Microsoft has been talking for some time about software-as-service. Probably a good idea. Why pay $250 up front for office when all you probably don’t use it everyday.
However, Microsoft wants to take it a step further. You pay just to turn on your computer. Then you pay to use the browser. And then you pay to use Office or Adobe or whatever.
Microsoft says the advantage is you don’t pay up front for your computer. You just order one. The supplier sticks a module in the machine that locks you in with that company, and you pay as you go.
I’d be all for that, except…
Why should I pay for the operating system every time I turn it on? Particularly when I can download Ubuntu Linux for free?
Why should I be corralled into using one supplier or service and that one only? (You can’t use the cell phone argument because I have the same problem with cell companies anyway. Locking phones is simply evil.)
And if you don’t pay your Microsoft bill, what happens to your files?
The other thing that makes this idea really bad is the charge for browsing. Excuse me? I already pay for broadband. I should get that damn browser for free.
There was a time when if Bill Gates said it, it would happen. However, as we’ve seen since the tech bubble burst, that doesn’t happen now. I see three things happening. First, Microsoft is going to lose a lot of money on this idea. Sure, a few people will hear “free PC,” but then the horror stories of a $1000 Microsoft bill will flood in, and the idea will be abandoned or watered down. After all, Microsoft’s marketing machine has lost it’s Teflon coating. (Do you know anyone who loves their Vista machine? I didn’t think so.)
Second, sales of Macintosh units and PC’s loaded with some use-friendly form of Linux (Ubuntu, anyone?) will spike. After all, if I only have to pay $500-1000 up front for a machine and can download all the open source software I want for free, why should I pay my Microsoft free? Particularly when the open source software’s quality has improved considerably in the last five years.
And finally, that annoying little device riding on you hip is likely to become your laptop or main PC. At the very least, it’ll eventually be your main telephone and data connection some time in the next decade. Microsoft may be trying to patent the pay-as-you-go computer, but it’s already here as the iPhone and the Android and the Blackberry.
Not only is Microsoft planning to sell something I really wouldn’t want to buy, they might be planning their own downfall in the process.