Reuters reports that Microsoft offers now a pay-as-you-go model for Office 2007 in South Africa. First-time users can buy a three-month subscription for $28.54. The official justification for this move is that software becomes affordable for customers in the emerging markets this way. However, I have doubts that this is the real motive.

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The point is software doesn't get cheaper if you offer it thru a subscription based model. I think the people in South Africa are smart enough to calculate how much they will have paid for Office in five years time. If you want everyone to afford your product, you simply have to lower its price.

As I see it, Microsoft is experimenting with such pay-as-you-go models in countries where there is not much at stake. They have done this before with Office 2003 in Mexico and Romania. We will probably see more like this in the northern hemisphere, soon. The reason behind this is Google, in my opinion. Microsoft is afraid that a new potent competitor is entering a market where they have defended their monopoly for quite some time now.

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It probably won't take long before you will be able to get Microsoft software in much smaller pieces: You want to use footnotes in Word? You can have it for 30 cents a month. Click here to pay, download and run it. You don't want to pay for it? Then please accept our ads.

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