There are plenty of rumors swirling around about Lexmark — including one that it may opt to spin off its solutions and services businesses into a separate company like Xerox did two weeks ago.

Reuters reported last month that Lexmark is thinking of "divesting its hardware and software assets separately to revive interest in its sale process." And Lexmark itself announced in October that it had hired Goldman to help explore "strategic alternatives."

That all makes sense, too: Lexmark's hardware and software operations have different growth profiles.

But just when it seems the writing on the wall is clear, Lexmark announced the creation of a new partner program that will, in effect, pull hardware, solutions and services all together.

The new Connect Partner Program will enable resellers to access and use Lexmark’s entire portfolio, including hardware, supplies, managed print services and software solutions.

“By joining the new program, Lexmark’s channel partners can access in-depth knowledge of the market and technology leadership to provide their customers with informed recommendations on hardware, solutions and services,” the company noted in a statement.

The sales and marketing functions have also been revamped to cater for this new program.

There's more to consider: Two weeks ago, Lexmark started building on the Kofax acquisition. It's now offering automatic onboarding and automated document processes from capture to close.

There are several possibilities here.

The first is that Lexmark, though the new partner program, is just giving its businesses a lick of paint before selling the entire company.

Or — and this is the more interesting possibility — maybe it has decided to brave out the current storm that is disrupting the document and enterprise content management market.

Could it be that rather than looking at selling, it is looking to find itself a new place in that market by using acquisitions like Kofax or the earlier Perceptive buy that brought it into the ECM space in the first place? Does it plan to duke it out with its competitors using a tighter and more effective channel program?

This too could fall into the “strategic alternative” box that the CEO talked about.

After all, strategic alternatives include new ways of doing business and the new channel program could be part of that. Stay tuned.

Office 2016 Slowly Making It's Way ...

Microsoft has started to make Office 2016 applications available to Office 2016 and Office 365 subscribers that opted for the slower release cadence when the suite was released in September.

Back then, in response to those enterprises that didn’t feel a pressing need to start installing Office 2016, Microsoft offered deferred downloads. This week, it announced that Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Word, among others, are now available for download under the “Current Branch for Business" release track.

"Current Branch for Business" was the name for the track given to the “slow” download option, which caused confusion since it was first announced.

In response to that confusion, Microsoft has also relabeled this program the "Deferred Channel" while the faster “Current Branch” — also introduced in September as the label for those that opted for the faster track —  will know be known as the “Current Channel”.

In a blog post about the new arrangements Amesh Mansukhani, senior program manager for the Office team explained: “We believe the enhancements we have made since the launch of Office 2016 will help reduce the overall validation process, making it quicker to get these builds into your users’ hands. We are not done yet; we are continuing to invest more in our deployment tools in order to further assist IT admins and developers to validate Office against their environment and line-of-business applications.”

LibreOffice v5.1 Boosts Enterprise Appeal

The Document Foundation announced the release of v5.1 of LibreOffice for Windows, Linux and Mac.

While there are the usual updates and upgrades here, there are also a couple of killer-punch additions: a reorganized user interface and several improved features specifically targeted at enterprise deployments including interoperability with proprietary document formats and file management on remote servers.

LibreOffice now integrates with SharePoint, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Alfresco and WebDAV, among others.

Users will now be able to open files directly from these services without any additional software.

From a user perspective, this is a step forward. It means that workers will be able to open files in LibreOffice from any CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) compatible system and save the changes back into those systems. 

SIGNiX, Treeno Partner

Finally this week, Treeno Software, a document management vendor, announced a partnership with SIGNiX to provide an integrated independent e-signature solution.

The new integrated solution will allow users sign documents internally and externally and automatically save them into the secure, audited Treeno document repository.

The result is tamper-evident technology, identity authentication services, comprehensive digital audit trails and high level encryption, all key demands of regulated industries.