Microsoft dumps Office 97

Microsoft dumps Office 97

Behind the fanfare of Microsoft's Office 2000 launch, the software monolith has quietly discontinued Office 97, leaving one reseller uncertain about its ability to fulfil current orders.

The production halt also appears to leave its customers with little alternative than to place blind faith in the first version of Office 2000.

Alex Petridis, manager of Sydney-based reseller Corporate Software, had a nervous wait for nearly $250,000 worth of Office 97 stock which began trickling in last week for customer orders placed before the June 30 discontinuation date set by Microsoft.

With some of its corporate customers requesting Office 97 - unwilling to jump on the Office 2000 bandwagon until the product had proved its stability in the market - Corporate Software was only informed Microsoft was discontinuing Office 97 around mid June by the company's distributors.

"Basically we don't object to Microsoft discontinuing stock because that's their prerogative but orders placed before the 30th of June should be honoured," Petridis said.

Staring down the barrel of lost business, Petridis said many corporate customers are uncomfortable migrating to Office 2000 because of licensing policies in force in Australia/ New Zealand requesting sensitive information. "They don't want to hand over to Microsoft all that information about their business," he said.

Tasmania's largest reseller, Computerland Hobart, is also biding its time before throwing its support behind Microsoft's flagship desktop software.

"Our philosophy is to move slowly. Microsoft has a history of being a bit buggy, so we prefer to lag. But with discontinuing Office 97 they're forcing the issue. Time alone will tell if 2000 is as good as they claim it to be, from first cut," said Euan Hills, managing director of Computerland Hobart.

Although Computerland reps will be actively selling the Office 2000 product, Hills said "as an organisation we won't be endorsing the product for one month.

"Microsoft is being brave with this but it has the ability to get it right. The proof of the pudding will be if Office 2000 is rock solid at first cut," Hills said.

"Overall we haven't heard too much negativity" about the transition from 97 to 2000, said Mark Linton, Microsoft product manager at Ingram Micro. However, Linton refused to confirm or deny whether customer orders placed before June 30 where able to be fulfilled. "With regards to customer orders, we can't comment," he said.

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