Microsoft is joining the free brigade. First offering a free computer security suite in the form of Security Essentials, now it plans to sell Office 2010 for free. Just before I was about to do happy cartwheels I read the proverbial small print about how exactly is Office 2010 free.
Starter Office 2010
- Office 2010 Starter will be pre-installed with new computers exclusively. That means you cannot get freeware version and you have to most probably buy a new PC. However that might be just a initial tactic.
- It will support advertisements and that idea is not so innovative but quite a time tested way to keep things free.
- Microsoft’s official product development blog mentions that Office 2010 Starter will also have reduced functionality. It does say you can view, edit and save files but leaves out exactly what reduced functionality will mean.
- The Office 2010 Starter will only have Word and Excel. So that means no PowerPoint and no One Note.
One reason Microsoft is offering this free is to get new PC users hooked onto Office right from the time they buy a new computer. Hence the focus on it being pre-installed on new PCs. The rise of Google Docs without Google really marketing it aggressively means that the idea of creating and storing documents online for free is something that people are demanding.
Mostly Microsoft has been a champion of paid software and not free software, but on the other hand US and Europe has fined Microsoft record amounts because Microsoft did exactly that by giving people free Internet Explorer along with Windows in the 90s.