“Charge ’em for the lice, extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice, there a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are a lot of tricks he knows
How it all increases, all them bits and pieces
Jesus! It’s amazing how it grows!”
(Master of the House: Les Miserables)
I’m often reminded of Master of the House when I deal with Microsoft products. It seems every time you turn around, there’s another fee, charge or limitation.
Take Windows 8 as an example. You can buy it in professional or home edition – or if you buy a laptop off the shelf in a store, you’ll have very little choice. The options that differ between home and pro are odd, to say the least. Home edition, for instance, doesn’t support being a target for remote desktop. That requires the pro edition. Equally, consider network shares. I maintain a separate partition on my Mac laptop that’s encrypted. It’s where I store all my work files, etc. A Windows 8.1 Pro machine can access the CIFS share from that encrypted partition without any problems … a Windows 8.1 Home machine will just sit and crunch away until Explorer has fully seized up.
But that’s all OK – Microsoft has a handy option for upgrading to pro within the operating system … at $110AU. How it all increases, all them bits and pieces…
Then there’s Office 365. Which doesn’t come with all the Office-associated products. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining on that front. I pay AU $12.95 a month for a 5-machine subscription that gets me Word/Excel/Outlook/Powerpoint on our Macs, and Word/Excel/Outlook/Powerpoint/Access/Publisher on the Windows systems I have. And it covers 5 tablets as well. That’s a pretty good deal by anyone’s standards.
But when I want Visio? Well, the Office Store lets me buy (as downloads) Visio 2013 Standard for $539, or Visio 2013 Professional for $1049. Or I can duck down to my nearest discount computer store and buy Visio Standard 2013 in DVD-format for $439. A hundred dollar saving for leaving the house. Naturally, the $100 cheaper version was the one I went for.
…Except going to install it results in a ridiculously inane error message along the lines of: “Could not install this now. Try again later.”
Try again later? Perhaps tomorrow? Next week? In a fortnight? On the fifth Friday of a month? The offer to click for help just launches Explorer (not Internet Explorer, Explorer) and opens up a window to the installation package. Hardly helpful.
A good hour and a half of digging later and I reached the conclusion that maybe the oblique references being made by Microsoft employees on Microsoft support forums means that Office 365 and non-365 Office components aren’t compatible – at least, not when Office 365 is already installed.
So after uninstalling Office 365, voila! Visio installs.
I believe the words I used at the time were you’re shitting me. They may have been slightly more colourful than that.
Jesus! It’s amazing how it grows!
Everywhere you look, it’s a similar thing: Microsoft licensing is a web of complexity. Multiple server OS versions. Multiple desktop operating system versions. Multiple SQL server versions. Multiple SharePoint versions. If they’ve got a product, they’ll have two or three versions of it with esoteric differentiations that have little to do with consumer options.
If Microsoft had a theme song, it would be Master of the House.