As an incentive for businesses to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2003 when the product is released this fall, Microsoft will offer its volume-license customers a way to upgrade their Office XP Standard Edition applications to the versions in Office 2003 Professional Edition at no extra cost, the company said yesterday. The Office 2003 Step-Up License is available to any customers who chose a volume license through Software Assurance (SA) or Upgrade Advantage, the SA predecessor. The full volume-license version of Office 2003 Pro includes various applications--Microsoft Access 2003, InfoPath 2003, Publisher 2003, and Outlook with Business Contact Manager 2003--that won't be available to Step-Up customers. However, Office 2003 Standard users who want to upgrade to the full Office 2003 Pro suite can do so simply by paying the price difference, the company noted.
Microsoft says it made the Step-Up License available because of a decision late in product development to make certain XML features available only through Office 2003 Pro. "We announced the differentiation of the Office versions after \[many\] customers ... made the decision to go with the Standard Edition," said Dan Leach, lead product manager for Information Worker Product Management. "Those customers may want those new features in Office Professional."
Microsoft will offer the Step-Up License for 1 year, starting September 1. Office 2003 Standard includes Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. Customers who renew volume-licensed versions of Office before the end of March 2004 will receive perpetual rights to use the Office 2003 Pro versions of those applications without extra charge. For more information, visit the Microsoft licensing Web site.