Dell Now Selling Microsoft Software Downloads


In an agreement unveiled Thursday, Microsoft is letting Dell sell popular offerings like Word, Excel and Outlook through its Dell Download Store, which opened in January.

Unsurprisingly, Dell will sell Microsoft products at prices that have been slashed to the bone. Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 is listed at $400.99, well below its MSRP of $449.95. Office Professional 2007, which has an MSRP of $499.95, sells for $448.99.

Microsoft says the deal gives customers more software purchasing options and could eventually be extended to other retail outlets. Dell's stance is that the Download Store not only gives customers better pricing and availability, but is also a more environmentally friendly way of distributing software because it obviates the need for packaging material.

Both of these explanations make sense, but the real benefit Microsoft gets from this is being able to ensure that the software that's being sold is legitimate. Microsoft hasn't been able to do this in the past with packaged software, and over the past few years has been hunting down and suing resellers in the U.S. and abroad for selling illegal software.

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That's also why solution providers aren't expecting Microsoft to afford them the same opportunity. "Microsoft is concerned about piracy, and opening up direct software sales to the channel would create a large burden of proof in terms of ensuring the software that's sold is legitimate," said Michael Cocanower, president of Phoenix-based Microsoft solution provider ITSynergy.

Microsoft last November started selling some of its products to U.S. customers through an online storefront for the first time in its history. The Microsoft Store lets customers buy and download software and also get direct shipments, and Microsoft says this helps customers save on shipping costs and frees them from the burden of keeping track of physical media.