been ‘simpler choice for customers’ or ‘less SKU confusion’. In the past, when they have expanded the product line, the story has been ‘more choice for customers’ or ‘greater product range’.

We’ve seen Redmond do this for Office for over a decade, it’s a clever strategy and it works.

Whatever Microsoft does, you can be sure the aim is to maximize their revenue, which should not be a surprise since they are a listed company not a charity.

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