Microsoft offers a number of ways to obtain the licensing or “right to use” their software. Three of the most common license types are FPP, OEM and Open Licenses.

FPP – Full Package Product; the boxed, shrink wrapped product available from retail outlets. This is a single copy of a license such as a consumer might purchase for their home PC.

OEM – System Builder software; designed for preinstall on a new PC. This is a common way of purchasing software because the licensing is relatively inexpensive, however it does have its limitations. The license is valid only for the life of the machine onto which it is originally installed. Once that machine dies, the license dies with it.

Open/Volume Licensing – This type of licensing is an Agreement between you, the client and Microsoft. It entitles you to use the software, to exercise downgrade rights, to access previous versions of the software and to transfer the software to a new machine, if need be. If Open Licensing is purchased with Software Assurance it also entitles you to upgrades of new software versions and provides other benefits such as training and phone support. There is a minimum entry level of 5 licenses to start an open license agreement and a number of different Open Programs. Your specific needs and the size of your business will determine the right Open Licensing program for you.

So, what’s happening with Microsoft Office?

Office 2007 has been available for some time now and the OEM version of Office 2003 has been discontinued. The only way to access Office 2003 licensing is to purchase 2007 Open Licenses and exercise the downgrade rights by installing Office 2003 media.

It is human nature to resist change. However at some point, most businesses will need to execute a change over, either PC by PC or in a roll out to the new version.

Office 2007 will work in a mixed environment; our own staff members are running different versions to test the theory. Office 2007 has a different file format to 2003, however because documents can be saved in ‘compatibility mode’ we have not experienced issues with sending and receiving documents via email or opening and saving across the network. Files that were created in 2003 can be opened, edited and saved using Office 2007.

The user interface is new and will look and feel a little different. The functionalities are all still there with some new ones to boot (like being able to save documents as a PDF) and in most instances they are more logically set out than in Office 2003 – that in fact was the whole point of the revision!

The best way to adjust to the new user interface is to visit some of the online resources. A really great starting point is the 2007 Microsoft Office System Courses; these provide an overview of the new layout and some great tips for navigation.

Another tip is to remember to use the Help button. Use the Help button when you’ve “lost” a feature; Help will tell you where to find it in the new version. You can type your question right into the search bar and it will return a list of results that point you in the right direction.

If you wish to purchase Office 2003, we can still arrange this for you, but if you don’t have an existing Open Licensing Agreement you’ll need to establish one. More and more, customers will find that moving to the new 2007 platform is not as daunting as first thought. If you would like to discuss this in further detail, feel free to contact us.