Anyone For The Software Of The Month Club?

Direct mail-order sales forever changed the economics of the PC market. Now, a group of big computer companies including IBM, DEC, and Hewlett-Packard expects to do the same for software. The group has developed a standard way of distributing applications programs via compact disk, read-only memory (CD-ROM) and has signed such PC software producers as Microsoft and Software Publishing. By putting their programs and documentation on a single compact disk, they can do away with all the individual packages and the middlemen who now distribute them.

Digital Equipment Corp. is testing a monthly subscription program that distributes the disks with popular software titles such as Lotus 1-2-3. Corporate customers can transfer one or hundreds of copies of each program to PCs on their networks. A base records each transfer for billing purposes. When DEC's program becomes available on Jan. 1, the company expects to have an electronic billing service that can dial into a customer's computer, read which programs are installed, and then create a bill for those that were copied.

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