Free Office 2007 upgrades for expired agreements

Companies with Software Assurance contracts with Microsoft will be able to get free Office 2007 upgrades, even if their agreements expire in November, analyst firm Gartner has said.

Companies with Software Assurance contracts with Microsoft will be able to get free Office 2007 upgrades, even if their agreements expire in November, analyst firm Gartner has said.

It is not clear when Office 2007 will be launched, but Gartner said that as the product has been added to the company’s November Select and Open price lists, those not extending their Software Assurance contracts with the firm beyond November will still get it for free.

Gartner has been critical of the delays in launching Office 2007, the first major upgrade since Office 2003. It warned companies with software contracts expiring this year that they could miss out.

The delay has partly been down to the delay in launching Windows Vista, which is expected to be available for companies later this month, ahead of a general launch in January.

As the package now appears on the order lists, Gartner said companies could order it for free this month, even if they do not implement a full roll-out until after November.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver said, “There was no formal announcement, but Microsoft has added Office 2007 to the November Select and Open price lists. Although the software has not been released to manufacturing yet, adding the product to price lists has a couple of implications.”

He said organisations with Software Assurance agreements would have rights to the product, as long as their contract is in effect in November. “Organisations whose contracts expire at the end of November can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they will have rights to the software whether they renew their Software Assurance contract or not.”

For those that have to buy the software, Silver said, “Anyone who buys Office after 1 November should be ordering Office 2007. There is a 5% price increase that they will have to absorb, but most would rather have the new version than save the 5%.”

Although the software is not available yet, Silver said, “Realistically, most organisations will not do more than kick its tyres during the remainder of 2006 anyway. To many, the date it shows up on price lists is actually more important than having the actual code."

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