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Microsoft Offers Free Office 2007 Upgrades, Defers $1.5 Billion In Sales

Although Microsoft's announcement Tuesday that it will give away or discount Windows Vista buyers of Windows XP got the most attention, the company also unveiled a similar program for Office 2007, the next version of its productivity suite.

Customers who buy a PC in the Oct. 26, 2006 - March 15, 2007 time period with Office 2003 pre-installed on the machine will receive a coupon good for a free upgrade to a similar edition of Office 2007, Microsoft said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters and financial analysts. Users who purchase the full retail version of Office 2003 between Oct. 26, 2006 and Feb. 28, 2007 will also receive a coupon.

"Buyers of Office 2003 Standard Edition will get Office 2007 Basic," said Scott Di Valerio, vice president of Microsoft's OEM group. "2003 Small Business will get Small Business 2007, and 2003 Professional will get Professional 2007, all for zero dollars," Di Valerio said. Microsoft will charge shipping and handling to deliver Office 2007, however, as will OEMs participating in the exchange.

An analyst downplayed the upgrade offer.

"This doesn't seem like a big deal," said Paul DeGroot, analyst with Redmond, Wash.-based research firm Directions on Microsoft. "Microsoft doesn't want to stop Office sales, particularly to customers on a calendar year budget. If those customers have money in their budget, Microsoft doesn't want them to spend it on something else."

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