Microsoft is aggressively pushing its small and medium business clients to make the move to Windows 7 and Office 2007. It announced an expansion of an existing promotion allowing business customers to upgrade to Windows 7 and the Office 2007 productivity suite at half off the suggested retail pricing.
To be eligible, customers must be part of Microsoft's Open Value Subscription (OVS) program and currently running one of the listed prior versions of those products. The original program--which expires June 30, 2010--included customers migrating from Windows Vista and Office 2003. Microsoft has now expanded the scope of the promotion to include customers upgrading from Windows XP and Office XP as well.
When it comes to operating systems and productivity suites for businesses, Microsoft's biggest competitor is itself. Alternative operating systems and office productivity applications exist, but pose little threat to Microsoft's dominance. However, tight budgets and a comfort level with the existing platform and applications can lead customers to complacency and apathy. Bottom line: if it ain't broke, why fix it?
On the Windows side of that equation, the answer is that it is, in fact, broken. Companies that have already made the switch to Windows Vista have less compelling incentives to upgrade, but the vast majority of customers still rely on Windows XP. The advantages offered by Windows 7 just in the areas of security, remote support and connectivity, and simplicity of networking justify the upgrade by themselves.
As for Office 2007, there are a couple of reasons business customers should consider taking advantage of Microsoft's generous offer. First, in addition to saving half off the suggested retail price of Office 2007, customers will also receive the associated Software Assurance benefits which include the ability to upgrade to Office 2010 for free when it is released later this year.
Second, customers that take advantage of this offer quickly--like this week--can still get Word 2007 with the XML-associated features Microsoft recently lost its court battle with i4i over. As of January 11, 2010, Microsoft can no longer sell Microsoft Word with the patented technology, so a modified version lacking the functionality will be sold. However, customers that jump on this deal and make the purchase prior to January 11, 2010 can still get the "complete" Word 2007.
The actual savings may vary, and in many cases won't truly be 50 percent. The reason is that business customers already have volume licensing agreements with volume discount pricing. The promotional offer is for 50 percent off suggested retail, but a company that is already used to getting 20 percent off as a volume discount will only get an additional 30 percent off--not 50 percent off of the discounted price they normally pay.
Many businesses that held off from upgrading to Windows Vista and have clung to Windows XP are already exploring the switch to Windows 7. There could be issues with existing computer systems forcing customers to refresh hardware as well in some cases, but the deep discount on the operating system itself should provide some additional incentive for those customers to act before the end of June.