Most of us are used to purchasing new software that we download once or receive in a box once. Occasional updates online are fine, but at least the one and only expense is that original purchase price. Microsoft and many industry watchers are predicting that will change soon.
The anticipation is customers will pay a recurring fee for the benefit of instantly downloadable software that is maintained in the cloud. The upside of software as a service is users enjoy immediate updates as they are created. The downside is a monthly subscription fee over time may amount to a much larger total expense than a one-time single purchase.
With that understanding, I have to admit Microsoft is making a strong case for the multiPC home user. For just $99 annually, a home user will receive the latest version of the complete Office suite with continuous updates as they are issued. Moreover, here is the real draw—you can perform customized installations of that complete suite on up to five different PCs in your home. Now the money starts to look even better, once you consider the cost of individual purchases for up to five different PCs.
This will be an interesting trend to watch, especially for home users and home-office workers. Given technology’s evolution, I think it is a very understandable development. The important issue will be how much economic incentive will software makers offer? If the law of supply and demand remains in operation, I have to believe the sweet spot will be found, and increasing numbers of home users will migrate to the software-as-a-service platform.
We can argue the pros and cons all day of software as a service. Both lists would be long. That does not change the fact software as a service is the future.