Microsoft gets more aggressive with free software

Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a new edition of its Office programs to enterprise customers on May 12, and for the first time it’s adding versions of Word and other programs that work in a web browser and will be free for consumers, reports the Associated Press. Office 2010 marks a milestone in Microsoft’s efforts to keep up with an industry shift from programs that are stored on PCs to free ones that can be accessed from any computer over the internet. Microsoft must be careful not to make the free apps so appealing as to undermine its lucrative desktop software business, which accounted for 29 percent of Microsoft’s revenue and 51 percent of its operating income in the most recent quarter. The free apps will have fewer features than the desktop versions. For businesses, access to the apps is included in their regular Office licensing fees, while the consumer apps will carry advertisements. Consumers can start buying Office 2010 or using the free Web Apps in June…

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