Subscription price trap

Even the New York Times falls for Microsoft’s spin on Office 2013/365 prices

Microsoft has played a clever game with Office 2013 subscription pricing and the media has taken the bait with the proverbial hook, line and sinker.

Take this generally positive review of Office 2013 titled “Subscribing to Office, Now and forever” from the New York Times.

It talks about “buy an annual subscription to these programs for $100 a year” which is exactly what Microsoft wants customers to read.  However it’s quite wrong.

It’s more correct to say “buy an annual subscription for $100 in the first year“.

There’s no guarantee that the now advertised subscription fee will continue in future years – in fact any smart money would bet on an increase in some form.

Yet the NYT says Office 2013/365 is “a fixed, knowable fee that keeps you up to date” which is quite wrong. The annual subscription fee is neither fixed nor knowable.


Microsoft Office has a long history of effectively raising prices while appearing not to be. Microsoft pushes some low ‘headline’ price for the press to mindlessly quote while the effective cost to consumers goes up.

For a long time, each release of Office has seen a juggling of the available packages/bundles so that it’s hard to do a direct comparison of prices between versions.

Microsoft stopped giving upgrade discounts to existing Office users in 2010 which amounted to a sharp increase in the revenue they generated from their famous cash cow software.

Office 2013: the real startup guide has a chapter devoted to buying Office for the lowest possible price with many tips and hints for getting the same software for less money.


Office 2013 retail pricing isn’t really buying “the Office suite as you always have” as the New York Times suggests.

Microsoft also tried making Office 2013 retail licenses non-transferable but were forced to back down in the face of slow retail sales (sorry “customer feedback”).

With Office 2013 they retained what appeared to be similar prices to Office 2010 bundles but the Office 2013 product contained only one license – not the two or three you got for Office 2010. With a simple change in license wording, Microsoft doubled or almost tripled the price of Office without hardly a peep from a compliant media scrum.

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