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Microsoft to try free, ad-based Office

updated 05:35 pm EDT, Fri October 9, 2009

Microsoft unveils free Office Starter 2010

Microsoft this week said that it would venture into free productivity apps with a Starter Edition of Office 2010 for Windows. The special version will be free to use but will have feature-reduced versions of Excel and Word as well as ads that run in a sidebar with the app window. It will only come with a new PC rather than come as a download, but it will have an option to download a more complete version such as Home & Student Edition.

Like regular Office 2010 and the free Office.com web app, Starter should be available in the first half of next year. It should replace Microsoft Works as the default option on many PCs.

Microsoft's decision to offer a free version is unusual and believed to be a means of thwarting competition against equally free alternatives such as OpenOffice, especially on netbooks where cost or rival operating systems like Ubuntu are more common. It indirectly helps draw customers away from Apple as it promises a lower-cost option than ordering the $79 iWork suite with a Mac; the latter's software has significantly features but is always a separate option.

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By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. ebeyer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2004

    +4

    "has significantly features"

    FYI

  1. jpellino

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +2

    Perfect!

    "The features you loathe, the ads you despise. Welcome to Office."

    Seriously - they'll give you a free taste of crippled ad-ware, in the hope you'll figure the paid one *must* be better.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999

    +2

    OO.org

    Or, people could just use the full-featured, un-crippled open source OpenOffice.org office suite, for free on all the platforms, with no ads whatsoever.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008

    +2

    Silverlight download link?

    What's with the Silverlight download link at the bottom of the article? Microsoft must be stuffing MacNN's pockets at every turn, since they have started to blow Microsoft's horn rather loudly in the recent few months.

    Silverlight has nothing to do with this article; never mind the fact that this article has nothing to do with the Mac.

    It's a real shame.

  1. Leftnotracks

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2009

    +2

    Microsoft = irrelevant

    How long until there are free hacks to disable these ridiculous ads? How much would you pay Microsoft to advertise to all those people too cheap to pay for productivity software AND so unsavvy they can't circumvent it? Most likely, the ad software will require the user to be online to use the office components. So forget about working on a plane. The best time to sell MSFT was two years ago; the second best time is now.

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