Does Microsoft Price Gouge Europe?

Lockergnome subscriber Anthony Down is of the opinion that Microsoft is gouging its European customers. I’m seeking clarification on his assertions, hoping that someone from Microsoft’s European division can clarify the situation – as I’d only assume this is a mathematical error:

I am and have been a subscriber to Lockergnome and Tech News Watch for several years, albeit here, over the “pond” in Europe. I enjoy the mags and have gained a great deal from them, thanks and keep up the good work.

My purpose in mailing you is to draw your attention to the fact, and ask why is it that Microsoft policy appears to be directly involved in gouging their European customers for more than 100% on product prices.

Microsoft advertise Office Professional for $412.00 (Download) in the US. The same product again downloaded (From the Microsoft catalogue, not a third party retailer) to European customers is Euro 615.00. When the exchange rate is calculated, this makes the price of the package $824.00. Whilst we are used to just seeing the currency sign changed ($412.00 becomes Euro 412.00), this blatant ripping off is the very thing that encourages individuals to commit acts of piracy, as we see that Microsoft is involved in an alternative form of piracy on a huge scale.

I had decided to purchase a copy, and whilst the actual price is somewhat high, that fact alone did not immediately deter me, but when I saw the US price, I decided that perhaps it is time to investigate other options. I am not a “Microsoft Basher” (well until now!) but this makes me feel that it may well be time to completely review options available from O/S up, which for me is sad, as I feel that they are quality products.

14 thoughts on “Does Microsoft Price Gouge Europe?”

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  2. This is pretty standard in Europe and even more so in the UK. With the pound/dollar ratio at 2:1 we often see things priced like that.

    Apple isn’t too bad. They tend to price things more like $299 – £199 which is still a bit expensive but as we pay 17.5% VAT (sales tax) in the UK we have to expect a price rise somewhere.

  3. Price gouging is a fallacy. There is only a market price. If it’s too high, which your e-mailer indicated, customers will walk away, to either different software or a different way of working. I can think of several other Office solutions, so competition is present.

    If Europeans are willing to pay a premium, Microsoft would be nuts to pass that up. If enough people don’t pay, Microsoft will face pressure to lower its prices. It seems to me that your e-mailer and Microsoft are both acting rationally.

    Also, could at least some of the price difference be European tax/tariff? I don’t know the answer. Just throwing out the possibility.

  4. You can buy the US version of Office without problems from US retailers for the given price or as I would assume for the given price from the US website.

    But if this is a comparison to US version to a special language version of office this is not just a one on one currency conversion, this is a huge additional effort – starting with translating not only the software itself, but also the website up to the dictionary (which in my point of view ist the only usuable one in any prodcut, perhaps google dic comes a bit near that).

    I would not say this is double the price, but there is a huge effort going into it which is not quite obvious on the surface. It is also details like being able to go to any german store and buy stickers and be sure Winword has a template made for this included – and not only for any letter format from the states.

    [btw i did not see before a possibility to download and buy directly from MS – who would want a download anyhow? .- ; a quick check for a german off pro from results in 551 Euro.]

  5. Of course MS charge rip-off prices. But it’s not just MS, it’s Adobe (in particular) and every other US software “giant”. And anyone in Euro-land who is used to the currency symbol changing is getting a good deal: in the UK we’re used to seeing dollars equated to pounds. In case you hadn’t noticed (no particular reason why you should, after all) the dollar isn’t very popular just now: it takes two of them to buy a pound. So we get to pay twice the price – for what? Translation? To “English”? Please.

    UK magazine PC Pro ran a feature on just this issue in their latest, er, issue. Annoyingly they haven’t posted it on their site yet. should be the place when they do…

  6. I’ve lived in Europe for four years now, in Italy and Belgium, but learned early on to keep a working (house) address in the U.S. and an American addressed credit card. Microsoft isn’t the only computer company to charge people with European addresses much higher prices than U.S. residents, but they’re among the worst in the sheer size of the difference. Middle-class people seem to have more disposable income in Europe than they do in the U.S., which goes against the common wisdom but is pretty easy to demonstrate. That may be the reason that the big corporate sharks gouge Europeans. The exception seems to be low-priced German online companies, and their shipping is cheaper too. (Amazon-U.S. can easily charge double the price of a book to mail it across the water, a blatant rip-off.)

  7. It’s not only MS ALL USA tech companies gouge Europe!!!!!!!!!!!! Just look at European pricing for anything technology based and you can see for yourself.

  8. .. and it is not just the PC world where prices in the Us are not being transferred across the pond…
    We live mostly in Florida – and my son in London couldn’t access some store web sites from the UK because apparently they redirect based on the accessing machine ip address.
    Just try, for instance accessing the Abercrombie and Fitch site from the UK (
    This is a worrying trend.. if web sites are not universal isn’t the web as we know it under threat?

  9. I just finished an email exchange with the editor of a UK magazine
    discusing this very subject.
    For the life of me I can’t understand how people let themselves be abused by the likes of M$ and many other international companies.
    Abuse can only exist if the abusee allows it.
    People should realize the power they have.A concerted effort by millions of people can quickly bring the largest company to their knees.
    A revolt against this digusting ripoff can be done country (UK eg) wide or even “Europe wide”.
    Mobilize people,you’ll be amazed the power you can wield.

  10. try the alternative, grab a FREE Open Source Software packed OS, that already comes with 94 languages installed, at no extra charge!

    But, there is no doubt the 800+ FREE OSes that come complete with many office suites, hundreds of options, thousands of included programs and games, are the safe, popular option!

    I am Micro$oft free in all my businesses, schools, homes, and, am helping one abused M$ user to switch to Linux, every day!

    It is criminal, what Microsoft does to it’s customers! Really, it is! Court documents prove it! Microsoft truly is a multiple convicted felon!

  11. Well in Romania we also have a huge price on windows licenses, but we as a company have that whatever called program of theirs where we pay each year just a percentage of the actual costs. Well this year we found out that we were actually paying 50% of the total price of the package… meaning that every two years Microsoft makes another useless profit out of companies. That’s why i already bought separate licenses for the software and dropped the contract with Microsoft.

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