Microsoft lifts licensing restrictions on Office 2010 contact-management feature

Ever since Microsoft launched Office 2010 this past summer, I've been hearing from small-business users who were dismayed with Microsoft's new licensing restrictions on its updated Business Contact Manager (BCM) component. Microsoft has heard the gripes, too, and on September 23, said they were addressing them.

Ever since Microsoft launched Office 2010 this past summer, I've been hearing from small-business users who were dismayed with Microsoft's new licensing restrictions on its updated Business Contact Manager (BCM) component.

On September 23, Microsoft officials acknowledged they'd heard the complaints, too, and had decided to make BCM downloadable for free for Office users who didn't want to have to become volume licensees in order to obtain their tried and true contact-management technology.

(Microsoft execs told me in early July that they were finalizing plans for making the BCM available to non-volume licensees.)

Justin Hutchinson, a Director on the Microsoft Office team, blogged about Microsoft's initial reasons for restricting BCM availability. He said:

"(W)e underestimated the importance of BCM to our small business customers who purchase Office through retail.  Worse yet, we left many of our customers, who didn’t want to buy through volume licensing, stranded with data locked in previous versions of Office.

"This was a mistake and today we’re announcing a program to make sure that millions of BCM customers, who don’t want to buy through volume licensing, aren’t stranded."

In order to be able to access the downloadable BCM, customers will need to have purchased one of the following:

  • Office Small Business Edition 2003 or Office Professional Edition 2003
  • Office Small Business 2007 or Office Professional 2007 or Office Ultimate 2007
  • A stand-alone edition of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 or 2007

And also will need to have purchased one of the following versions of Office 2010:

  • Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2010
  • A stand-alone edition of Microsoft Outlook 2010

"We apologize to our loyal customers who were adversely affected by this oversight," Hutchinson said.

Based on some of the feedback I've been getting from BCM customers, I'd say Microsoft reversed itself in the nick of time to head off defections to some of its competitors' CRM wares....

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