Whitebox builders will be introduced to a new Microsoft program in the coming months in a bid to maximise sales of the software vendor's forthcoming Office 2007 suite.
Based on the existing Office 2003 channel program, Office Ready 2007 gives users two months access to the software suite before they have to purchase it from their PC dealer. The vendor claims the offer will improve the ability for builders to sell copies of the application, which is expected in December.
Historically, consumer and small business users were liable to buy their PC without an Office suite, then elect to buy one at a later date, Microsoft Australia director of small and mid-market solutions and partners, Pip Marlow, said.
These were usually purchased from a different reseller, she said.
Office Ready would tie sales of new hardware to the sales of the office application.
Marlowe said the 2007 program was formally announced last week. Details had yet to reach partners en masse.
One builder contacted by ARN, Pioneer Computers, expressed interest in the new initiative based on experience with the existing program. Total enthusiasm, however, was tempered by changes in the Office suite market as a whole.
"We will probably adopt the new program; we already have Office Ready selling Office 2003," managing director, Jeff Li, said. "But with Office, the price is too much. You can get Star Office or Word Perfect at a cheaper price and, who knows, maybe Google Office is coming online for free."
But despite his assessment of the office application market, Li claimed Microsoft Office software sales hadn't suffered in recent times.
"Office is stable. It's not growing, but it's not shrinking, either," he said.
The launch of Office 2007 in December, closely followed by Windows Vista in 2007, Li said, would be a timely event for local builders on the whole.
"Nobody is buying until then," he said.
Marlow wouldn't confirm which builders would take part in the program at this time. She also refused to comment on whether other Microsoft products would be offered to whitebox builders to sell in a similar way in the future.