Is Microsoft’s plan to work with ASPs to offer software on a subscription basis a good idea for consumers, or just Microsoft?

A recent column by TechRepublic contributor Tim Landgrave outlined Microsoft’s plans to rent their software through ASPs. Microsoft’s strategy hinges on whether ASPs will offer perpetual or non-perpetual licenses and license products per user or per CPU.

Here is what some of you had to say:

Great idea
For Ezra Walker, Microsoft’s plan would be good for both businesses and the company’s shareholders. “This is a great idea. Clients can upgrade routinely with a more direct download-style ‘infusion’ rather than the old ‘here’s the disc… good luck.’ MS is finally offering something exciting and new that can actually raise their gross margins.”

Other readers also saw Microsoft’s strategy as a way to allow companies and individual users who can’t afford perpetual licenses to have greater access to applications. “This will help make online access to applications viable and help the Web take off the way it was always meant to,” said Crystal Woods. “It will also mean that virus protection can once and for all move from an individual responsibility back to those with the resources to do it properly.”

Depends on price
Whether Microsoft’s plan will work or not depends on the price and conditions of the license, said Miguel Becerra. If the price is better than paying a one-time charge, users will prefer renting applications.
Check out the threaded discussion from this article.
Will consumers have a choice?
If Microsoft does embrace its new plan for licensing software, LMS29 wanted to know whether companies would still be able to decide whether to buy software or use applications through an ASP. “Some of us don’t need to be able to work anywhere but at our own PC.”

Choose alternatives
For JKaiser, Microsoft’s newest strategy would push users to alternative platforms, including Sun and Lotus: “If this new, non-perpetual licensing model becomes the only method with which to license MS products, I expect many will look very closely at alternatives—StarOffice and SmartSuite come to mind.”

Security and productivity
For others, Microsoft’s plan raises questions about security. Bob Ritchey told us that he works behind a firewall that usually doesn’t allow the type of connection required to download such a license.

“I also don’t want to become less productive because I have to wait for software to download across a modem every couple of months as new versions, then service packs, become available,” he said. “At 53K, it would take a very long time to download the newest version of MS Office. I only pray that they never come out with an update for Windows and Office at the same time, or I won’t be able to work for a week.”

Security was also a concern for Barry Young who called the plan “a hacker’s dream.”

Not in a million years
Craig Smith, an MIS administrator, said that, based on his experiences with ASPs, he wouldn’t “in a million years” rent vital software like Office or Exchange services. “I do not even want to ever have to consider dealing with issues of where my files are going to reside and getting over the hurdle of speed,” he said. “It’s ugly, and it’s not going to get any better.”

The Internet is unreliable
Others expressed concern over the Internet’s reliability and its effect on a business if an application is unavailable. “In the past three months, I have had over 12 hours of outages on my T1 line and ZERO downtime on my network,” wrote Gregg Harcus. “Most of the outages have been local phone company switch problems.”
Have you had concerns about security and privacy? How were those addressed? Has bandwidth been an issue? Post your comments, or send us an e-mail.