Staples wants to make Windows 8 'worry free' for small businesses

Staples is building on Microsoft's Windows Upgrade Offer to win more small businesses over to Windows 8.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Staples introduced on June 2 the "Staples Worry-Free PC Promise," designed to help users, especially small businesses, ease into Windows 8 once it is available.

The new plan, which builds on Microsoft's latest Windows Upgrade Offer for those buying new Windows PCs starting June 2. Microsoft's upgrade plan -- priced at $14.99 and available in 131 markets -- allows those buying Windows 7 PCs before Windows 8 is available to upgrade to Windows 8 Professional for that price.

Staples' version of the offer includes the upgrade -- the $14.99 cost of which Staples is covering via a $15 prepaid Visa card -- plus Windows 8-focused online training tools (downloadable after one purchases Windows 8 Professional) and free Staples phone support through the end of January 2013. To qualify, users must buy a new Windows 7 PC from Staples by November 17, 2012.

Staples' take on the Windows Upgrade offer is interesting because Microsoft is positioning the program as aimed primarily at consumers. From what I've heard, the back-to-school market is in the Softies' sights with the program, given that Windows 8 PCs aren't likely to be available until later in the fall, even though the Windows 8 operating system may RTM as early as July, according to tipsters.

But Staples is targeting small businesses, not consumers, with the "Worry-Free PC Promise."

Citing its own Staples Small Business Index as the source, Staples officials said 64 percent of small business owners perform their own information technology (IT) and/or network maintenance.  Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed are using company-owned tablets. And 70 percent of those "aware of Windows 8 already have upgrade plans in place," the officials added.

Microsoft officials have said they expect to defer between $450 million and $550 million of revenue related to the Offer, which will result in a reduction in Q4 FY 2013 revenue. Microsoft plans to continue to defer revenues related to Windows 7 sales during the offer period, which runs through January 31, 2013.

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