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Microsoft hopes to lure bargain hunters with new subscription model, perhaps hints at changing business plan

There have been some in the software industry who have advocated a subscription model for their programs.  They suggest that rental programs could save both the consumer and the software companies.  Microsoft seemed to validate those advocates as it announced that it will begin distributing rental copies of its popular Office productivity suite.

The new deal will bring copies of the software to over 700 Circuit City stores across the country.  The latest version of the Office suite will be bundled with Microsoft's Live OneCare computer security software and will work for $70 per year.

Bryson Gordon, a group product manager for the Office group said that Circuit City does not have an exclusive distribution agreement; it was merely the first to jump on the opportunity.  He said other retailers and PC manufacturers such as Dell may be offering the software bundle soon as well.

The new software bundle is named Microsoft Equipt and comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, plus OneCare and a handful of existing free Windows Live applications.  It was rumored for months, under the codename "Albany". 

Mr. Gordon explained that Equipt is aimed at people who when buying a new computer would skip and Office purchase and merely reuse old Office disks or pirate a friend's copy.  He said that the $70 price tag falls in the middle of McAfee Inc. and Symantec Corp's security offerings, so users can justify the purchase merely as a security suite and get the productivity software as a bonus.

Matt Rosoff, an analyst for the independent research group Directions on Microsoft remarked that while Office is the industry standard, the OneCare security suite has seen slow adoption.  However, he feels the low price and creative business model may help it catch on, probably part of Microsoft's intention with the bundle.

He argues that Microsoft's main focus, though, is increasing the number of Office users, and trying to keep them from an increasing number of free solutions, such as Google's popular Docs software.

Equipt, like Office Home and Student 2007, allows installation on up to 3 machines.  Minor updates are automatically provided, through Window's update software.

The software will be available mid-July.

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RE: Nice package, but...
By SecTech767 on 7/6/2008 12:03:13 AM , Rating: 2
Hey guys, just a couple of points to make.

1- AVG is being dropped because of the release of 8.0, so the owners dont really care about the free version anymore.

2- Equipt is aimed at student's heading off to collage. Its a damn good deal and anyone who isnt a cheap bastard could see that.

3- One care has stepped up to par since its release. It has improved in many ways and is one of the best security suites on the market.

my two cents.

RE: Nice package, but...
By just4U on 7/6/2008 3:30:44 AM , Rating: 3
I accually agree with you. I like Onecare. It's fairly decent overall and not to complicated for novice computer users. Which is a plus in and of itself.

RE: Nice package, but...
By JustTom on 7/6/2008 10:45:21 AM , Rating: 3
Where did you learn the AVG is dropping its free version? I have 8.0, it is free, and it works fine.

RE: Nice package, but...
By xsilver on 7/7/2008 12:33:35 AM , Rating: 2

there is a different problem with avg8 though.
esp. if you have low bandwidth.

RE: Nice package, but...
By drebo on 7/6/2008 11:38:52 AM , Rating: 3
Most colleges now are requiring a specific antivirus to be loaded on students' computers, and are furnishing that antivirus to them free of charge. This immediately makes one whole facet, perhaps the only facet for which the "deal" made sense, completely worthless.

Office Home and Student, the retail version which allows you to install it on up to 3 computers, can be had for less than $160. Permenantly. Tell me again how good a deal this is.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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