Microsoft last week launched Office XP in Australia along with its first subscription pricing model. The software was launched in 15 countries at more than 100 different venues, and will be sold outright as one of three types of perpetual licences - Professional, Standard or Professional Special Edition. In addition, Microsoft will offer the software as a year-long subscription.
"The subscription model is revolutionary," said Microsoft Australia office product manager Mark Linton at the launch. "We have listened to small businesses and we constantly hear that cashflow is an issue, and so far the retailers and customers have taken to [the concept] very well."
Microsoft estimates upwards of 50 per cent of users still on Office 97 will upgrade to the new software.
"Our aim is to get over half on in the next 12 months," said Alison Dodd, Microsoft Australia marketing director. Most of the sales in the next year will likely be to Office 97 users or to customers buying new PCs, she added.
Office XP includes new features such as Task Panes, SharePoint Team services and XML integration. But the feature which is attracting the most attention - and on which the software giant has placed the most attention - is the smart tag, an extensive pull-down menu that links formatting options to document content. Local developers such as Powerlan, Intech Solutions, Pacific Access and BNS have developed third-party smart tags for the new Office suite.
"The significance of this launch is bringing more businesses and people together," said general manager of SME online solutions at Pacific Access, which developed the Yellow Pages Online, White Pages Online and Whereis Online Web sites, as well as a smart tag which links these sites with the Office suite.