Free Microsoft Works May Take On Google

    July 31, 2007

Time and time again, Google has claimed that its various products and services are not intended to compete with Microsoft Office.  That’s doubtful, but in any event, Microsoft seems prepared to for the clash – a vice president has indicated that the next version of Microsoft Works will be free and ad-supported.

Note that it’s only a vice president – after ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley was given this information by Satya Nadella, others in the Redmond-based company refused to confirm it.  Still, this exchange wasn’t just some sort of misunderstanding.

“Nadella added that Works will be just ‘the first of the ad-funded software we are going to do,’” according to Foley.  “When I asked for other examples of products might decide to make free and ad-funded, he mentioned Office Accounting Express – a product which is currently available as both a free download and as a component of certain Office Live paid subscriptions.  He also said software downloads/shareware was another category ripe with products that could be free and ad-funded.”

Nadella’s either a practical joker or someone with slightly loose lips.  Various people, including Barry Schwartz and Brad Linder, seem inclined to believe the latter.  Linder goes on to write, “Releasing Works, a stripped down version of Office hardly seems like the way to compete,” but I suppose Microsoft (and Google) will have to cross that marketing problem when they come to it.

And when will that occur?  There’s no telling.  Nadella said the ad-supported version of Works is already out, which – since it’s nowhere to be found – only adds to the confusion.