Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Office 2010 Upgrade Deal Expiring in July

Microsoft has quietly set the clock ticking on a discount offer to organizations considering upgrading to Office 2010.

Through June, Microsoft is offering a 50 percent discount to "open value" volume licensing customers upgrading to Office 2010. Microsoft calls this discount program the "up-to-date" (UTD) offer. Whether an organization can take advantage of it or not depends on the version of Office that's currently licensed.

For those open value licensees of Office XP, the half-off offer has already passed. No discount is available.

Here's how Microsoft figures it. Under the UTD program, Microsoft offers a so-called "N-2" upgrade, meaning that it will be 50 percent off for users two product generations away from the current volume licensing release.

Under Microsoft's formulation, after April 27, Office XP became the N-3 release, putting it out of range of the offer. April 27 was the date Microsoft said it released Office 2010 to volume licensing customers with Software Assurance.

Currently, Office 2003 represents the N-2 release. The N-1 release is Office 2007. So there's still time for open value licensees of Office 2003 and Office 2007 to get half off when moving to Office 2010 -- that is, through June 2010.

After June 2010, Microsoft will go back to using its "N-1" method of calculating the UTD open value licensing discount offer. So after June, only Office 2007 open value licensees will be able to get the discount.

These details about the UTD offer are clarified by Eric Ligman, global partner experience lead for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, in a blog post here.

Upgrading to Office 2010 will be a complex decision for organizations in other respects. For example, they may want to take advantage of Office Web Apps, which are versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote that can run in a Web browser. Currently, Office Web Apps can be downloaded and tested as beta versions, although they will be part of the Office 2010 release.

The beta tests of Office Web Apps require having volume licensing agreements in place for Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 or Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. They aren't for casual testers.

Businesses will have to pay to use Office Web Apps in one form or another. They can host them on their own servers and pay licensing costs for SharePoint 2010 or they can subscribe to Microsoft's online services. For consumers, it's expected that Microsoft will release free, ad-supported versions of Office Web Apps.

A report on the Office 2010 roadmap by consulting company Directions on Microsoft describes some of the nuances to consider. Prepare to have a beefed-up Microsoft stack in place to take advantage of Office 2010's newer capabilities, such as Office Web Apps and PowerPivot, the report warns.

"For example, the Office Web Apps and coauthoring features for group work on Office documents require SharePoint 2010, which in turn requires 64-bit Windows Server 2008 (or later), 64-bit SQL Server 2005 (or later), and a recent browser version on the client," the report explains. "Similarly, the PowerPivot feature could substantially simplify analysis of large data sets by Excel users and enable them to share their work with browser users, but its full capabilities require Excel 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, and their prerequisites."

On May 12, Microsoft will have a launch event announcing the availability of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to business users. Consumers seeking Office 2010 will have to wait until the June general availability date, yet to be announced, to get it. Microsoft released Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to IT professionals (TechNet and MSDN subscribers) late last month.

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