Microsoft is to offer Microsoft Exchange for rent over the Net the company announced Wednesday.
Microsoft has been trialling a rentable version of Microsoft Office since November. Exchange will be trialled by twenty partners, including Hewlett-Packard and BT. The services -- offered via ASPs (Application Service Providers) -- is set to revolutionise the software market, according to Microsoft.
"There will be many more of them [ASPs]. It is a very big opportunity. Renting software is the next big trend," said Jeremy Gittins, Microsoft's group marketing manager. Rentable software is a growing phenomenon. In September Sun offered its own version of Office -- dubbed StarOffice -- downloadable free over the Net. According to Sun CEO Scott McNealy, over a quarter of a million people downloaded the software within the first week.
Gittins denies that Microsoft has gone down the rentable path as a result of the popularity of StarOffice. "People would say this is a reaction to StarOffice but we have been looking into the ASP model for three years now," he said.
Initially Gittins predicts the rentable model will appeal to small to medium-sized businesses rather than large companies.