Future lands contract for new Mircrosoft title

Future is believed to have beaten off stiff competition from rival publishers VNU and Paragon to win the licence to publish the official Windows XP magazine for computer giant Microsoft.

The multimillion pound contract will see the launch of a new monthly Microsoft Windows XP: The Official Magazine. It is backed by a £750,000 promotional budget and is said to be Future’s biggest launch in the computing sector for three years.

The contract is based on the success of three one-shots produced by Future on a similar theme. Retailers are hoping the launch will boost sales in the computing sector which reported a drop of 12 per cent in the latest ABCs.

The 132-page title will feature games, reviews and the latest software and hardware and is due to go on sale next week with a print run of 72,000.

Dave Bradley, former associate editor of PC Format, is editor and Nick Merritt, who worked on the computing one-shot specials, is managing editor. Publisher Dave Taylor said there were plans to expand the team further once the launch was up and running.

The first issue will be priced at £5.99 with two covermounted CDs or £6.49 with a DVD.

Future announced a turnover of £142.9m in its financial results this week, compared to £151.5m in 2000. The figures showed operating profit of £10m and losses from discontinued activities of £15.7m. Staff levels have been cut by 51 per cent overall, including 89 per cent working online, in a bid to reduce debts of £78m resulting from over expansion and market difficulties over the past year.

Future chief executive Greg Ingham said the company would continue to keep "a tight rein" on costs.

"Our success for 2002 overall will be determined primarily by our ability to capitalise on the continued growth of the games market," he said.

"In the past, Future has shown much stronger trading in the second half of the year and this trend is expected to apply for 2002. Overall, Future now has a smaller business, better systems, less debt, a lower cost base- and none of the wholesale restructuring and attendant issues which preoccupied it last year. All this leads us to believe that there will be a good performance in 2002."

By Ruth Addicott

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