Microsoft UK is beginning exploratory conversations with its four OEM specialist distributors to ascertain if they have an appetite to sell Office 2010.
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In a dictum from corporate HQ, Northamber, VIP, Enta Technologies and Micro P were informed the next generation app will not be available to them when it launches and will instead be sold under a Full Packaged Product (FPP) agreement.
OEM PCs will ship with an Office starter version containing Word and XL which can be upgraded through a Product Key Card - replacing the Medialess License Kit - that will be open to FPP distributors Bell Micro, C2000, Ingram and Westcoast.
However, Microsoft OEM director Gary Fowle told MicroScope the change is designed to make it easier for more end-customers to buy Office, "not reduce the number of OEM specialists".
"The decision about the new contracts has been made, Office upgrades will only be available under current FPP, we can't make exceptions to that but what is under review is how many OEM distributors want access to that product," he said.
Fowle said Microsoft UK has the power to "extend" the Office element of FPP to its four OEM specialists as well as the four FPP distributors.
The reaction to Office 2010 changes had been mixed with Northamber claiming it was not fussed while VIP and Enta voiced some disappointment.
Jon Atherton, group commercial vice president at Enta Technologies, said he had booked a meeting with Microsoft for next month and was very keen to discuss the future of Office. "It has been a healthy line for us," he said.