Online retailer Amazon.com has stolen Microsoft's thunder by posting pricing and a release date for the forthcoming Office 2003 software on its UK website.
Microsoft has been tightlipped on pricing and a release date, but is preparing an announcement that could come as early as this week, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Now Amazon appears to have beaten Microsoft to it.
According to the listings on Amazon.co.uk, Office 2003 Professional Edition will cost £429.99, the Small Business Edition £384.99 and the Standard Edition £349.99. Upgrades cost £269.99, £234.99 and £199.99, respectively. The products will be available on October 24, according to the site.
"These products are available to pre-order on Amazon.co.uk at the prices stated. The release date is still an estimate at this stage," a spokeswoman for Amazon.co.uk in Slough, England, said this week.
Amazon's pricing indicates a price increase for Office; the online retailer sells Office XP Professional Edition for £397.99 and Standard Edition for £333.99.
Microsoft denies Office pricing will increase.
"We are aware of the Amazon posting. Pricing is not going up, pricing is unchanged," a Microsoft spokeswoman says. "A full price list will be available when we announce RTM [release to manufacturing]. We don't have a date yet for that."
Microsoft earlier this year reduced retail pricing for Office XP. In the US, the estimated price for Office XP Professional went from $US599 to $US499, and for Office XP Standard the price was cut from $US479 to $US399. The spokeswoman could not say if Office 2003 pricing would match the reduced Office XP prices or the previous higher prices.
Amazon's UK pricing is in line with the launch price for Office XP in 2001, says Joe Wilcox, a Washington, DC-based Jupiter Research senior analyst.
"The Amazon UK pricing for Office 2003 is consistent with Microsoft's UK list pricing for Office XP at launch, I see the best gauge for assessing Office 2003 pricing as the comparison to Office XP rather than working out the US dollars exchange rate," he says.
Sales tax is also a pricing factor. In Europe sales taxes are typically higher than in the US and are included in the price. In the US, sales tax is excluded in pricing. The Amazon.co.uk pricing includes 17.5% value added tax.
Amazon also lists pricing for InfoPath and OneNote, two new members of the Office family that are not part of the Office 2003 retail edition suites. The OneNote note-taking tool is listed at £169.99 while the InfoPath XML (Extensible Markup Language) data gathering application is priced at £179.99.
The retail edition of Microsoft Office 2003 Standard Edition includes the 2003 editions of Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Buyers of the Small Business Edition also get Publisher and Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager. The Professional Edition adds Access and support for customer-defined XML (Extensible Markup Language) schemas and information rights management.