Microsoft appears to be taking lessons from Post and Kellogg's. When one of their breakfast cereals needs a sales boost, you can be sure to see both a "cents off" coupon in the mail (for mom) as well as a "free offer" sticker on the box (for the kiddies).While it's revving up to launch the next release of Microsoft Office in the fall, Redmond wants to keep sales chugging along for the current Office XP version so late last week it cut prices on the office automation line by an average of 15%.Savings of $80 to $110 depend on where the software is purchased as well as which "package" is bought (individual software titles, or bundles). Office 2000 users who might have simply waited for Office 2003 will now re-think, Microsoft hopes, and purchase upgrades to Office XP "on the cheap." In a year to 18 months Microsoft hopes users will be ready to upgrade again.Also last week, Gates and Co., said they would throw in free training, support, and software tools if customers buy the Software Assurance (a.k.a., a subscription) option for the current licensing program.Microsoft went through what has become an annual changing of its\u00a0operating system\u00a0and NOS licensing programs last fall. Predictably, customers howled that they'd have to pay more. But unlike previous years, the howling hasn't abated. Some analysts have claimed that fully 60% of Microsoft customers are paying more - lots more - under the terms of the current licensing programs. Enough people are dragging their feet on moving to the new licensing, in fact, that Microsoft has slapped the virtual equivalent of a "free offer" sticker on the licensing box.It's estimated that large enterprises could reap more than $10,000 in savings, under this "free offer." According to Network World's John Fontana, (https:\/\/www.nwfusion.com\/news\/2003\/0527microlicen.html) "Microsoft said it would not adjust the pricing on Software Assurance but instead would offer add-ons including free Web-based and\/or telephone support on servers as well as vouchers for free technical training courses that can cost as much as $1,500 a day."The biggest concession, though, could be the re-introduction of "home use" licenses. Under these terms, workers who have licensed copies of Microsoft products in the office could obtain second copies for use at home for only the cost of media, postage and handling (maybe $25). This was a very popular program 10 years ago when most people didn't have office-quality software at home. In today's market, though, frequently the home computer has more up-to-date software than the office computer so the actual benefit may be small.Still, any time Microsoft gives us something it's a cause to rejoice. True, we'd prefer a reduction in cost but this is a whole lot better than nothing.