Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Our local Staples office supply store has the new flyer out today.

Upgrade to Office 2007 for various prices and options at $160, $290, $340, $400, $690.

I found the titles, the price increments and the blurb fascinating.


We used to have two editions, now we have five editions. Whereas "Professional" was the label for the top edition (basic plus Access), now you need to go "Ultimate". (I have visions of a juvenile on a roller-coaster with the hair blown back. Yeee-hah!). Beats being a productive professional.

The blurb says that with Ultimate you get to collaborate with colleagues around the world, and "quickly create forms for all your business needs". Hmmm. That has got to be worth a lot, right?

The "Office Home and Student" intrigued me the most. I'll tell you why towards the end of this post.

Price Increments

I made a nice little bar chart and then calculated the ratio of neighbouring prices to get a better picture of the prices. $290 is 1.8 times $160, and so the rations of succeeding prices can be listed as 1.8, 1.2, 1.2, 1.7.

Moving from the lowest to the next and to the ultimate from the, well, penultimate, is a move almost doubling in price. The rest of the moves are near-trivial.

This leads me to believe that the stores are predicting most sales in the first and last categories. Why do I believe that? Because it is a big hurdle going from $160 to $290, so not many people will make the leap. Furthermore, if you have enough cash to splash on the $400 version, you are probably serious enough to lay out an extra $300 and go the whole (memory) hog.


The second major point on the blurb says "East-to-find commands that help you get started". I'm not going to say much about this; I've stated my views elsewhere.

I'm certainly not going to say that Staples is telling a massive lie. After all, their flyer-creativity team might have more experience in using the ribbon than do I.

And I'm not going to come out in print and say that Staples is leading consumers down the proverbial garden path, with all its attendant weeds and clumps of manure.

After all, it may well be that other stores have similar statements in their flyers, and they can't all be wrong, can they?

Home and Student

It looks to me as if the old "I'm a student" trick might have flown the coop. After all, if you can't prove that you are a student, you can always prove that you have a home, so why bother proving that you are a student?

But if I were the IS manager of a department in a mid-size to large organization, I'd shell out $160 for a Home/Student upgrade and install it on one machine in my office.

Then I'd tell the training department to produce a map of the 2000/2002/2003 menu commands to the 2007 ribbon commands toute suite. At the very latest by the end of this week, for Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

At the start of next week I'd award a half-day's paid leave to anyone else who uses the machine and has trouble finding a command, and I'd take the half-day's paid leave from the training department staff.

(With a nod and a bow to Robert Townsend )


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