Feeling pain in the wallet to fork out hundreds of dollars to purchase genuine license for Microsoft Office 2007 productivity suite? Microsoft has finally introduced an annual subscription fee based Microsoft Office rental service called “Equipt”, formerly known as “Albany”. In fact, this is hardly surprising news as Microsoft works to increase its recurring residual revenue and entice consumers who would otherwise pass or pirate on Office productivity software.

The Equipt software bundle include Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 suite, which contains Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, as well as Windows Live OneCare network security suite, Windows Live Workspace, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Photo Gallery, plus some other applications and services. Equipt can be installed and valid on 3 PCs for home usage.

Equipt software bundle will start selling at nearly 700 Circuit City stores in United States of America (US) begging July 15, 2008, with a price tag of $69.99 for one year subscription period of legitimate usage on the Office and Live OneCare products. The Equipt bundle will be available at other retailers and on PCs sold by the OEMs such as Lenovo, HP and Dell in the future too. Originally, when purchased as full owner license, these products costs more than $200, with more bleeding when new version is introduced.

Subscription-based software product usage is increasingly popular pricing model for software industry, and has been used to charge many security programs, such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam utilities which receive regular updates. For example, security products from Symantec, McAfee, ESET, Kaspersky Labs, Avira, BitDefender, Trend Micro, Rising, ZoneAlarm and etc.

The biggest advantage for Equipt is user entitled to free upgrade to newer version of Office and Windows Live OneCare updates during the subscription period. For example, “Office 14”, replacement of Office 2007, is rumored to for a 2009 release. Customers who have purchased a full license standalone copy of Microsoft Office 2007 would have to pay full price in order to upgrade to Office 14, while Equipt users can get it for free. Small updates to the Equipt subscription version will be made automatically, similar to current regular Office updates, but consumers will have some control over the timing of major upgrades to new versions.

Still unwilling to pay for Microsoft Office? There are plenty of alternative, most famously OpenOffice, and some web-based alternative office suites such as Google Docs and Spreadsheet.

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