An Amusing Solution!

In the long-running comment thread on the Who Moved My PowerPivot Cheese post, one of the recurring themes is “hey, just let me pay a small amount extra for PowerPivot in 2013, but give me a way to buy it ok?”

At the MVP Summit last week, Ken Puls mentioned that he has a way to do precisely that.  You pay about $30 for the right to buy a Volume License copy of Office 2013 Pro Plus.

I haven’t tried this myself but Ken certainly has.  Consider this a viable workaround until further notice.  Take it away Ken…

The Official Purchasing Channels

Rob recently put up a post on the availability of PowerPivot in Office 2013, and how it wouldn’t ship in all Excel SKU’s. This is a huge issue, to be sure, so I thought I’d quickly summarize the software distribution channels so you can see where you will/won’t get PowerPivot if you buy into the 2013 package.

You’ve got two ways to buy a copy of Office 2013 Pro Plus (the version that includes PowerPivot):  Volume Licensing or an Office 365 Business subscription (the Home subscriptions do NOT include PowerPivot). 

Each can be further broken down (see Chris Webb’s blog on Office 365 options [link removed due to 404] here), but to keep this easy to follow, I’ve kept it to key comparable SKU’s:

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The $30 Volume Licensing Workaround!

Now, here’s the really funny part about the above though… everything you’ve read so far would give you the impression that getting a volume license is going to be tough and expensive. It’s actually not.

The volume license requirement is that you buy a minimum of 5 licenses for Microsoft products in order to qualify for the volume licensing program. It does NOT mean that you need to buy 5 of the SAME product. And guess what? Some of those license are… well… they’re kind of cheap! In fact, a 1 user license for the “Microsoft DVD Playback Pack for Windows Vista Business” SKU is around $7.00 (CDN$).

I’ve talked to the guy who sells us all of our licenses in depth about the volume licensing can and can’t do’s, and YES, you are reading that right. You can buy into a volume licensing purchase for around $30 in addition to the product you actually want. And by doing so, a small business or individual CAN buy the Office Pro Plus SKU. It’s ridiculous, honestly, but it is 100% compliant to the Microsoft Licensing model.

If you’re interested in doing this, the guy I use (who is very good) is Jordie Braidwood of Think Communications. They are Canadian based, but are completely set up to deal with US businesses as well, so if you want to buy Pro Plus, and you need help doing it, drop them a line at [email protected] or 250.220.6033.

The Issues

By now we all know that Office Pro Plus is required to create and modify PowerPivot files.  It’s also true that we can still consume PowerPivot files that are created by others, no matter what version of Excel you’re running.  Whether or not that model is good or not, I’ll let you decide.

It should also be very clear here that, if you do not have a Pro Plus license, you cannot use PowerView at all.

I seems like this model was built with the understanding that corporate customers could buy the Office Pro Plus SKU through volume licensing or Office 365.  And based on what’s here, I’d guess that many businesses would probably evaluate buying of a few licenses for the “developers” vs the standard licenses for “consumers” of information as, with the exception of PowerView, you may not even really need PowerPivot on everyone’s desktop.

I’ll admit that I’m not really clear why we even need a “Pro Plus” SKU at all.  I’m not sure why PowerPivot and PowerView couldn’t just be included in the Professional SKU and be done with it.  After looking at this closely, it almost seems that Pro Plus could become the Office equivalent of Visual Studio, used to develop apps.  And if that’s the case, why would they sell more than a few licenses at all?  Of course, that would effectively kill PowerView, but then their current stance seems bound to do that anyway.

The part that concerns me the most here though, is that there is a hole in this matrix. Your home user or very small business cannot by a Pro Plus license through classic channel as there is no SKU available to buy a boxed copy of Office Pro Plus.  This is a huge issue, in my opinion, as this effectively cuts many consultants out of the picture if they can’t afford to buy into the minimum five license requirements of a volume licensing agreement or are uninterested in buying an Office365 subscription at this time.  And that is a factor that I see as critical to overall PowerPivot adoption.

Final Word

Like Rob has already said “I also think that this decision is so clearly “off strategy” that I hold out hope that [Microsoft] reconsider.”  We should not have to follow this dog and pony show in order to buy their product.  But at least there IS a way to get a single license edition of ProPlus.

If you haven’t already, please leave your comments so that Microsoft understands why this approach is bad for us AND them.