Microsoft allows Office to be bundled with new PCs

Microsoft is making the first heave on the Office 2007 bandwagon due at the beginning of next year with a series of new initiatives to recruit new retailers and tempting customers to upgrade.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference 2006 in Boston, the company has announced new initiatives that will allow OEMs to bundle Office Home and the Education version with a new PC. Until now they have been restricted to bundling the woefully underpowered Microsoft Works with new machines.

For the first time, original equipment manufacturers OEMs and system Builders will be able to pre-install and sell Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, previously only available through retail. In addition, Microsoft is making licensing changes that will give system builders more opportunities to sell Microsoft Office by enabling them to provide their customers with a free 60-day trial of Office on a new PC and allowing them to sell the Office license after the PC purchase.

Currently, half of small businesses buy Microsoft Office separately within 60 days of a new PC purchase. The new licensing deal gives the hardware vendors a significant chance to upsell their customers at the point they buy their new PC.

The company has also announced the ‘web services’ product Microsoft Office Live (which will be released as a beta later this year in the UK and three other countries; France, Germany and Japan). The service, which is currently only available in beta form in the United States, has more than 100,000 subscribers

Microsoft partners, frustrated at the delays to Vista and Office are in need of some good news. While Microsoft was making the announcements in Boston, in Cape Town Bill Gates revealed that there was an ’80 per cent chance’ that Vista would ship in January. Those able to do the maths, realised that there was a 20 per chance that the oft-delayed operating system may be pushed back well into 2007 before becoming available to customers, which will not have improved the mood of the Boston delegates.

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