Microsoft will ship Windows Vista in five editions. Likewise, Office 2007 will be made available in 8 different flavors each containing a different permutation and combination of Office programs.
For instance, Office 2007 Standard will have Microsoft Outlook while the Home & Student Edition of Office 2007 will have OneNote 2007 instead of Outlook - rest of the programs remain same in the two editions.
As the number of choices increase, so does the confusion in the minds of the prospective customer. For instance, if the client wants to create a simple webpage, what Microsoft product should he buy - Microsoft Word, OneNote, Windows Live Writer or the Expression Web Suite ?
Autodesk, developers of the popular AutoCAD program, face a situation quite similar to Microsoft. They develop an array of some incredible but very expensive software programs like Revit Building, Autodesk VIZ, Architectural Desktop - all these programs ultimately do the same thing - they help architects design homes & office buildings.
Now to help customers who are in a dilemma on choosing between these "similar" products, Autodesk created an amazing online salesperson called Ms Diana - she will ask you a set of simple questions and then recommend the right Autodesk product for you.
They have done it in style. It's the most engaging software decision helper that you may have ever seen - the audio is nothing less than talking to a live salesperson and she gives fairly impressive recommendations.
As Microsoft adds more products to their portfolio and the choices cause more confusion, their prospective customers may also need a similar Ms. Diana to help them decide the right software for their needs.
Infact Microsoft could do it much better than what Autodesk has done - they just have to train Ms. Dewey. To add to their advantage, a lot of Microsoft users already know Dewey (for whatever reasons).