Microsoft has quashed talk that its incoming Surface Pro tablet will include Office, to a mixed response from partners, which are unsure if the suite would enhance the product's appeal or eat into their margins if they were to get their hands on the tablet.
It is still unknown whether the business version of the tablet, which is set for US release on 9 February, will ever become available to the channel, despite enthusiasm from resellers about the prospect.
Rumours which have been circulating online over the past few days were crushed by the vendor this week. The official Surface Twitter account posted: "Microsoft Office does not come included with Surface Windows 8 Pro, but is available separately. Have a nice day!"
Microsoft reseller Bechtle's software manager Richard Gibbons said that including the full Office application would affect partners' margins.
"Maybe [the Surface Pro] will include a trial version or a short subscription of Office 365 or something, but certainly not a full copy as that would severely eat into Office licensing revenue for [Microsoft] and their partners," he added.
However, Paul Dadge, managing director of PC Paramedics, claimed that if Office were included in the Surface Pro offering, it could give the tablet an edge over current Apple offerings.
He said: "There is definitely a need for the Office suite [on the Surface Pro]. The solution offered by the iPad at the moment falls short of the experience you would expect from Office; it would make good commercial sense.
"The Surface Pro would be more attractive if [Office were] included; bundles are always more attractive... If people have to pay extra to load [Office] on, it is not much of a hook."
Microsoft's decision to include Office Home and Student on its RT version of the Surface but not on the Pro version, which is set to be more expensive, has not gone down well with some consumers.
Twitter user kDunnyO said: "Ouch. You'd think since it costs significantly more than an RT, it'd still have the same software. May need to rethink my purchase."
Tweeter Scolvey said: "Surface RT, aimed at consumers, comes with Office; Surface Pro, aimed at business, does not. D'oh."
Microsoft's Surface RT tablet includes a preview version of Home and Student licensed Office suite, with the full version available free as an update later on, but Office for the soon-to-launch Surface Pro must be bought separately.
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