back to article Microsoft thinks bundles are great and customers love them

It's always interesting to see how technology executives crop their marketing messages to suit the audience. A case in point is Microsoft's Jared Spataro, corporate veep of Modern Work and Business Applications, who just weeks ago was talking up product bundles in terms of how valuable they are for Microsoft and customers that …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will we be wooed by a refreshingly honest Microsoft?[1]

    > "... pay one vendor at kind of a discounted price?"

    > "We think of this as average revenue per user … kind of moving people up the stack for us, and we would still say that there's a lot of room, early days."

    Maybe if they were as open with the customers as with the investors we wouldn't be *quite* so frustrated at their pricing practises.

    Although they only have E1 to E5? Didn't they learn anything from the phone companies: always offer so many "options" that people just break down in tears and sign whatever gets them out of the shop with a working phone that can do SMS.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Will we be wooed by a refreshingly honest Microsoft?[1]

      "Maybe if they were as open with the customers as with the investors we wouldn't be *quite* so frustrated at their pricing practises."

      They can't possibly be open with customers, because if customers knew upfront they were basically going to be milked as cash cows forever, they'd all have an "everything must be free* software" policy.

      * something something GNU something something Richard Stallman

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Will we be wooed by a refreshingly honest Microsoft?[1]

      If ever the day comes when Borkzilla appears to me to actually be honest without any hidden agenda, I'll check myself into a clinic to search for signs of Alzheimers or an aneurysm.

    3. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Will we be wooed by a refreshingly honest Microsoft?[1]

      "Although they only have E1 to E5?"

      Of course it's not that simple! There's E1, E3 and E5. Think there used to be an E2. Not sure about E4.

      Then there are assorted addon licenses such as the VOIP one for Teams. Or you can get an E1 and add some specific element from E3 as an add-on (which may or may not be cheaper than just getting an E3, depending on various circumstances). Plus there are A licences for academic institutions.

      They've made it nice and complex, of course. That said, when compared to Azure pricing and options it's actually very simple (which admittedly is more of a comment on Azure's labrynthine complexity).

  2. nematoad


    How does Microsoft upsell to generate more revenue per user? "Security ...

    It is to laugh.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      "It is a shame your system is so insecure because you didn't subscribe to the proper Ex bundle..."

      Based on recent events, even MS doesn't subscribe to the proper bundle when security is at stake.

  3. jeff_w87


    "Security is really the big driver" says the company that just got their wee-wee smacked by CISA for bad security practices...

    1. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Security?

      If security was a consideration, it would mean reconsidering batting anything from MS.

      If security was the top consideration, it would mean ruling out anything from any US megacorporation.

      As that is not going to happen, security is not important for many.

  4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Bundles are never for the consumers benefit

    All bundles of goods, whether physical or virtual, are for the benefit of the manufacture/supplier, never for the benefit for the end user. Some end users may benefit in the short term, but long term, the majority lose out. Bundle almost always include stuff you don't want and while putatively cheaper initially, will only ever have more bits added, prices go up for the added bits and more people find the bundles overpriced, full of stuff they don't want and no longer any way to buy the individual items they do want.

    Sales and marketing work on the principle that the customer, sales area, region etc "owe" them money and their job is to grab as much of that money as possible.

    1. navarac Silver badge

      Re: Bundles are never for the consumers benefit

      Much like the bundle that Windows is! Full of nefarious rubbish that is never wanted, never used, and unable to be uninstalled.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, I suppose if you want to make sure I don't come back that's one strategy, I suppose.

  6. M.P.

    Local Account team press companies with unrealistic price increases on lower subscription, plus giving them bigger discounts on the E5. So basically exploding the structure of their model.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Benefits me - kind of

    I have the family pack of M365, always bought cheap from wherever around Black Friday, so often around the £50.

    I don't care for anything other than the OneDrive, which I get 1TB of space and that is much cheaper than any of the price plans that MS have

    Add to that, I get to give it to the misses, the MiL, son and my neice and nephew is an added bonus.

    At work, I have OL, teams, Word and Excel. I personally never us anything else even though the new IT team keep on wanting to install things I do not need or want -

    helpesk : "oh, but your job indicates that you need these tools"

    me: "Nope, never used them in my life"

    so I guess they are paying for an E5 or summit, where and E1 would do

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Benefits me - kind of

      Sounds like you would need at least an E3 - possibly an E5 depending on what security services they are using.

      E1 doesn't include the installable programs - it's cloudy versions only.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Benefits me - kind of

        At first, I read that "E1 doesn't include the unstable programs", and I thought I had never read anything so true.

