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A free, ad-supported version of Microsoft Office?
Office 14 in 2010
bill




msg:3863951
 1:27 am on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft let slip that there may be a free, ad supported version of Office 14.

Microsoft Office: An Advertising Platform [pcworld.com]

We may see an ad-supported version of Microsoft Office after all. Yesterday, at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft Business Division president Stephen Elop said Microsoft would release an ad-supported version of Microsoft Office 14 -- Office 14 is expected to hit stores in 2010. Elop said the purpose behind releasing a free version of Microsoft Office with ads displayed alongside the workspace was to draw "pirate customers into the revenue stream." "We want to draw them into the Windows family," Elop said, according to Silicon Valley Insider. "And maybe there's an up sell opportunity later."

The idea of an ad-supported version of Microsoft Office is nothing new, and is one concept that has been considered alongside Albany -- the code name for a subscription-based model of Microsoft Office. What Elsop didn't mention was what an ad-supported version of Office would look like, but it's safe to suspect it would be a stripped-down version of the complete software suite.


 

httpwebwitch




msg:3864210
 1:06 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

"pirate customers". That's a good one!

And I assume these ads will be contextual, based on content that I'm Office-ing? It'll be interesting to be one of those advertisers... Can I bid on the "C4" cell of a Excel spreadsheet? heh

frontpage




msg:3864226
 1:33 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Our corporations last purchase of Office 2007 will be the last time we buy MS. Office 2007 is just bloatware and actually more difficult to use than our Office 2003 and Office 1997.

We have been steadily shifting to OpenOffice and enjoying the myriad of extensions for it.

maximillianos




msg:3864230
 1:50 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

We now run with OpenOffice as well. We enjoy it. Free and simple.

coopster




msg:3864237
 2:03 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, there are alternative office suite software packages available but let's keep this discussion focused on the MS offering. It's free, it's ad-supported, and ultimately the goal is to generate revenue. And by the looks of it through two possible streams. First, advertising. Second, up sell opportunities.

I'm really struggling with the advertising concept. SO many questions, but the first is delivery.

Office 14 is expected to hit stores in 2010

So, I develop an ad and send it over to Microsoft and pay them. My ad gets rolled into the software and it gets packaged and put on a shelf in a store somewhere? A Microsoft store [webmasterworld.com]? How do I know I've reached my target market?

PCInk




msg:3864242
 2:08 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I imagine it means their online store. I also imagine that the adverts displayed will come from the MSN adcentre, which means to watch any campaigns you have in there for spikes in your costs.

coopster




msg:3864245
 2:11 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

That would make more sense. Other questions floating in my head were in regards to stale ads, particularly if the "purchaser" was using the machine offline or blocking MS Office software from internet access.

vincevincevince




msg:3864274
 2:49 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Stepping back from past positions and vested interests, this is clearly the future for Microsoft Office and I am glad they have realised it. With ever-improving free competition - which are now more usable than their own product - going free and monetising the home and small business market is the only option which doesn't involve them dropping out of the market.

maximillianos




msg:3864407
 5:17 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, there are alternative office suite software packages available but let's keep this discussion focused on the MS offering. It's free, it's ad-supported, and ultimately the goal is to generate revenue.

Our point in mentioning alternatives is that they are about 5 years late with this product as free version have already caught up and are taking hold... I for one would not switch back to a MS ad-supported product 2 years from now (or later) when it finally comes out...

It is also worth mentioning that Google already has ad-supported office software that is also available via the web.

So it is very relevant. I applaud them for the decision. But as always, Microsoft is a day late to the party.

travelin cat




msg:3864422
 5:29 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is MS jumping the shark?

Has their business model eroded so much that it has come to this?

mack




msg:3864459
 6:06 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't see this as MS arriving late, I see it more as Microsoft waiting until the right time. They will no doubt make more money selling the product, than presenting ads on it. I imaging MS have been waiting for the right metrics in the market share before offering the ad supported version.

