Microsoft alters its pricing and service plans

Microsoft Corp. has cut retail prices for its products and added services for license deals.

The company dropped the price of its Microsoft Office XP Standard and Professional editions by 15 percent, and standalone Word 2002, Excel 2002, PowerPoint 2002 and Access 2002 by 30 percent. Per-item savings will range from $80 to $110.

In September, the company's Software Assurance program will beef up training, support, deployment and management tools for agencies that buy in bulk.

A spokeswoman said the price cuts respond to strained federal budgets and have little to do with keeping Microsoft products ahead of Linux and open-source applications used by the government.

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