Microsoft teams to offer Vista early to SMBs

Microsoft Corp. continues to expand ways customers can get access to Windows Vista as the OS’ official launch date approaches. The company said Monday it is teaming with CompUSA stores to offer early access to Windows Vista to U.S. small businesses.

Through the Microsoft Small Business Value Program, small businesses that want to purchase five or more licenses for Vista can purchase them through one of two licensing programs — Open Value or Open Business — beginning on Nov. 30 from CompUSA stores.

This is the day Vista will be available to Microsoft’s volume license customers, but before the product’s general availability in retail outlets, which will not occur until Jan. 30, 2007.

The Open Value and Open Business license programs are intended to allow smaller companies to acquire Microsoft software in a cost-effective way that can be managed online, according to Microsoft.

Typically, small businesses can purchase software through these programs either from Microsoft or a licensed reseller, but Microsoft is extending this access to CompUSA retail outlets. CompUSA has more than 229 stores in the U.S.

The company plans to allow more retailers to offer Vista through these volume-licensing programs throughout 2007, Microsoft said.

Open Value will spread payments for the software out over a year, while Open Business requires an upfront payment, according to Microsoft’s Web site. Open Value also includes a subscription to Microsoft Software Assurance (SA), the company’s software update program, while SA is an add-on option for Open Business customers.

Small business customers that purchase Vista at CompUSA through one of the programs will initially receive a Microsoft Small Business Value Program Kit and a proof of purchase. A CompUSA sales associate also will work with the customer to explain how to download Vista and activate the licenses, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is touting the long-delayed Vista as a major overhaul of its Windows client OS with many benefits for customers, and has high hopes that people will upgrade to the new OS as early as possible. However, there is evidence from both analysts and business customers that neither consumers nor businesses are in a hurry to purchase Vista.

More information about the program and how small businesses can purchase Vista can be found here and here.

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