For people who are too wary of commitment to shell out upwards of $375 for Microsoft Office Professional or $100 or more on the Home and Student edition, Microsoft is introducing a subscription version. For $70 a year, you’ll be able to rent Microsoft Equipt, a package that combines Office with Microsoft’s Live OneCare security package, with free upgrades when new versions arrive and access to the already free Live Workspace and other online products. The Equipt package can be installed on up to three PCs at a time. Whether this represents a good deal depends on the nature of your needs for Office and the worth to you of OneCare, but it does lower the entry barrier for holdouts.
The curious part of the move is Microsoft’s choice of a retail channel — initially, at least, Equipt will be available only through the nearly 700 Circuit City stores. Microsoft believes that the concept of Equipt represents a “complicated value proposition,” and that the staff of Circuit City has the ability, according to Office group product manager Bryson Gordon, to engage customers in a “kind of a high-touch scenario. Equipt is better sold than bought.” Circuit City undoubtedly appreciated the kind words, especially as its stock dropped to a 17-year low after Blockbuster came to its senses and dropped its $1.35 billion takeover offer.