Microsoft has followed a solid business strategy by releasing trial versions of its Office 2011 for Mac suite in which users are able to try the software for 30 days before they commit to purchasing. The launch of the trial version comes only 4 months after the release of the Mac version of Office 2011 and, unfortunately for Apple, provides just one more reason why users will likely end up dropping cash on Microsoft Office rather than Apple’s iWork suite.
Despite the fact that iWork is a superior product in many ways, the fact that a new version hasn’t be released since 2009 is causing a bit of grumbling among users. Microsoft’s strategy for getting Mac users to commit to their product by releasing Office 2011 in advance of a new version of iWork, and now offering a free trial will have placed a dent in the future sales of iWork ’11. While it should be noted that Apple does also offer a 30 day trial of iWork ’09 on its website, it is unclear if they will do the same when iWork ’11 launches on the Mac App Store.
Apple has already said that they will not allow demo or beta versions of software on the mac App Store and that developers should instead host incomplete software on their own websites. To be fair, developers can and have gotten around this predicament by releasing full features and ‘lite’ versions of their applications, which meets the App Store terms and conditions.
Using iWork ’11 as an example, it will be interesting to see if Apple will allow 30 day trials of the software in the same way that it did with iWork ’09. These trial versions would obviously conflict with the T & C of the Mac App Store so Apple would likely host them on their own site. Doesn’t this create a paradoxical situation for the Mac App Store with users having to go elsewhere to find software?
This is something that could be rectified by Apple by including a separate section of the App Store devoted to demos, betas and trial versions. The Mac App Store is still very young and implementing this feature at an early stage would encourage both sales, and development of new applications, pushing Mac computing forward.