A guest post from the Unreasonablemen.net

News out today that Microsoft is going to offer to sell some versions of its desktop software on a subscription basis. This will be done in typical MS fashion under a cool product name “Equipt”. Confusingly some are calling this part of their S+S play but it seems that the software is locally installed so its not really “SaaS” – just the update feature…

My initial reaction? Cringe… I mean clearly this isn’t SaaS. The cynic in me leapt to the conclusion that this was a lame attempt to combat SaaS with a subscription model.

But then in an IM chat with Ben I had an epiphany;

What if this is a test case? What if MS is attempting to see if the success of SaaS is in its technical innovation – the software itself and how it’s delivered – or just in its commercial approach – subscription pricing.

Even if MS didn’t plan it that way perhaps we, the public could view it that way? Interesting piece of research in its own right?

Your thoughts as always are welcome.

  • Interesting take you have – that its a way to test the various attributes of SaaS (on demand and subscription) separately.

    It’s pretty strange that they’re only doing it through one retail channel – shows a hesitation to really jump into it…

  • Didn’t they try that 5 years ago and it crashed and burned for them?

  • Not sure Julian. I seem to remember that just this year they beat the hell out of a service provider in England who was offering something along these lines…

    Major hurdle to get over is the “license…to print money” vs subscription and rule of 78…

  • This qualifies as a S+S product as it isn’t just MS Office, but is an integrated package of Office, Live OneCare, and other Live products (Mail, Messenger, Writer, etc.) Don’t forget that Microsoft’s definition of S+S is not the same thing as SaaS.

  • And I forgot to mention that it also includes Office Live Workspace, which is the “+S” part of S+S.

  • True enough. If this is the reality of S+S then its kind of underwhelming

    I had expected more.

  • Falafulu Fisi |

    Unreasonable said…
    Confusingly some are calling this part of their S+S play but it seems that the software is locally installed so its not really “SaaS” – just the update feature…

    Umm! I think that it could be called SaaS although I am not a SaaS expert. I think that it is immaterial of where the app lives as a guideline to define SaaS. Java WebStart technology is exactly the same, ie, installed locally but it is being updated in realtime, when the local copy detects that the server has a new version (even if there was only a single class file that was updated the previous night). WebStart only downloads that single file itself and not the damn whole thing all over again. It is fast ( a few seconds for small incremental update). Such technology is appropriate for heavy UI and graphics which HTML or even Flash-based web apps lacks, ie, things like visualizations, interactive plottings, imaging, etc… The other advantage is that some of the heavy computation has be handed over to the local machine rather than doing it on the server.

  • Hey Falafulu,

    My understanding is that pure SaaS has no installed component. SaaS as a buzzword has a lot of crapola software being lumped with it and using its good name.

    For that reason others have tried to rename the beast to webware, internet delivered services etc….

    I have no issue with offline tools like gears, i think that they play an important role in SaaS.

  • Just to clarify some misunderstanding – Microsoft are not labeling this as SaaS, they have coined their own new buzzword called “S+S” which is Software plus Services. For example: Microsoft Office installed locally on your maching is “Software”, “Plus”, Microsoft Office Live is an online “Service” that complements the software.

    Obviously Microsoft want people to think that S=S is the same as SaaS so that it gets them in the cool crowd, but because something like 90% of their revenue comes from locally installed software, they have no reason to stop supplying locally installed software. So they are adding online services to complement their core produts like Windows (Windows Live) and Office (Office Live).

    On the other hand, you can consider their new Hosted Exchange service to be classified as SaaS as it’s a fully hosted email/groupware solution that requires no software installed locally apart from a web browser.

  • So maybe this is a debate of SaaS V S+S.

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