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Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions

No more $15-and-done option – cough up $70 every year, please

Microsoft is continuing its campaign to drive Office users onto a subscription plan by killing off its discounted Home Use program.

The program covers individuals whose employer already has an Office subscription and allowed them to download standalone software on a separate home machine for a greatly reduced price of just $15. But no more.

Eligible users will still get a discount – but only on an Office subscription package. No more standalone software. Microsoft is keen that everyone recognizes this change for the wonderful opportunity it is.

"Microsoft is updating the Home Use Program to offer discounts on the latest and most up to date products such as Office 365, which is always up to date with premium versions of Office apps across all your devices," it chirpily announced in a new FAQ question this week, before noting that "Office Professional Plus 2019 and Office Home and Business 2019 are no longer available as Home Use Program offers."

Why the change? You won't believe this but it seems money is at the root of it. Rather than pay $15 for a piece of software that you can then use for years, Microsoft's "update" will require home users (whose employers already have a subscription with Microsoft) to pay either $49 or $70 for the Personal and Home Office 365 services respectively. Every year.

Big savings!!!

That's still a saving of $20-30 on the normal annual subscription prices of $69.99 and $99.99 for Home and Personal but effectively a ten-fold increase in price on the old standalone program.

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Microsoft, like Adobe, loves the subscription model in large part because it enables them to bring in constant revenue, as opposed to people paying once to download software and then using it for 5-10 years. Plus, if people end their subscriptions, the software stops working. It makes piracy harder and gives the companies updated contact information on their customer base.

You can still buy standalone Office products but they are seemingly priced to cause you to think twice about it. For example, Microsoft Office Professional 2019 costs a hefty $440 – or several years' worth of subscriptions.

Microsoft stresses the advantages that subscription has: it gives you 1TB of storage; the ability to use Word, Excel etc on other devices through its apps; and it has some additional features as well as occasional updates.

But the truth is that it wants everyone to be a paying subscriber rather than a one-off software purchaser – and ditching this aspect of the Home Use program is just one more sign that The Beast of Redmond is determined to get there. ®

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