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Microsoft to offer free software to SMB’s in Louisiana

Microsoft is working with state officials in Louisiana to offer Windows and Office software free for a year to small businesses still feeling the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Microsoft on Monday unveiled a new program, called the Software License Relief Program, in conjunction with the 2007 Hope & Recovery Summit, which is commemorating the second anniversary of both storms. Microsoft is working with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) to offer the program, which will launch next month and gives eligible small businesses access to software from Microsoft, including Windows and Office, free of charge for a year.

The program doesn’t come without a catch, however — there are eligibility requirements for businesses, one of which is to purchase a three-year Microsoft Open Value License that spreads out software license payments over three years. Open Value bundles core software offerings from Microsoft into one license. After purchasing the software, businesses can bring the first year’s invoice to any LSBDC, and Microsoft will pay the bill. The businesses themselves are responsible for the last two years of the license.

Microsoft estimates that for a typical small business of 50 employees, with 25 PCs licensing Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system suite of programs, that year of licensing at no charge could save the organization as much as $12,050. The company traditionally does not disclose the specific cost for Open Value licenses because they vary by company.

To receive the program’s benefits, small businesses also must have been in business prior to the dates Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall — Aug. 29, 2005 or Sept. 24, 2005, respectively. Other requirements include having less than 200 employees; being based in one of the 19 federal disaster-designated Louisiana parishes; and having applied for small-business assistance through at least one federal or state government program, whether the application was approved or not.

Microsoft has donated millions of dollars to the recovery effort in the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated the region two years ago. In the first year after the storms hit, the company donated more than $11 million in cash and technology to organizations such as the American Red Cross; Governor’s Funds in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama; and America’s Second Harvest. The company also offered grants to establish or rebuild community technology centers destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Microsoft, Windows, Microsoft Office, Free Software, SMB, Louisiana

Source:? InfoWorld

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