If your staffers rely on Excel — and let’s face it, most do — watch out: Bill Gates has a sure-fire plan to balloon Finance’s tech spending.
Usually, a department that uses Microsoft Office spreadsheets buys a one-time license for the program for every computer or workstation it’s on. The only time a company would have to pay again is if new systems were installed or the company chose to upgrade to the latest version of the software.
But Microsoft recently started testing a new method of selling its Finance-friendly software. Code-named “Albany,” the system allows users to download and install the Office software suite on a subscription basis. Instead of being able to purchase individual programs — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. — this subscription test requires users to pay for every program, even if Finance only needs one or two.
Also, the program includes versions of Windows Live OneCare (Microsoft’s Web-based security program), as well as Office Live Workspace and Windows Live Mail.
For Finance, the Albany system is a double whammy. Many of the programs lumped into the subscription service are either unneeded or inefficient. Features like Windows Live Mail and OneCare may be useful for very small businesses, but most companies already have a mail system and security measures installed on machines. Excel’s what you want, but you’d essentially be paying a monthly fee for a bundle of programs Finance may not need.
And there’s a hidden efficiency killer in the subscription model: Since all updates would be downloaded monthly from Microsoft, the Albany system would require companies to update to the latest version of a program available. Your department might still be using an older version of Excel — or resisting the move to Windows Vista — but a subscription service means when there’s an update, your company will have to adjust to it.
The Albany service is still in a testing phase, but don’t be surprised to see this budget-buster popping up when it’s time for your company to upgrade its systems.