Microsoft Responds To Partners' Office 2007 Gripes

Several Microsoft partners told CMP Channel earlier this week they're frustrated that Microsoft doesn't allow them to activate Office 2007 trials which come pre-installed on new PCs using volume licensing keys from the vendor's Open, Select or Enterprise programs.

Marlowe Dayley, senior product manager for Microsoft Office, says there's a simple reason for that: Both the pre-installed and retail Office trial versions aren't volume licensing bits, and as such, can't be activated with volume licensing keys of any sort.

Microsoft doesn't plan to make it possible for partners to activate Office trials with volume licensing keys. "We know that volume license keys are the biggest source of software piracy, because while product activation keys can be used once or twice, volume license keys can be used many times," Dayley said.

Dayley also responded to partner complaints that the Office 2007 trial interferes with group policy deployments of Office, and takes as long as 30 minutes to uninstall.

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"You can choose to have the volume license CD overwrite the trial version of Office, and in this way, you can manage it from a group policy perspective once you have the volume licensing bits," Dayley said.

"All you have to do to get rid of the Office 2007 trial is go to add/remove programs and delete it. I tested it and it took between 5 and 6 minutes," added Dayley.

However, Susan Bradley, a Microsoft Small Business Specialist partner in Fresno, Calif., said she'd be wary about installing a volume licensing version of Office on top of a trial version. "With Vista's and Office's new Genuine check stuff, leaving trial bits behind is dangerous," she said.

"If you have a trial version of something that is not replaced by the proper version, I guarantee you that you will get your system into a state where one part is not seen a genuine, you will be unable to get Office Genuine offers, and you'll be flagged as a pirate," Bradley said.

Dayley also said there are differences in functionality between the volume license version and retail OEM versions of Office 2007. "Volume licensing is a separate code base, which means different capabilities in addition to the different licensing restrictions," he said.

For example, volume licensing bits can be integrated into Office SharePoint Server and take advantage of DRM (Digital Rights Management), while OEM or Retail bits can't, according to Dayley.