The upcoming release of Microsoft's Office 2000 will include a registration wizard designed to ease the process and stem software piracy, with Hong Kong selected among a limited number of markets to pilot the new technology.
The Office 2000 suite is due for global release in the second quarter this year, with the traditional and simplified Chinese versions expected two to three month after the English-version launch, confirmed Fan Look, marketing director for Microsoft Hong Kong.
Hong Kong will be one of a few test markets for the Office 2000 registration wizard, along with Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the academic market in North America. These places were selected to represent a range of market development stages and on the basis of the existing support infrastructure, Look explained.
One of the objectives of the registration wizard is to streamline the process. "We're not doing a good job of making registration easy," said Look. Hong Kong follows the world-wide average, with less than 20 percent of end users registering Microsoft products for customer support, he noted.
The minimum registration requirements include the user's country and the product key, although the user's contact details are also requested so that Microsoft can provide additional support, Look said. Then, an automatically-generated ID number that is tied to the hardware configuration confirms registration, which can be carried out via Internet, e-mail, post, fax or phone.
All of the registration processes are designed to comply with international privacy laws, including the Hong Kong Privacy Ordinance, Microsoft officials noted.
Another key reason for putting the registration wizard to work is to help reduce software piracy. By requiring end user registration, Microsoft aims to cut down illegal copying of its software.
In Hong Kong, the overall software piracy rate was 67 percent in 1997, according to a 1998 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance. The average software piracy rate in Asia was 52 percent, the study found.