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What happens when your Office 365 subscription runs out? Ransom

This may make you think twice before shifting to a subscription model vs. an installed model.

It's no secret that Microsoft would like to move as many customers as it can to a subscription model for Office instead of the traditional version installed on PCs. That was the impetus behind the restrictive licensing terms in Office 2013 - to push individuals and single users over to the on-demand version.

At the time of launch, I felt Office 365 was a 1.0 product, rather basic in features and functionality. Microsoft plans to enhance the online suite, and we may yet see an iPad version of it as well. Those reports go back and forth like a tennis ball.

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However, you might want to think of the consequences of using Office 365. While Office 365 resides in the cloud (ie. Microsoft's servers), your data files are still stored locally. However, without an active 365 subscription, your files become essentially useless.

In particular, you should be aware of the consequences of when your subscription runs out. As one Business Insider editor (and former Network World editor) found out, your data doesn't go away when your subscription ends, but it becomes like a strip club. You can look, but you cannot touch.

She could open data files in Word and Excel, but could not edit them in any way. When you try to launch the Office apps, you get a notification that your subscription has expired and are asked to renew. There is also the option to view your files for free.

Office 365 formally launched at the end of February 2013, so this is the time that customers who bought one-year subscriptions should be learning the same thing.

I'm not going to condemn or condone this, because I can see both sides. What is Microsoft going to do when your sub runs out, pop up a screen and nag you? Like that would work. On the other hand, that could prove severely inconvenient.

What it boils down to is another variable in the calculus that a company must do when considering the on-demand vs. on-premise versions of the software. It all must be taken into account when making the decision. I'm sure Microsoft gave warning that this would happen in the end-user license agreement, but really, who reads those?

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