Apple and Microsoft are offering North American customers purchasing new Macs a $300 reduction on the price of Microsoft Office v.X.

Between October 1, 2002, and January 7, 2003, customers in North America who buy any new Mac will be eligible to purchase Microsoft Office v.X for $199.99. Its regular price is $499.

Similar deals will be offered to customers in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore beginning in November. Customers in Japan have been offered a price cut since August. That offer is due to expire at the end of the year.

Customers will have to purchase Office at the same time they buy a Mac in order to receive the discount, the companies said.

Microsoft would not comment on how many copies of Office Version X for Mac have been sold since the product was released late last year.

"In the short term things are getting better, and we're pleased where things are going," said Tim McDonough, marketing director for Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU). He added: "We take a really long-term view on the business."

The MacBU has steadily been releasing software updates for Apple's new operating system, including the first set of security and feature updates for Office Version X for Mac, version 3.5 of MSN Messenger for Mac, and software that allows users of Palm OS handhelds to synchronize information with Entourage.

The group has also announced plans to release a version of Microsoft's MSN Internet access software for Mac OS X systems in early 2003.

The MacBU has already begun work on future versions of Office and Internet Explorer for Mac, McDonough said.