Why Buy Software When You Can Rent It

Hulu did it for video, and Spotify did it for music. Now Roozz is hoping to do the same thing for software: bring it to the cloud, in a hosted, pay-as-you-go format. The Roozz End User version is slickly designed and mostly easy to use, but, for now, at least, it’s a bit hindered by the limited selection of applications.

To use Roozz, you simply point your browser to Roozz.com. The company says it works with all available browsers.  You’ll need to go to Roozz End User tab (as opposed to Roozz Developers, which is for software vendors who want to rent out their wares). From there, you install a small plugin, and you’ll be able to run any of the available applications right in your browser. You can scan Roozz’s list of available applications at the site, where they’re neatly listed by category. Hovering your mouse over the titles shows you a brief description of the application, and the rental fee if there is one.

Many of the titles on Roozz are available for free, but some are available for rental only. The prices, which are set in per-day, per-week, or even per-year fees, seem very affordable. Some titles cost 99 cents for a week, while others are less than $4 per day. The most expensive title I saw in a quick scan was a game demo that cost $25 for a three-month rental. Prices are determined by the software publishers, but Roozz says it has offered input on pricing, as this rental model is somewhat new.

Roozz’s selection is somewhat limited, but it does include a good number of titles you’d be better off renting than buying. As of this writing, the company claims approximately 160 title. for rent and is planning to expand its catalog, saying it expects its library to reach 300 titles in 2013 and “upwards of 1000” in 2014. The current library includes a whole host of titles I’d never seen or heard of, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t include some worthy applications, including titles like Audacity, Irfanview, and Xmind.

Roozz features several apps that fit with its rental model, as they’re the kinds of applications you may only need to use once or twice, so renting them makes more sense than buying them. For example, you can rent ConvertXtDVD, an application for burning videos to DVDs, for $12.38 for a one-week rental period. If you’d like to buy the application, it will cost you $45. Similarly, you could rent Able2Doc a PDF to Word Converter for $6.61 per day. If you’d like to buy the application, which converts PDFs to editable Word documents, you’d have to shell out $50.

If it was not for the Web browser address bar, you might never know you were running software in the cloud, not on your desktop. Launching an application involves little more than double-clicking a title, accepting the EULA, and paying for the software when necessary. (Payments are made through PayPal or a credit card.) In all, the process is quick and easy, much more so than downloading an application and installing it on your hard drive.

Overall, using the applications in my browser window felt no different from running similar titles on my desktop. The response time was quick, with no noticeable lag—a far cry from when I first tested software-as-a-service products years ago, when many applications seemed to run at dial-up-like speeds even over broadband connections.

Roozz and its current business model shows plenty of promise. It’s a bit hampered right now by its limited application selection, but that should improve with time. If it does, Roozz could be a software force to be reckoned with.

http://www.roozz.com

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