The Looming Office 2013 Pricing Debacle

As many of you know, all desktop client versions of Microsoft Office 2013 are going to see a price increase. Some of them, quite significantly so. With Office 2013 currently being released to manufacturing (RTM) and on track for a first quarter release date – many are wondering how much Office 2013 is going to cost, how high the increases are going to be and why Microsoft is raising prices on an already “cash cow” line of business. Since many business users still rely on the desktop Office application, they can’t (or won’t) move to the online Office 365 offering. I look at recent developments in a commonly used version of Office, in what’s shaping up to be a mess.

And, I lovingly say debacle, because when these sorts of price increases take effect, most people have no way to stop it or negotiate better offers (unless of course you’re a volume licence customer – and Microsoft already loves you). My focus of this article is the most commonly purchased version of Microsoft Office, the Home and Business package that comes with Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint  The best deal is generally to get a PKC (key only) version (product code: T5D-00295). This does not factor in upgrades at this point.

Right now, it appears as though the new, higher Office 2013 pricing has already kicked in. If you buy Office 2010, you’ll pay for pricier edition, and have the option to upgrade for free when 2013 comes out. I wasn’t watching this as closely as I should have, but I recall how the package pricing transformed over recent weeks:

1. The announcement of a free upgrade option (Selling for $199.00)

2. Aggressive pricing of the Office package (Then, on sale for $169.00 in some places)

3. Prices then rose past the previous levels (Now, selling for closer to $237.99 and will probably stay there)

Looking around, I found this most-common version of Office is being sold at these prices:

  • From Dell (as an OEM installed package on a new PC): $199.00
  • From local suppliers: $212.69, $213.31, and $216.01 respectively
  • From mid-tier retail online outlets: $237.99$232.99, and $215.00
  • From retail chains: $199.00$249.99, and $249.99

Other price increases are also looming with the release of Office 2013 include:

  • Project Standard and Professional up by 5%, Server up 15%
  • Visio Standard  increased by 20%, Professional by 5%
  • Client Access Licenses to increase by 15%

So, what appears to be happening is that Microsoft (through the supply chain) is forcing the price of Office software up. Pretty soon, you’ll be paying at least $20 more for this package.

If you’re looking for Office 2010 on a new computer right now, here are some things you can do about this:

1. Don’t buy the full retail version. Get Office Starter (or find Office 2010 pre-installed on your computer) and then buy the key card only (PKC) version of Office 2010.

2. Look around for the PKC version from various stores. Don’t pay more than $199.00 CDN. This pricing is still out there. Print out a lower advertised price and have the Best Buy outlet price match.

3. Look for Alternatives. There are more alternatives to Microsoft Office now than ever before. There are open source packages such as OpenOfficeLibreOffice, and NeoOffice (OS X) available for use. They may require some changes on your part, but are more mature than ever.

Update: In March of 2013, there is at least some good news. Microsoft has bowed to public pressure on the transferability of the Office 2013 package. Previously, all versions of the Office 2013 suite were stuck with the computer you installed it on. Now, it can be moved.