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Australian purchasers of the top version of Microsoft’s Office 2010 suite of business software, due in the market next month, will be asked to pay almost 60 percent more than US customers.Microsoft Australia yesterday revealed the Down Under pricing for Office 2010, which is due to go on sale to business users on May 12 and to the general public in June.

A major anomaly comes with the boxed copy of Office Professional 2010, which will sell for A$849 in Australia, compared with just US$499 -equivalent to A$537 at current exchange rates – in the USA

The US price, unlike the Australian, does not include sales tax. However, even if the equivalent of Australia’s GST was added to the US pricing, make it closer to A$600, it’s apparent Australian business users are being asked to pay a considerable premium.

A Microsoft Australia spokesperson said local pricing is based on “a number of market-specific factors including, but not limited to, our forecast of exchange rates, local taxes, duties, regulatory requirements and operational and support costs”.

Australian prices of the other two Office 2010 boxed versions are: Home & Student, A$209; Home & Business, $379. (The Home & Student box contains the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications; Home & Business adds Outlook e-mail).

The Professional version adds two more programs, Publisher and Access.

Home & Student sells in the US for the equivalent of A$160; Home & Business for the equivalent of A$299, making the Australian mark-ups for these products more like 25 percent.

Microsoft says this year it’s also introduced a new way for people to buy Office, dubbed the Product Key Card. This lets single users unlock Office software pre-loaded on to new PCs.

Australian Key Card prices are: Home & Student $209; Home & Business $269; Professional $449.

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