PC Retail revealed yesterday that increasing quantities of Microsoft Office 2007 are being purchased directly from Microsoft as a result of the convertable trial version of Office pre-installed into many PCs. PC Retail was concerned that this may be having a negative impact on sales through the channel.
Today the UK product manager for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Darren Strange, spoke to PC Retail to explain Microsoft's thinking on the matter. "We have to prioritise customer experience, but we always try hard to create opportunities for the channel," he said.
Strange believes that, although the nature of the market demands that Microsoft makes the Office experience available directly to consumers, this is still primarily a channel opportunity. "Microsoft offers customers a convertible trial of the 2007 Microsoft Office system to ensure they receive a simple, seamless experience if they do decide to transition from the trial to the full version of the product," he said.
"The price of the conversion matches the recommended retail price of the software available through the retail channel. Microsoft’s partners set their own pricing, so in many cases customers will find the packaged product costs less at retail outlets."
The thinking appears to be that, properly managed, a customer will re-engage with the company they bought their PC from in order to purchase the full version of Office and maybe some other stuff too. However, there is some onus on the part of the retailer/reseller to educate their customer at the time of purchase that a better deal is to be had through them than by going direct to Microsoft.
The scheme Microsoft has developed to involve the channel in this arrangement is called Office Ready PC, which involves a reseller opting to install the trial version of Office at the OEM stage. Microsoft has made a TV star of UK partner group manager Steve Haddock on this microsite, where he explains the whole Office Ready thing over video.