Microsoft announced Office 2013 earlier this week and issued a consumer preview of the software to users running Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you were wondering why there was no preview for Mac OS X, it’s because Office 2013 isn’t coming to the Mac. Microsoft will, however, be adding SkyDrive integration to Office 2011. Great.
Microsoft is a company known for creating strict, labyrinthine, costly terms in its commercial and end-user licensing. With Windows 8 seen as a make-or-break product for Microsoft, the company has already been adding licensing terms intended to strengthen its hand in the mobile market. As we reported earlier this year, Microsoft’s enterprise licensing for Windows 8 has provisions to coerce businesses into buying ARM-based Windows RT tablets while punishing those that deploy iPads with more costly terms.
Ratcheting things up a notch, Microsoft’s general counsel Tim Fielden announced new details about the company’s end-user license agreements. Although not mentioning specific products or services, Fielden posted on a Microsoft blog that many new agreements will prohibit users from initiating a class action lawsuit against the company.
There are a handful of intrinsic beliefs that Apple has as company – most of which came from Steve Jobs. The constant focus on building experiences rather than just products is one of them. Another is that Apple looks forward and not backward when it comes to technology. The company simply acknowledges that to offer its users truly great new experiences (and products), it cannot hold onto (and be held back by) outdated technology.
Apple often gets criticized for pushing its technologies and its users forward, particularly in business and enterprise IT circles. Despite that criticism, Apple may be doing companies (and users) a big favor by not supporting older Macs and OS X releases indefinitely as Microsoft does with Windows XP – and that advantage isn’t just about better products.
An IDC study commissioned by Microsoft discovered that supporting XP now costs companies and schools five times what it would cost them to support Windows 7 – making Apple’s forward-looking policy not only technically advantageous but also significantly less expense in the long run.
Last week Microsoft accused cloud gaming company OnLive and users of its OnLive Desktop of pirating Windows 7. OnLive made headlines when it launched OnLive Desktop earlier this year and again when it updated the product to support additional features and subscription plans. The app, which is available for the iPad and for Android, provides users with a cloud hosted Windows 7 desktop complete with the core Office apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) as well as Adobe Reader and a copy of Internet Explorer that iPad users can use to play Flash content.
After not voicing an opinion about OnLive Desktop for several weeks, Microsoft publicly announced that the OnLive was violating its license agreements and effectively breaking the law in the process. The issue appears to be specific to the licensing restrictions when offering Windows 7 in a virtual desktop scenario.
Although OnLive Desktop is probably the most well known cloud-based Windows and Office mobile solution, it isn’t the only one. And its competitors are quick to point the legality of their services and their compliance with Microsoft’s licensing policies.
Earlier this year, OnLive debuted its OnLine Desktop app for the iPad. The app offers users a virtual desktop environment that includes Windows 7, Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and Internet Explorer (which allows iPad users to watch Flash-based web content). The service comes in both free and paid versions that include 2GB of cloud storage and OnLive plans to expand the service with more advanced plans for both end users and for businesses.
While users and reviewers have been largely happy with OnLive Desktop, it seems that Microsoft isn’t. After being mum on OnLive’s decision to release the app and service, Microsoft announced this week that it views OnLive as violating its license agreements and essentially pirating Windows.
At issue is the draconian puzzle that is Microsoft’s licensing system and how the company charges for virtual desktops.