MS extends subscription to the world

MS extends subscription to the world

Microsoft will rollout its Office XP-by-subscription model in five more countries across the world, following the trial's success in Australia.

Brazil will be the next cab off the rank, with Office XP subscriptions likely to be introduced by September, according to Microsoft's product marketing manager for small business division in Australia, Mark Linton.

However the US will have to wait a little longer.

I haven't heard of any plans for the US," Linton said. "It is without doubt our largest market and we want to make sure we have got it right."

Office XP has been available in Australia and New Zealand since the software suite's launch in May, Microsoft preferring to trial the subscription model overseas before taking on the enormous US market. Having deemed the trial successful, the software giant is now looking to other markets.

Linton said that since the launch, subscription sales were making around 25 per cent of the software's sales volume.

The company is now looking to sustain that momentum by working with its partners to ensure renewals are focused through its channel partners.

"We need to sustain the momentum and continue the education," Linton said"And to do this we will work with the channel to get the renewals through programs and call centre integration."

Microsoft will also offer a Small Business Edition of its software on a subscription-only basis. The suite will retail for $299 for a year's subscription.

Microsoft is also putting together an offering for system builders and OEM partners.

"Customers find it easy to buy Office with a new system. It is a very price-competitive market and it can be really tough for system builders."

The new bundle will likely be available by the beginning of September.

When Microsoft announced the subscription trial in May, there was initial concern the company would move away from channel sales. However Linton maintains resellers remain key to the subscription model's success.

"We are a channel company and we realise that," he said. "Resellers talk to their customers every day and Office is the world's biggest software product. We thought [subscriptions] would be a challenge, but it has turned out fine."

The next possible challenge is for resellers to push their advantage in selling subscription renewals.

"Know when you sold it to your customers, and 11 months later know where they are," Linton advised. "Let them know it is up for renewal, preferably by e-mail to reduce costs. It doesn't need to be difficult and it is a good revenue stream."

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