Looser licensing a boon for Office resellers

Looser licensing a boon for Office resellers

Microsoft has changed the rules of its licensing for academic product in a move that will open up the software to the company’s entire reseller channel.

In an effort to ramp up sales of its new Office suite, the software behemoth has released a stripped-down Student and Teacher edition of Office 2003 that is already proving popular with distributors and resellers.

In the past, academic editions of Microsoft Office were only permitted to be sold by certified academic resellers. These resellers were given tough sales targets, had to prove that they sold primarily to education users, and generally had to go through a lot of red tape in order to sell into schools and to students at lower prices.

There were also restrictions in place on how a reseller could sell Microsoft’s academic software.

Academic editions of Microsoft Office had to be locked away in glass cabinets, without pricing details on display, in order not to compete with the standard edition of Office.

As part of the Office 2003 launch, Microsoft reversed this policy.

All of Microsoft’s resellers are now able to sell a new “Student and Teacher Edition” at the reduced recommended retail price of $299. This version includes all the fundamental applications Office offers – Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint, and a license for three computers.

For a family with teenage children and thus multiple personal computers in the one household, the savings are considerable.

Product marketing manager at Microsoft Australia, Stephen Johns, said resellers worldwide had been requesting this change for some time.

“They pointed out that people qualify for academic licensing might buy from any number of resellers, not just academic specialists,” he said.

The three-PC license is also a response to reseller and customer demands, Johns said.

“In the US, over 30 per cent of households have more than one computer and I anticipate is in the same ballpark here,” he said.

The best part for resellers is that the responsibility for ensuring that the software is sold to genuine teachers and students has been placed on the consumer rather than the reseller.

For previous editions of Office, resellers had to collect the details of academic customers and forward the information to Microsoft to ensure compliance with the vendor’s licensing rules. For the new Student and Teacher edition, resellers do not even need to request any student identification and are only encouraged - through Microsoft’s training and communications - to warn buyers that the software is not to be used in any commercial practice.

“The onus on being eligible for academic pricing now goes to the end-user, as it would for any other Microsoft product, rather than regulating the channel,” Hi Tech Distribution director, Ian Vagg, said.

“The only thing we have to be certain of is to warn customers that it is illegal to use this edition in any commercial practice.”

“The use of the software, like all Microsoft software, is governed by the end-user licensing agreement,” Johns said. Resellers told ARN that Microsoft was aggressively marketing the new edition and contributing substantial collateral into the marketing of the product.

“The opportunity for retail and the broader channel is that much bigger now,” Johns said. “In recent years the sales of full-packaged product have been declining at the expense of other forms of purchasing. This is likely to reverse that trend.”

Distributors said that many hundreds of copies of the Student and Teacher edition were already on order and forecast sales of tens of thousands of copies over the Christmas period and into January as the student community prepares for its next twelve months of studies.

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