Not to go off topic, but I see this as a way of clawing back users who have moved to other free office suites simple because they have been priced out. Making something has to be better than making nothing. The upsell opportunity will also be a key. If MS can get these users back to the MS office way of thinking they may well upgrade. Microsoft have offered free versions of a lot of their software tools for quite some time (express versions) with some functionality removed. This may be the way Microsoft aims to upsell.

Ad sales will be very interesting. how will they target the ads. Will it be related to what you're doing or will it reflect something else. Microsoft have got some great ad targeting technology. for example how offten have you been talking to someone in live messenger and notice the small text ad at the bottom it very much on target to the conversation. It will be interesting to read the privacy policy Microsoft bundles with the ad supported version of office.

Mack.

Lord Majestic




msg:3864462
 6:09 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Has their business model eroded so much that it has come to this?

Their main issue is that they can't come up with good enough improvements to justify upgrades - frankly it is amazing they managed last 10 years.

frontpage




msg:3864721
 11:41 pm on Mar 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

The BS part about Office 2007 is that Office 2003 or Office 1997 can't open Office 2007 documents. You have to upgrade in order to do so.

The open source OpenOffice can open Office 2007 and even .pdf files.

Why would I want a 'freeware' version of Office with ads and tracking cookies when I can use a better product that is constantly developed, upgraded, and has free productivity extensions --- and has no spyware?

koan




msg:3864775
 12:51 am on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

When MS do something, it's usually because they are being forced financially. I'm sure this is more a reaction to Google Docs and openOffice than "pirates", which have always been there. If it wasn't for free competition, they would probably still employ anti-hacking and legal methods to combat piracy.

bill




msg:3864804
 1:28 am on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I for one would not switch back to a MS ad-supported product 2 years from now (or later) when it finally comes out...

That's a pretty bold statement considering there's nothing out even in beta to test or reference.

The gap may be closing with free alternatives, but MS Office is still far ahead of any other offering out there. Also, if you're doing work with a major corporation there's no way I'd use anything but MS Office for compatibility. It's fine to use free stuff for the SOHO or small office, but when you're playing with the big boys you have to use the grownup tools. ;)

The BS part about Office 2007 is that Office 2003 or Office 1997 can't open Office 2007 documents. You have to upgrade in order to do so.

Wrong.
Microsoft has always provided free converter packs for users of earlier versions of Office. Office 2007 [microsoft.com] is no different.

I'm sure this is more a reaction to Google Docs and openOffice than "pirates"

Partially I think you have a point there. MS is late to the cloud computing field. I don't think the free aspect is as much of a issue.

frontpage




msg:3864823
 2:39 am on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

Wrong.
Microsoft has always provided free converter packs for users of earlier versions of Office. Office 2007 is no different.

You are wrong and you missed the point.

1) Previous Office versions are not compatible with Office 2007 and require you to download additional software.

OpenOffice works right out of the box and is compatible with 2007 documents.

Why would MS make it more difficult for users in compatibility between their product versions? Money.

2) Even when you download the converter pack for previous versions of Office, most of the time you can open the document but not manipulate the data.
What good is that?

But... OpenOffice allows you to do so, Microsoft's own expensive product does not. Why?

For a chart on what items MS intentionally inhibited previous versions of Office from manipulating, see this:

Although you can open Office Word 2007 files in previous versions of Word, you may not be able to change some items that were created by using the new or enhanced features in Office Word 2007.

[office.microsoft.com...]

Hugene




msg:3864841
 4:00 am on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can not believe that WW has dedicated a front page thread on this retarded idea. Ads in an office app will simply never ever fly. We are already swamped with ads online and it is becoming a nuisance; no way will I use a desktop ad that serves me with ads.

We used to call those Malware.

And I still do.

bill




msg:3865031
 1:33 pm on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

1) Previous Office versions are not compatible with Office 2007 and require you to download additional software.

