In its quest to push more Office 2003 migrations, Microsoft is offering customers who make the switch up to $20,000 in partner services.
The promotion is outlined on this Microsoft Web site.
For each license of Office Professional 2003 purchased, the customer gets up to $100 in partner service subsidies. Ten licenses bought through Open License would entitle the customer to $1,000 in services. The payout, which tops out at $20,000, flows to the partner designated by the customer. Purchases must be made by May 31, 2005 and services redeemed by July 31 of this year, Microsoft said. Office Professional includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook and Publisher.
Microsoft is working hard to spur upgrades to Office 2003, which has been widely available for 16 months now. The company has also that the next major Office release, dubbed Office 12, will be out within the traditional 36-month uprgrade cycle for that product.
Anything Microsoft can do to spur actual Office 2003 implementation in the meantime could ease its EA worries, observers said.
Microsoft disclosed the Office 2003 promotion to partners during a Web cast on Thursday and sent mail to select partners, a spokeswoman said.
Large customers and Microsoft partners alike say the company remains worried about relatively slow uptick in a enterprise agreement (EA) renewals for the past year. Many customers balked at re-upping the volume pacts--typically lasting three years--because they see no compelling new features. Repeated Microsoft product delays also have them questioning whether they will get their money's worth over the period of the deal.
One former Microsoft exec conceded the issue. It is a "challenge" to get these EAs renewed, he said.
"Customers use the open source hammer - either as a bluff or for real -to pound Microsoft on price and Microsoft istrying to figure out how to add value so they get renewed. Tough to
do when you have no upgrades in the next couple years... that's why they have been rethinking tying everything to Longhorn and trying to streamline Longhorn so they can get it out the door," he said. (See related story.)