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.