There Are Always Options

Sometimes working for my company can be confusing.  In most ways when it comes to technology, we’re way ahead of the curve.  We do things in manufacturing that no one else in our industry does.  That’s one of the reasons we screamed full bore through the recession.  While other companies were laying off, we were working seven days a week.

But for some reason, that cutting edge philosophy backs off a few notches when it comes to computer software.  My theory is that we’re so busy pushing the technical envelope in manufacturing that no one wants to take the time to learn new software when what we have meets the need.  Unfortunately, that concept has an expiration date.  Eventually you have to upgrade the software.

For ten years we’ve been happily skipping along hand-in-hand with Microsoft Office 2003.  As computers died we’d transfer the license to a new box and occasionally we’d buy a copy of Office 2007 or, later on, Office 2010 as new employees were hired.  That worked as long as all of the 2003 installations had the Office 2007 compatibility patch installed.  Sigh, all good things come to an end.

A few weeks ago a decision was made to upgrade everyone to the “ribbon” world so, as the resident “fix-my-computer” guy, I was drafted into handling the upgrade.  Office 2013 is out, so it seemed obvious that I should go there.  Obvious until I started looking at the licensing structure and how our friends in Redmond had tweaked it.  Curious, I placed a call to my buddy Bill to ask a few questions.  Bill says he isn’t involved with the day to day operations in Redmond anymore, but who really believes that?  The call went something like this:

“Hey Bill, JF here.  How you been?”

“Just fine, making money faster than I can give it away.”

“Can’t beat that Bill.  Hey, I’m getting ready to upgrade the Office software and I have a few questions.  Do you have a minute?”

“For you, sure!  Ask away.”

“So I’m reading the licensing and the first thing I’m seeing is that there’s no DVD in the retail package.  It’s just the Product Key and a URL.  What’s up with that?”

“Well it’s our way of fighting piracy.  No DVD, no illegal copies.”

“But that means I have to stream each install.  That’s a pain in the ass.”

“Not so much.  Besides, now you don’t have to store a DVD.”

“Yeah, but when I put it on the user’s laptop, I’ll have to stream it again.”

“You didn’t get very far into the licensing agreement did you?”

“What do you mean?”

“We don’t allow dual installs with Office 2013.  If you have a user who has a desktop and a laptop you have to buy two copies.”

“Almost all of my users have a laptop too.  That’ll double my costs.”

“Yeah, I know.  He he he. :)”

“What about when we replace a computer or if a hard drive fries?  I’ll have to download again for that too.”

“Sigh.  You missed that point too.  You can’t transfer the license to a new machine anymore.  You have to buy a new retail package at full cost.”

“Even if the hard drive craps out after a week?”

“Yep.  He he he :)”

“You’re trashing my IT budget!”

“That’s not true JF.  There’s another low cost option.”

“Oh you kidder.  I knew there was something else.  You wouldn’t screw an old friend like that.  So what’s the option?”

“Office 365!”

“But that’s the one that you just rent on a yearly basis.  That means that instead of my per hour usage costs dropping with every year I go without upgrading, my costs will keep going up forever.”

“Yeah, isn’t life great?”


Long silence


“Wait, aren’t there still a few copies of Office 2010 on the shelves?”

“You don’t want to buy that, it’s outdated.”

“Bill, you know as well as I do that there aren’t any major “must have” improvements between 2010 and 2013.  Besides, most people only use twenty percent of the features that the programs have.”

“But it’s still outdated!”

“Well, we ran 2003 for ten years.  I’m betting we can run 2010 for ten.  That’ll mean that it’ll be 2020 when we have to upgrade again.  That’s the year I retire and it’ll be someone else’s problem.”

“A friend wouldn’t do that to a friend.”

“That’s what I was thinking about five minutes ago.  I was wrong too.  Bye Bill.  Say hi to Melissa and the kids for me.”  Click.


I had to visit four web sites, but I now have in my possession enough copies of Office 2010 to upgrade everyone in the place and handle new hires for at least five years.  He he he :).  Who said that life had to be fair?

See ya

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