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Win2k beta offer escapes notice of most MS subs

They don't know what it is, and they certainly don't know what you get after the beta finishes

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Microsoft subsidiaries worldwide seem to have been caught flat-footed by the appearance of the Corporate Preview Program (CPP) Win2k beta 3 special offer. For $59.95, US customers can get Win2k beta 3 (see earlier Story), but it's not entirely clear what they get once the beta is over, and most of the local outfits currently seem entirely ignorant that the programme even exists. Microsoft may not actually know where it intends to take the CPP right now. It has a training-led offer that gives you the whole trip from Win2k Server beta through to gold code for $125, the PC companies who're shipping beta 3 with their machines will include an upgrade coupon for gold code, and the full-scale corporate programme will also give customers gold code. That surely makes the wider CPP a little anomalous if MS is just going to take the $59.95 and then hit users for some more once the (presumably) 90-day beta period expires. But a reading of the CPP site shows that it doesn't actually make any commitment beyond the beta, and doesn't say anything about what happens once it finishes. Nor, as far as we can make out, has MS actually announced the CPP anywhere. What it has done in the past 24 hours is update the site, but it only seems to have added some more spin about the limited support you're going to get, and shrunk the size of the text. Read it now before it gets any smaller, folks. The site includes links to a clutch of Microsoft international sites, but most of them don't actually lead to a local equivalent yet. The UK link leads to the Technet registration page, and it may be that MS UK will be running the programme through Technet. France isn't on the list, Germany and Austria are live with a CPP, the Australian page doesn't exist, and the Canadian one is just the MS Canada home page. And so on -- were we in some kind of rush to get this programme going? A spokesman for MS UK last night didn't seem to have heard of the programme, confusing it with the beta announcements Jim Allchin made last week. He did, however, seem to be under the impression that paid-for beta code would result in a coupon for gold code, but although that may seem optimistic, MS UK's marketing people obviously haven't been briefed on the CPP yet, so once the official line is developed, it might be different. But it might be a trickier one to resolve than it at first seems. Microsoft has done widespread free betas before, and with a free beta you don't really need to give users anything afterwards. But a paid-for beta is different, particularly if you've got other, slightly more upmarket, beta programmes running where the customers do get gold code at the end. ®

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