Office 2000 to include registration requirement

Some versions of Office 2000 will be equipped with a new Registration Wizard that will shut down the desktop applications suite if the user has not registered it with Microsoft after 50 uses, a company official has announced.

The Registration Wizard will be included in versions of Office 2000 sold in Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.

According to Office Product Manager John Duncan, the goal is to combat software piracy.

"We really want to get this right, so hopefully we'll be making this a successful effort to combat piracy while not getting in the way of making Office 2000 easy to use for customers," Duncan said.

Office 2000 -- which Microsoft expects to ship in March or April -- will offer users five different registration options: the Internet, e-mail, fax, postal mail or telephone. If it has not been registered by the 51st boot, those options will be presented to the user again; the difference will be that Office 2000 will not be accessible.

The Registration Wizard will not require any information beyond the user's country of residence and will not scan hard drives, Duncan said. When the user submits the 15-character installation ID, the registration centre will send back a confirmation number that allows them to use Office 2000, Duncan said.

If successful in the targeted markets, the Registration Wizard -- which already has been used in Brazil as well as in beta versions of Office 2000 -- likely will see more widespread use in retail versions of Office 2000, Duncan said. Use in other Microsoft products also is a possibility, he said.

Duncan disputed one beta tester's comments that Microsoft had originally planned to make the Registration Wizard a standard feature in Office 2000, saying the company wanted to gauge the wizard's success before rolling it out in all retail versions of the suite.

"If they've already done these trials (in Brazil) and put in the beta, what more testing is there to be done?" said the beta tester, who requested anonymity.

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