    2. keith_w

      Re: Benefits me - kind of

      Corporately licenses are sold for individual users, so they can be a mix of levels. One place I occasionally work at, white collar workers get a full license, blue collar workers (yes, that's what they call them) get a limited license.

  8. albegadeep

    Reminds me of a Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri quote:

    "Of course we'll bundle our MorganNet software with the new network nodes; our customers expect no less of us. We have never sought to become a monopoly. Our products are simply so good that no one feels the need to compete with us."

    – CEO Nwabudike Morgan, "Morgan Data Systems press release"

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Reminds me of a Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri quote:

      "Where do you want your node today?"

  9. ldo

    And Watch Out For Those BSA Audits

    When these corps agree to volume-licensing deals, they also agree to undergo audits by the BSA. And if the BSA finds that installations don’t match up with what was paid for, they levy a charge—not of the bundled price—but of the individual unbundled price for each of Excel, Word and all the rest.

  10. Cruachan

    The trouble is MS are right, at least in terms of "average" users rather than power users (which the vast majority of El Reg readers would fall in to the category of).

    They want the browser they are used to, the PDF app they are used to, the email client they are used to etc and they certainly don't want to have to change or think about what to change to.

    Office is a major PITA for deploying, it's a big app and they constantly change what's part of it, how to deploy it and especially how to customise it (lots of companies IME want Access removed because they don't want people to use it for example)

  11. Binraider Silver badge

    It's 21st Century Microsoft. You don't own anything by buying into their services. Not even a perpetual license. It's not like you get a nice manual or shiny product box anymore. That ancient copy of MS Works 3 still works (well, maybe not the original media). Office 2007? Not so much.

    Not a unique phenomenon of course. This is basically true in all manner of retail.

    Perhaps the best seller for MS is where they offer bundles to corporations with a ton of functionality in, that doesn't make it onto users desktops. For example, I'm aware that we have PowerBI licenses for several thousand personnel but due to the way the IT is being mangled, barely 100 users have access to it. Now that's a profitable arrangement if there ever was one. No doubt the licensing is bundled; making it "impractical" to unpick it and pay for what you actually use.

    Quark went even more aggressive, making physical media "un-resellable". Try using that license key from a copy bought off ebay, and you'll be greeted with Quark sales offering you a subscription.

    Is that so different to vermin media and their "bundles" with a tonne of stuff that nobody wants, but can't unpick? Landline phone? 20th century target for spam calls. Subscription Film channels? Don't care! The UHD channel(s) recently added? Similarly, don't care.

    In a rather more extreme case; there is a type of instrumentation that I work on. The hardware is still fully functional, however, the software is classed as "obsolete" in the eyes of the retailer. If you want to log a support ticket, they will insist on the hardware being replaced (to the tune of $250k). Needless to say, this supplier has basically been blacklisted and we use others instead.

    I don't mind paying developers for quality work, but the instant there is some sort of sub tie in, sorry, I'm out.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Not everyone is like that. I'll put in a quick word for Xara. I spent ages trawling around their website looking for "buy outright" pricing but only finding subscription offers. One quick query and about ten minutes later an email reply pointing me at the relevant page. So while they want you to subscribe - and you do get one or two small extras for subscribing - it's still possible to do what I have done for some years; buy a proper licence (for less than the cost of a year's subscription), use the software and then upgrade (by buying another licence) only when it looks as if the added features are worth it. In the past this seems to have been every couple of years.


      1. X5-332960073452

        Followed the first link, found the 'relevant page' with two more clicks (buy now, then one time purchase).

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Yeah, well I'm having a few problems finding stuff at the moment. A book I was reading just yesterday seems to have disappeared, and no-one has been around to move it...


      2. Binraider Silver badge

        Yeah, the list of suppliers offering conventional licenses is small but appreciated. Propellerhead have had a two pronged sales offering for a while now too. Reasons to upgrade reason across major versions used to be somewhat strong; but the application now has just about every imaginable function of a DAW at this point. Linear audio, sequencing, MIDI, VST support.

        Now it has all that, what feature will be added next that gets us luddites that prefer permanent licensing to upgrade? And therein lies the problem. Photoshop 6 did just about everything you could conceivably need of PS. As did Word for Windows 4; maybe 5.

        Excel reached a similar state when the 65k row limit was busted open, noting that most problems of that size are solved by better tools than excel.

        Increment version number, fiddle with menus to annoy, and resell does not warrant an upgrade.

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