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February 6, 1989

MICROSOFT TURNS UP HEAT, WINDS DOWN SCREWS ON LOTUS DEVELOPMENT IN SPREADSHEET WAR

By CBR Staff Writer

All the companies engaged in the spreadsheet war would like to kick market leader Lotus Development Corp as hard as they can while it remains down, but few are in such a strong position to make the kicks tell as Microsoft Corp. The MS-DOS version of the Excel spreadsheet, originally developed for Apple Computer’s Macintosh, still can’t claim even 10% of the US market, but most research houses agree that it is the one is gaining market share the fastest, and there is a growing body of users that won’t use any other spreadsheet. And to turn the screw even harder on the wounded Cambridge, Massachusetts company Microsoft will offer free evaluation copies of Excel for Windows and nationwide Excel seminars in an effort to keep up the momentum and stop a Lotus 1 2-3 promotion in its tracks. And according to Newsbytes, the spreadsheet war will also see the Redmond, Washington company double its sales force and marketing group devoted to Microsoft Excel. To address any remaining barriers to change, Microsoft will also offer a price promotion and additional incentives for resellers and distributors. Microsoft Excel is into double digit market share in the high end of the market, with an estimated 12% of the market for spreadsheets on 80286 and 80386 machines. At the beginning of the month, Microsoft started sending out a demo version of Excel which is copyable and has all the product features, but has the size of the worksheet restricted to 16 rows by 64 columns. And current Lotus 1-2-3 users who switch to Excel for Windows will be get a $75 rebate or a free copy of Windows/286 or Windows/386. The final incentive is Microsoft’s guarantee, which states that anyone unhappy with the product can receive a full refund until January 31, 1990 – which should be plenty of time for users to compare it with 1-2-3 release 3, if Lotus is able to meet its latest shipment date for that product the second quarter.

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