MS thrusts Office XP into business hands

Microsoft's stunt of giving away Office XP to 500 of the country's chief executives and IT bosses seems calculated to ensure that the application suite quickly finds its way into business hands.

Microsoft’s stunt of giving away Office XP to 500 of the country’s chief executives and IT bosses seems calculated to ensure that the application suite quickly finds its way into business hands.

The launch last Thursday was marked by the giveaway spree by Microsoft New Zealand staff.

Microsoft doesn’t have great expectations of its initial corporate appeal. Office marketing manager Bridget Reeves says she doesn’t think boxes of Office XP will “run out the door, because it’s a significant purchase for most people”.

“Visibly it has a lot more sizzle for the end user with features such as smart tags and task panes,” Reeves says, adding that consumer sales are likely to be where the early sales action is. The new features are designed to make Office functions more accessible and easier to use. It also offers speech recognition tools that let users dictate text and edit documents using speech.

Reeves is guessing correctly about the product’s appeal, according to large users spoken to by Computerworld.

Television New Zealand says it’s still to make the switch from Office 97 to Office 2000, let alone to Office XP. Technology head Neil Andrew says TVNZ is in the middle of upgrading to Windows 2000 and as part of that rollout will eventually move to Office 2000.

Progressive Enterprises is not even close to upgrading to Office XP, says IT operations and infrastructure manager Shelley Heffernan. While the company has standardised on Office, it’s “trying to get our strategic direction straight” before committing to upgrades.

Winemaker Montana Wines is showing greater interest. IT manager Elena Wong says she is evaluating XP as a possible replacement for Lotus SmartSuite.

Thirty-day trials of the software are available on CD from www.microsoft.co.nz for $19.95. An Office XP upgrade costs $689; Office XP standard full version is $1379; Office XP Professional, featuring Word 2002, Excel 2002, PowerPoint 2002, Outlook 2002 and Access 2002, costs $969 to upgrade and $1659 to buy outright, or $439 for a monthly subscription (prices include GST).

Along with Australia and Brazil, New Zealand is the only country where end users can get a 12-month subscription for the product.

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