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The irritating thing about Microsoft Office for Mac

If there’s one thing that I can’t stand, it’s needless segmented product lines – and that’s something that Microsoft continues to be more guilty of than any other company.

Today’s example is Office 2008 for Mac. As well as it’s upgrade options (more of which later), Microsoft offers three variants of Office: Home and Student Edition, Standard Edition, and Special Media Edition. The differences between them are largely artificial: Home and Student Edition is for, erm, home and student use, and has had support for Exchange servers hacked out of it. Special Media Edition bundles Expression, which no one uses.

And of course that hacking out Exchange support not only makes it unsuitable for some students – there are universities who run their email and calendaring on Exchange – but also means that home users who use Exchange need to spend £312 on the “full” version, just to get a single feature.

“But,” you might say, “how many home users use Exchange?” To which the answer is “a whole lot more in the future, thanks to Exchange support being in the iPhone”. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m using Exchange rather than MobileMe for my “home” email for a wide range of reasons. It’s simple, it’s reliable, and it just works.

And ISPs are likely to start offering it as a “value add” service for their customers in the not-too-distant future. That, of course, means more Exchange licenses sold for Microsoft – but no one is going to want to pay more than they paid for their iPhone in order to get Exchange support on their Mac. Charging £300+ for client code is a disincentive to users to switch to Exchange, which is something that will probably lose Microsoft more money than it gains.

In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with the old, sluggish Entourage 2004 – which includes Exchange support, but sadly doesn’t include Intel code.

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