Update: Microsoft has now released an identical promotion for US residents, with terms and conditions linked to here. Original story follows...
Office 365 has been Microsoft’s attempt at cornering the cloud-based productivity suite industry, taking on opponents such as Google Apps. Despite the product's recent sales success (Office 365 Home Premium reached 1 million subscribers in under four months), the company is launching a new promotion to further bolster consumer excitement. Today, Microsoft announced that individuals who purchase annual subscriptions to Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 University will be granted a free 12-month Xbox Live Gold membership. To take advantage of this deal, the product must be activated prior to the September 28 deadline.
Office 365 first came onto the scene in June of 2011, targeting small businesses with features such as collaborative document writing and slideshow construction, and connecting colleagues located at either ends of the globe. Microsoft also benefits from the cloud-based model since software updates can be executed with ease, and ongoing subscription fees provide the company with a continuous revenue stream.
Interestingly, US residents are not eligible for the offer. The 38 country list includes: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
According to The Next Web, the reasoning behind the promotion is rather straight-forward. Microsoft is targeting the younger generation, especially those who are headed off to university in the fall. Although the stereotype of adolescent gamers often holds true, in reality, video games are now enjoyed by a diverse consumer base. The upcoming release of the Xbox One, and its ability to act as a set-top box, also demonstrates the console’s newfound reputation as a “family-oriented” device.
Despite Microsoft’s efforts, chances are slim that the promotion will have any noticeable impact on sales. It does, however, demonstrate their confidence in the Xbox brand as well as the future of cloud-based services.