I made the mistake of paying for Microsoft Office

My university, Purdue, has been offering discounted licenses of several software products. Some of these licenses carried restrictions like having to delete it after you graduate. This one is annoying but it makes sense, after all the idea is to hook the students, who are not earning money. Another restriction was that between Purdue and, in this case, Microsoft, they could unilaterally decide to end their agreement and void whatever license you paid for. I made this mistake. My advisor insists on using Microsoft Office, so I decided to buy myself a student copy to save some time when working with him on documents and presentations. Never again.

To my knowledge, Purdue has not made this announcement public. According to the licensing manager, less than 8,000 licenses for Microsoft products were sold last year (out of 48,000 students). Apparently, the rest of the students are using other alternatives, like Google Docs and pre-installed versions in their laptops. Interestingly, Open Office, now LibreOffice (a free and open source office suite), is not mentioned and it is not installed in the campus’ computers.

So, according to the agreement (I never thought that this would happen), my copy of MS Office will end this Summer. This is why people hate companies like Microsoft that restrict their users for no reason. There is no refund. There is no option other than paying, twice, for another student license for MS Office – or resort to piracy. There is also no institutional push for a standard, be it docx or odt, creating a mess of conflicting formats after pushing for years the Microsoft way.

If you create documents with the software of these type of companies, the moment you stop paying you have no way to access your documents and data. This is why open standards must be a priority in research and the academia. There is no reason to keep giving money to these companies that have such little regards to their users. I don’t mind paying for good software or services, what I do mind is when that software is taken from my hands for no reason other than greed.

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