Friday, September 21, 2007

Microsoft Conspiracy or Office Depot Idiocy?

Today we finally gave in and decided we needed Microsoft Excel on our computer since people keep sending us Excel files. Should be pretty simple, right?

Not really. Microsoft has more pricing tiers than the airlines.

We went to our local Office Depot store, the prime advantage of which is we can walk there. The helpful lady at the store pointed us to the software and suggested we get the Microsoft "Home and Student" 2007 edition, which has Excel, Powerpoint, Word and OneNote, at a cost of $149.99 less a $30 mail-in rebate (why not a $29.99 rebate?). Seemed reasonable since a copy of Excel by itself was $229, and the various Office suites with Excel were even more.

But when we went to purchase it, we were asked for a student i.d. Why, we asked. Because Microsoft requires it, the fellow responded. But it says "Home" and student, we retorted. Also, we have a student at home. Sorry, he said, have to have an i.d.

Well, that is certainly ridiculous. Nothing anywhere on the package or the promotional material for this product says anything about having to be a student, much less producing a student i.d. So we demanded the Manager, who happened to be out of the store. Well, call him, we said. The call was made and the Manager relented. But, we were warned darkly, you'll have to register the product with Microsoft as a student.

Now we're not sure who's wrong here--Microsoft, or Office Depot. If that really is Microsoft's policy, i.e., requiring a student i.d. to make the purchase, then it is WRONG. The product is clearly labelled for home use, not just for students. Also, someone could easily be purchasing it FOR a student. (We offered to give the store clerk a sworn statement that our purchase was limited to both home and student uses.)

We wonder whether that really is Microsoft policy, however, because when we installed this one, we actually read the friggin' license. It clearly states that certain products for military members require showing a valid military i.d. But nothing about any such limitation as to students.

By the same token, we are limited to just making one copy, solely for back-up purposes, whereas an Office Suite product allows extra copies or adding licenses.

As for Office Depot, if they are enforcing some rule that is not required by Microsoft--which would have forced us to buy a more expensive product--then they are in the WRONG. Either way, something is WRONG here.

We think Microsoft and Office Depot should get together, have a little chat and clarify their rules. And, if Microsoft is going to insist on student i.d., then they need to rename the product--take out "home."


Anonymous said...

I actually happen to work at an Office Depot and we do NOT, I repeat do NOT, require a student I.D to purchase Office Home and Student (for the very reason you point out, it's Home use as well as student use.) It appears as though the store you went to was enforcing something that isn't even office depot policy and you were absolutely right to complain.

X Curmudgeon said...

I kind of suspected that. I'm going to follow up with the Manager of the Office Depot near my home (near the Arlington Courthouse, on Clarendon Blvd.).