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Retail chain CompUSA will sell Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 Nov. 30 alongside resellers and OEM partners and ahead of the general public release, planned for January 30, the software maker announced Nov. 13.

Windows Vista Business and Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 will be available at select CompuUSA stores as part of Microsoft Open Value or Microsoft Open Business licensing options—five copies or more at a 10 percent discount or more—part of an effort to make volume buying more obtainable for SMB (small and midsize business) and Home Office customers, more than 50 percent of whom turn to retail outlets for software, said Cynthia Bates, Microsoft’s general manager of the small-business division for the U.S. Small and Mid-market Solutions & Partners Group.

Currently Small Business customers can only purchase copies of the two from VARs and with new PC purchases, but more than 50 percent of SMBs turn to retail outlets for software, according to Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. “It was a miss in the marketplace,” Bates told eWEEK’s Channel Insider.

Customers will walk out of CompUSA stores with a Microsoft Small Business Value Program Kit explaining the value of Microsoft’s SMB portfolio and Small Business Specialist set of VARs offering integration and services as well as a proof of purchase. A CompUSA sales associate will then work with the customer to explain how the software can be downloaded with activation of the license.

Microsoft expects to extend volume licensing availability of Vista and Office 2007 to more retail stores through 2007, Bates said.

Open Business offers customers a volume discount and the opportunity to add Software Assurance—free upgrades as new versions of the software are released.

Open Value is the most cost-effective way for small businesses to purchase Microsoft software, allowing them to spread payments annually, and includes Software Assurance.

Microsoft expects to capitalize on the demand among small businesses for software from retail outlets and send more of it up the value chain to the SBS partners, and further SMB products such as Small Business Server 2003, Bates said.

The details of that measure are not finalized, but the manufacturer is working to leverage the “demand at retail outlets, to the capacity of the Small Business Specialist community to provide services,” Bates said.

CompUSA offers some services itself, but relies on local firms for most. Its competitor, Best Buy, directly offers a more comprehensive set of services with its Geek Squad, services team.