REDMOND, Wash, Sept. 12, 2007 – Microsoft today announced The Ultimate Steal, a limited-time promotion for college students starting today in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and starting Sept. 20 in Spain, Italy and France. PressPass spoke with Alan Yates, general manager of Microsoft’s World Wide Education division, to discuss how the company has responded to student feedback and provided an easy way for students to acquire Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007.
PressPass: The Ultimate Steal sounds like a great deal. What are the specifics?
Yates: We definitely think it’s a great deal. It gives students easier access to our premium productivity suite Office Ultimate 2007, which includes tools they’ll be able to put to good use in their studies such as Office Groove 2007 and Office OneNote 2007.
Beginning Sept. 12, Microsoft will launch a special Web-based promotion exclusively for students called The Ultimate Steal. Students who are actively enrolled at eligible educational institutions will be able to acquire Office Ultimate 2007 via the Web at the low student price of US$59.95. Calling this promotion "The Ultimate Steal" is spot on when you consider that this is a savings of over 90 percent of the retail price of Office Ultimate 2007. The retail price is what students might think they would have to pay, when much lower pricing such as this has been available to students for many years.
Outside of the US, a one-year subscription license will also be offered for £12.95/€ 18.00/C$22.00 in addition to the perpetual license. The Ultimate Steal promotion will expire on April 30, 2008.
PressPass: What made you decide that now was the right time for this promotion, and how will students hear about it?
Yates: Actually, students have been telling us for some time that they want more flexible ways to acquire Microsoft Office at student pricing levels. Students have also said that they regard Microsoft Office as a key tool in their academic studies, so making it easier for them to acquire Office Ultimate 2007 has been a priority for us.
In terms of the timing of The Ultimate Steal promotion, I think what really kicked it off was the proliferation of buying behavior on the Web of large file size assets such as movies, large music files, and other software tools that require a significant download. Generally speaking, good broadband coverage exists in the countries that we're launching the promotion in so we think it makes a huge amount of sense for us to offer Office via download as well for students.
Microsoft has offered similar discounts to students for many, many years, and we think the addition of a Web-based student promotion is a great addition to our overall offerings to students. With The Ultimate Steal, we really want to get the word out about the exclusivity of this offer and the ease of acquisition for students. The Ultimate Steal Web site provides a one-stop shop for students where they can purchase a genuine Office product key, download the bits, and they’re ready to go.
To help get the word out about this exclusive deal, we’re handing out t-shirts and posters on campuses, holding seminars to tell students about this new version of Office and running a blogging contest where students can tell us how they use Office Ultimate 2007 to excel in their academic studies. The best responses will win prizes such as a spring break getaway, gift certificates and Xbox prize packages.
PressPass: Who is actually eligible for this promotion, how do they participate?
Yates: The majority of higher education students in the countries where the promotion is offered should be eligible. To be considered eligible, a student must be actively enrolled at an educational institution and hold a valid e-mail address at that institution. If a student’s e-mail address can’t be verified, they can provide additional information to us so we can work on adding them in the near future.
PressPass: Doesn’t the low Ultimate Steal price create a new conflict with your partners?
Yates: Not at all. Actually, The Ultimate Steal promotion is just an extension of existing Microsoft programs that allow students to acquire Office at similar, and in some cases, even lower price points. A student could acquire Office today under several academic programs without using The Ultimate Steal.
We're also doing some pretty rigorous validation to verify the eligibility of people who want to take part in The Ultimate Steal, so there won’t be an effect on any general consumer population that would go and buy Office at a retail environment, as part of a new computer purchase or through a small business channel. The addressable market for The Ultimate Steal is the same student segment that we reach with our academic programs today. Overall, we are committed to working with partners and we are already investigating ways to work with partners on future student promotions like this.
PressPass: The Ultimate Steal program was piloted in Australia. How did students respond to the program?
Yates: Australian students responded overwhelmingly positively to our pilot promotion. We had set some fairly aggressive goals for our pilot and they were all exceeded based on the great response from students.
What we found with our pilot was that the vast majority of students who took advantage of the offer were very open in admitting that purchasing Office was a low or non-priority for them prior to the offer and only when they saw that it was easily available did they decide, “Okay, I will go ahead and purchase Office.”
PressPass: What are some of the reasons why a student should purchase a genuine version of Office rather than use, say, a pirated version?
Yates: Using pirated software may seem like a great deal initially, but it’s best to know and understand the true risk associated with using pirated software, as well as the benefit of running genuine software. In a recent study, Microsoft found that over 43 percent of pirated software had spyware, malware or other added binaries that could attack the operating system. Running genuine software protects customers from these dangers and provides additional benefits, including support and regular updates to ensure system security. Pirated software commonly causes negative user experiences, so we recommend using genuine software, which will provide peace of mind and a good experience.