Microsoft appears to have been busy thinking up ways to encourage UK users to upgrade from its Office 2000 desktop productivity suite to the forthcoming Office XP release.
Users buying Office 2000 between now and 30 June will be able to obtain upgrades to Office XP free of charge, while the software giant will make a 'free' 30-day demo available to new customers. They will be charged $9.95 for postage and packaging, however.
Reports also suggest that Microsoft may provide potential customers with trial versions of its entire Office [XP] suite for the first time rather than offer them individual packages such as the Excel spreadsheet.
A national publication is expected to carry a covermount with the CD in May, and users may likewise be able to download the trial suite from the Microsoft UK website.
Gartner analysts have rated the product only as "nice to have" for Office 2000 users, but say it is "very attractive" to those currently running Office 97 on their PCs.
Office XP will be available in some retail stores and pre-installed on Dell machines from 31 May and be rolled out elsewhere throughout June. Although Microsoft has already unveiled US pricing and release dates, UK variations will be announced tomorrow.
The standard version of Office XP, which includes Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint, will cost $479 for new users, and $239 for those upgrading from either Office 97 or Office 2000.
The standard and Access editions of Office XP Pro cost $329 and $579 respectively, while Office XP Pro Special Edition, which includes Pro, FrontPage, Sharepoint, Publisher and Intellimouse Explorer, is available in some countries at a promotional price of $479.
Office XP Developer, which incorporates Pro, FrontPage, Sharepoint and other utilities, costs $549.
Office Small Business and Office XP Professional, including Publisher packages, will also be pre-installed on some new computers, but the PC vendors will set pricing themselves.
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