Microsoft Releases Office 2008 Prices: Panic and Confusion Engulfs World

Yesterday Microsoft announced the pricing for Office 2008, due out January 15th. The prices are as follows:

$150 gets you the Home and Student Package which at least gives you Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It *may* come with Entourage but it will not allow you to connect to an Exchange server.

$400 gets you the Home and Student Package plus the ability to connect to an Exchange server in a SKU called Office 2008 Professional.

$500 gets you all of the above plus some fancy media organizing package no one knows jack shit about right now. My feeling is this will come in handy for people who make media-heavy presentations. Like Steve Jobs.

Naturally, this got the Internets going on Microsoft releasing too many confusing SKUs when one will do. I don’t see that in this case. The Home edition is for people who need more out of a suite than iWork provides. For roughly double the price you get about three times the features. Yes, yes, I know some of you are perfectly happy with Text Edit. $150 for a package that gives you close-enough-for-government-work-guaranteed compatibility with Office users is a good deal.

The $400 version is really a $250 tax on being a corporation and needing to connect to an Exchange server. I find this reasonable, especially since volume pricing drives the price down quite a bit anyway. What’s that, you say? The poor college kid that needs to connect to the campus Exchange server has to shell out all that extra cash? Um, no. You see the “real” student price for Office 2004 is actually less than the Apple Education price for iWork. Through my University I can get Office 2004 Student for $68, and the Pro version for $80. Assuming those prices are inline with the 2008 pricing, college students can get Office 2008 Professional for about $80.

While I’ve switched a lot of my general word usage to Pages, I’ll be getting this day one. I’ll be damn glad I can get the student price on it though. Do I *look* like I’m crazy enough to spend $400 just so I can connect to the Exchange server at work?

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Guild Wars and MMO review cycles

I wrapped the *Guild Wars: Eye of the North* review this weekend. While I can’t comment on what’s in the review it did make me think about MMO reviews in general.

MMOs are a huge time sink—it’s in their nature and I don’t have a problem with that. The goal is too keep you playing, even a non-subscription game like *Guild Wars*. Finishing a review, though, gives me an odd form of closure; when I’m done with the review, I’m done with the game. *LOTRO*? Loved it. Only logged in once or twice after the review. Same thing with *Auto Assault*. When I wrapped the *Burning Crusade* review it was a few months before I logged into *WoW*—and was a combination of it running on my MacBook, an awesome guild, and the ability to get something done in an hour or so.

The industry is either shoving games out the door so fast you can’t think straight or they aren’t putting any out. It is not unusual for me to have reviews stacked up like planes at O’Hare National. January had *Burning Crusade* and *Vanguard* back-to-back and *LOTRO* wasn’t far behind. Usually when I do 2-3 MMO reviews in a row, I get burned out on them for a bit and by the time the urge strikes to play one again, well, heck, there’s another one that needs to be reviewed. So, as much as I loved the game during the review, the cycle the dictates I’m likely to not to do much with it afterwards. Even though I live in the world of Fun Tax Deductions keeping a lot of subscriptions going isn’t feasible (yay for companies that comp press!).

*Guild Wars* has always straddled that line. It’s free and, thus, well clear of the Anger Spouse With More Fees issue. But, it’s hit the Closure rule where I finish the review but make a note that I need to finish up a few things when the urge strikes—clear off some side quests, etc.. Which is where I’m at now. I’ve beaten *EotN*, but there’s a bunch of content I didn’t see. There’s bits from the older chapters I haven’t seen either. I’d like to think I’ll follow up in a month or so and cross them off my list. Since one of the driving forces on playing old games is if it’s something I’ll need for a future review, and *EotN* is the last of the *Guild Wars* line, I doubt I will. Besides, *Tabula Rasa* ships in a month…