'

Microsoft's great XPectations

Microsoft began shipping Office XP, probably the most important product the software giant will ship this year, but persuading businesses to upgrade may be difficult.

Microsoft began shipping Office XP, probably the most important product the software giant will ship this year, but persuading businesses to upgrade may be difficult.

SYDNEY (ZDNet Australia)--At the software maker's Office XP US launch, executives from Amazon.com, Ford Motor and other big businesses explained why their companies are moving to Office XP.

However, despite those endorsements, Microsoft may find Office XP to be a tough sell.

"Many companies just aren't that interested in Office XP," one analyst said.

To help drive Office XP sales, retailers and PC makers are offering a myriad of extras.

Online retailer Egghead.com is encouraging Office XP sales by offering 128MB of free memory with any version of the productivity suite and a free 40GB hard drive or Adobe Acrobat 5 with two specific versions of Office XP.

Catalogue and online retailer Zones also offers a free copy of Acrobat, and PC Mall offers 128MB of free memory with select versions.

Those aren't the only extras included in Office XP.

Clippy, the cute but much maligned animated paper clip introduced with Office 97, was given his walking papers by Microsoft recently as part of a US$30 million marketing campaign promoting Office XP.

But Clippy's demise is more myth than reality.

Anyone installing Office XP will find Clippy and seven other animated assistants available with the new version.