Continuing its mission of making it easy to activate its most popular products, Microsoft Corp. has added its latest suite of office applications, Office 2003, to the list of applications for which customers can buy license keys online. Using an online purchase form that pops up after installing Office 2003, customers can purchase license keys and receive printable electronic license certificates containing their license keys via e-mail in less than a minute.

This online license key system, hosted for Microsoft by License Technologies Group, Inc. (LTG), has helped the software publisher make it easier for customers to purchase additional license keys for boxed product that they need to install on multiple systems. Microsoft and License Technologies Group began the additional license key program with Plus! Digital Media Edition early last year.

The online license key system is also available for those who need to convert trial software to full use. When users open a trial version of an Office application, they’re reminded of when the trial will expire and have the opportunity to either purchase a license key or continue working with the application.

“We recognized that our customers needed an easy method for activating our software. We tested LTG’s system with Plus! DME in the U.S. and it performed beyond our expectations in terms of efficiency and customer satisfaction. We then engaged LTG for Windows XP. A survey of our XP customers showed an overall approval rating of more than 95 percent, and all of the respondents said they would like to see this program extended to other products. Our office suite was the next logical choice for this program,” said Aaron Bernstein, Microsoft’s Director of Strategic Alliances.

License Technologies Group, which provides Internet-based software license and channel management solutions for publishers, manages the entire license key process for Microsoft, including hosting the license keys, tracking purchases, clearing credit card transactions and distributing licenses certificates. LTG also distributes hard copy license certificates and customized product kits for publishers.

Bernstein says that by simplifying the process, trial users will convert to full usage more quickly when they see how easy it is. Customers can order trial CDs through Microsoft’s Web site or their reseller.

“Microsoft has a long history of finding strategic partners to fulfill certain functions that are not indigenous to its core mission. In this case, it needed a partner that already had specific systems in place to manage online license key transactions and distribute the keys and license certificates. This allows Microsoft’s call centers to handle more critical customer calls,” said Geoff Surkamer, vice president and managing director of License Technologies Group.