Microsoft Equipt offers consumers Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, giving them the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for their personal and school projects; Windows Live OneCare, the all-in-one security and PC management service; Windows Live tools, such as Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Photo Gallery so they can connect and share with people they care about most; and Office Live Workspace, a new service from Microsoft that makes it easy to save documents to a dedicated online Workspace and share them with friends and classmates. Anytime a new version of Office or Windows Live OneCare is released, Microsoft Equipt customers will get the version upgrades as part of their subscriptions.
Microsoft Equipt is $69.99 (U.S.) estimated retail price for a one-year renewable subscription. Each subscription will be good for three home PCs, making Microsoft Equipt ideal for families and individuals with one or several computers.
Microsoft Equipt will be sold in nearly 700 Circuit City stores in the U.S. starting mid-July 2008.
Ignoring the "Live" freebies, a visit to Amazon reveals that you can buy a OneCare subscription (3 licenses) for $21.95 per year leaving $48.04 annually to amortize the $111.49 that Amazon charges for Home and Student 2007 (3 licenses). That works out to a payoff of 2.3 years for buying the software upfront instead of getting an Equipt subscription and you will be able to use it forever. Of course, you won’t get the version upgrades with an upfront purchase, but how many consumers really care about that and if new versions only come every 4-5 years it’s a wash. On the face of it, Equipt isn’t a real consumer savings standout.
I would also observe that the marketing plan apparently isn’t complete since Circuit City could hardly be the exclusive retail source. It will also be interesting see if Microsoft can get Equipt preloaded by OEM’s on new PCs some of which currently ship with Home and Student trial offers. All it really takes is money to get that done.
All in all, while there may be a pony for Microsoft in a consumer software subscription service, Equipt as announced hardly seems to be it.
Microsoft today gave fair warning of an additional offering in its myriad volume purchasing plans called Select Plus which will be available in Fall 2008:
Select Plus is a natural add-on to customers’ existing Enterprise Agreements and an alternative to the traditional Select License to consolidate transactional purchasing across multiple agreements. Customers can easily purchase and manage additional licensed products and services on a per-project basis as well as instantly qualify for the next discounted price level through increased purchase volume. Because Select Plus agreements never expire for transactional purchases, customers can experience more flexibility while eliminating the need to renegotiate and renew their contracts.
There are more details as well as comparisons to existing plans at the Volume Licensing section of the Microsoft Web site. Not unexpectedly, there are pluses and minuses to Select Plus which Eric Lai assesses at Computerworld. If your enterprise is large enough to consider Select Plus, you undoubtedly have a purchasing department for whom the tradeoffs will be grist for their mill.
Microsoft is never shy about reaching for the wallet to buy technology and the associated developer talent to embellish their offerings and this week’s shopping cart holds Rapt Inc,, an advertising yield software developer, and Kidaro, a provider of desktop virtualization management software.
At Microsoft’s internal “MGX” global sales meeting last week in Orlando, the troops were given an early word on Windows 7 (formerly codenamed Vienna) including an availability date of 2010. Despite Vista’s checkered history which would seem to preclude excessive reliance on such a prediction from Microsoft management, the whole point is apparently to assure customers and partners of the regularity of product delivery: