Finally, I paid for MS office 2007 Ultimate

There is a great deal for college students to buy MS office 2007 ultimate at USD 60.00, from Sep, 2007 to Apr, 2008. It cost almost USD 700.00 from regular channel but MS gave out this offer to induce more students. The strategy is simple yet powerful: if the students, or the future buyers, are accustomed to use MS office, they will keep using it when they begin to work and then they will have to pay much higher cost.

Today I paid MS to have an authentic product key and began to download the office suite.

This is, actually, the first time I bought authentic MS office. I have been using it since the first day I had my own pc, from MS office 3.1 to the current Office 2007, but I never paid a coin to MS or its agents. I might have paid more than USD 60.00 (100 or 200?) in China to get pirated CDs of MS office in numerous times, and many of the time it was painful to install, crack, upgrade, reinstall the product. I always felt guilty of using it for free, which cost, I think, more than RMB 4,000.00, or USD 500.00 for each version, not counting the fees for upgrading. That was stealing. But I was a poor student then. Even after I had a job, a month’s salary could not afford it. Most of all, I was attuned to "free" software, though actually pirated and not free.

Why I did not choose other office suites which might be much cheaper or even free? First, there was not much alternatives for MS office. Lotus office disappeared after about 1999, and still it was not affordable to me. Wordpro office was even worse in marketing. I might choose some office suite made by Chinese companies, but they were just awkward and ugly and crashed oftentimes. However, I think the most important reason was that, everyone was using MS office (mostly pirated), and it was an a priori to apply for a job!

That was why I did not buy MS office even for once in the last 10 years. After I came to USA and found that the price in university store was as cheap as USD 100.00, I still did not buy because of the consideration of money. That was a large sum of green cash to me, and I could always find the cracked MS office, so why spend money on it? So I used MS office 2003 and 2007, enjoying the advance of the technology and not paying anything.

Yet it was becoming more and more uneasy in my heart. Free lunch is not free at all! It’s just sometimes you cannot see the hidden cost! I have paid thousands of RMB to buy pirated CDs and most of them were just left aside and never touched, and a lot of time was wasted trying to crack the softs and games, and I did not fully enjoy more than 5 games (C&C, Red alert, Diablo, Pal, Xuanyuan Sword, and no more). I did not see the time lost in finding the CDs and the cracks, I did not see the wasted money, and I did not see the lowered integrity. I told myself, this is ridiculous and I have to change, and I have to cherish what I have paid and pay what I should cherish.

So happened was this deal.

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