In an article in Computerworld last week, the tech giant (more or less) confirmed that users of Office 2013 and future versions no longer have the option of transferring the software to a new computer when the old one dies.
For folks who hang onto Office software suites until it’s no longer supported, that’s bad news. But let’s face it: Microsoft has that right. Those frugal users are not replenishing Microsoft’s revenue stream often enough – part of the reason behind the company’s paid-subscription, cloud-based service known as Microsoft Office 365 ($100/year).
But from a public relations perspective, Microsoft took the cowardly approach to communicating this change: by merely rewriting a few lines in the nobody-actually-reads-this end-user licensing agreement.
Computerworld picked up on the rewrite and asked Microsoft if the change was true. The company’s emailed response was a celebration of brevity: “Correct.”
So what happens, Computerworld asked, if a user buys Office 2013, loads it on a computer, and that computer dies a week later or is stolen? “No comment.”
Companies that enjoy loyalty and resilience among their customers are those who treat consumers with respect. That means communicating changes like this openly and honestly, inviting dialogue and answering questions with somewhat less arrogance, real or implied.
It’s early days yet on this news, so widespread gear-grinding among consumers has yet to begin. But expect another public bashfest upon the company that brought us Clippy and WindowsMe.
And when that happens, one wonders if the keister-covering at Microsoft will be as succinct as its media statements.