Dell selling downloadable Microsoft software

Dell becomes first non-Microsoft vendor to sell downloadable Microsoft software. Microsoft Office to join other companies' products at Dell Download store.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney

Update at 2:00pm PDT: Comment about Microsoft selling own products at retail price has been added.

You no longer have to drive to your local Staples or Best Buy to grab the latest copy of Microsoft Office.

Dell has become the first non-Microsoft company allowed to sell downloadable Microsoft products at its Dell Download Store. The agreement, announced Thursday, gives Dell the right to sell Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Expression Web and similar Microsoft programs directly to online customers.

"With everyday savings plus on-demand access, the Dell Download Store addresses our customers' two main concerns: price and immediacy," said Geoff Surkamer, general manager, Dell Global Digital Distribution. "In addition, downloading is a more environmentally friendly way to purchase and distribute software because there's no need for packaging material."

A search for Microsoft Office Professional 2007 found Dell offering the software for $448, while Staples and Best Buy were selling it for full retail at $499. Microsoft also sells its own products online at full retail price.

Opened in January, the Dell Download store grabs around 10,000 visitors each week, said Dell. The store also offers a variety of programs from other manufacturers such as McAfee and Intuit.

Dell has been on the go lately, exploring diverse new markets to bump up its bottom line. The company recently said it plans to offer free, open-source software to small and midsize businesses. Dell also may be eyeing a takeover of another high-tech firm to expand its sales reach.