There were a couple of real hot topic news stories that broke yesterday and generated a lot of churn on the Internet.  I just wanted to take a minute to discuss each of them and give you some more reading to do.  Some of the reading will be at your own risk though – I will explain that comment shortly.

First let’s talk Windows 8 tablet pricing – specifically pricing from ASUS for their upcoming hardware offerings.

In an article on ZD Net by Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols with the title Windows 8 Tablets: Born to fail the author discuses a leaked roadmap document from ASUS that details possible pricing on both an ARM ($599) and Atom processor based ($799) Windows 8 tablets.  By the way those prices do not apparently include a keyboard but it can be added for $199 on each.

I will begin by saying if ASUS insists on those prices then these ASUS’s tablets which will run Windows 8 will be dead tablets walking. Of that I totally agree with Mr. Vaughn-Nichols. What I disagree with is the title of the story.  Why not name it ASUS’s Windows 8 Tablets are Born to fail?

The poor execution of OEM’s in the Windows world with their cheap hardware, bloated installations on top of Windows and their own proprietary, completely unnecessary system function overlays, is why Microsoft decided to build the Microsoft Surface.

If these prices for ASUS Windows 8 tablets hold true then it is just another example of an OEM looking out for themselves instead of maximizing their opportunities within the ecosystem by being more reasonable.  Maybe they think they are forcing Microsoft’s hand since the company has not announced its Surface pricing however, what I believe they have done is guaranteed that Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets will come in below what ASUS is apparently planning to ask for.

Moving on to the Office 2013 pricing news.

The Office 2013, aka Office 15, preview has been out for several weeks now.  We knew when the preview launched that the Microsoft Office suite of software was going to be delivered via a download from the Internet which would install functional copies of each program on your hard drive for online and offline use.  We also knew that the traditional software in a box option was going to be offered.

The one set of details we did not know was pricing for both options. Well that information is now out and was reported on at ZD Net by both Mary Jo Foley and Ed Bott in the following articles:

They provide all the details necessary to understand how the cost is different between a subscription based service and buying the traditional boxed software.  Honestly, they make it very easy to understand.

Well I delved into the comments on these three posts to get an idea of what the tech blog reading public thought of the proposed pricing and subscription offerings.

First my head hurts after going through over 230 comments on the subject but I am also enlightened about how folks perceive this pricing plan from Microsoft.

To begin with many do not understand that just because the software is delivered from the cloud does not mean you must have a persistent Internet connection to use the software. Local copies are installed that run when you are offline and are fully functional. 

The suggestions that the Office Web Apps that you can use with files on through your web browser are a functional replacement is not far off base – of course to do that you must have a persistent connection to the Internet as there are no local copies possible with that setup.

As you might expect a lot of folks in the comments stated they would solely use the free alternatives that are out there such as Open Office and Libre Office, which are quite functional, but they are not 100% replacements for for the software that comes in Office which are industry standards.

Then there were those commenters who said they would simply continue to use their currently purchased version of Office.  That of course is a viable option and should be secure until they are no longer supported under Microsoft’s Product Lifecycle Management scheme. At that point you are running these programs at your own risk – especially those who stated they are still running Office XP and Office 2003 – those suites are not getting any security updates and haven’t for some time.

Of course there were commenters who said the subscription pricing would benefit them when compared to buying the software in the box because of the ability to install Office 2013 by subscription on up to 5 devices in the same house plus use a streamed version of the software for editing a document on a machine that does not have a full install. In fact, when you do the math the subscription offers a lot of benefits – especially in households with more than one computer – and isn’t that the case these days anyways?

For me personally our house will be purchasing the subscription.  We already subscribe to Office 365 for our email which has proven to give us great flexibility and I expect the Office 2013 subscription to do the same thing.