Well, yes, MS Office software released prior to Office 2007 does require a download for a compatibility patch. You got me there. It's called an update in most cases.

OpenOffice works right out of the box and is compatible with 2007 documents.

You haven't applied an update to OpenOffice since 2006? Come on! Be realistic. They put an update in there that made the product compatible with Office 2007...That doesn't make open source better than MS. It's what every software development project does. They update as they go along and make themselves compatible with older versions when necessary.

2) Even when you download the converter pack for previous versions of Office, most of the time you can open the document but not manipulate the data.
What good is that?

Perhaps if you gave us some specific examples of data incompatibility that you've had we could help. I've worked with global corporate installations of Office since it came out, and I know a little about incompatibility problems among the different versions. Generally the MS provided upgrades are sufficient. I can manipulate Office 2007 data with Office 2003, XP and 2000 in most cases with the given converters.

Ads in an office app will simply never ever fly.

Really?
You work for a big company (hint:large corporations tend to use Microsoft products on the Enterprise level) and your job entails working with a PC. A lot of people's work uses Office software. Those people will like the idea of being able to train on the same level software at home.

Ever used Gmail at work? Yeah, that's got ads on it.

In a corporate environment you're absolutely right, ads won't cut it, but in reality a corporation would not be using this version of Office.

This version of Office is letting MS pull in the non-legitimate users along with those who can't afford a full blown copy of Office.

tangor




msg:3865049
 2:23 pm on Mar 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think it's a grand idea. Too many folks these days can't afford the full blown, or even the student editions... They grab a pirated version... and if that pirated version has ads (which can't be defeated) then there's SOME revenue coming from the stolen product. If it is offered free (and legal) I suspect more people would rather go that way than chance having MS update slam their system at a later time.

As for older versions of office not working with 2007... not true. MS offers converters that (so far) have been effective.

CWebguy




msg:3866897
 3:27 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I guess if it's free, I can't complain.

shaadi




msg:3867014
 8:54 am on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

why would a pirate customers switch to a toned down, ad supported software, when he is already enjoying the software for free?

hal12b




msg:3867216
 3:21 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

Microsoft is like the olsmobile your father used to drive.

Office 2007 = a training nightmare for any corporations trying to "reteach" employees how to use and find common features in past versions of Office. OpenOffice has a closer resemblance to past versions of MS Office.
Windows Vista = A flop, hardware hog, and aesthetically a ripoff of Linux.

Bad decision, after bad decision....

Within the next couple of years more and more people and businesses will jump ship as they are now. You will see the rise of Linux and MAC eventually overtake Microsoft. It's not a matter of "if". It's a matter of "when".

Hester




msg:3867235
 3:51 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think an ad-based Office is a great idea. I never go for pirate software but simply can't afford to buy the latest version of Office.

You will see the rise of Linux and MAC eventually overtake Microsoft

Judging by the constant problems we have at work getting Macs to function alongside Windows I can't see it happening for a good few decades yet.

Emphasis mine:

Although you can open Office Word 2007 files in previous versions of Word, you may not be able to change some items that were created by using the new or enhanced features in Office Word 2007.

Come on guys. How do you expect previous software written without these new features to work with them? Each new version of Office adds new stuff. Are MS supposed to rewrite earlier versions to work with the new ideas? It's like trying to make a VHS machine play DVDs.

One new feature was the XML format for files, eg: .docx - to open such files in older Office programs all you have to do is download a patch. But don't expect all the benefits of the new format to be there in the older versions of Office!

mil2k




msg:3867364
 6:18 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

why would a pirate customers switch to a toned down, ad supported software, when he is already enjoying the software for free?

Stick and carrot approach. If you are not aware, Microsoft is being very aggressive in going after pirated copies of Windows/ Office etc.

Come 2010, they can give these pirates an easier option.

MadeWillis




msg:3867371
 6:27 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

I didn't see anyone mention it, but maybe I missed it. Where will the ads come from? Adcenter? They better add a way to opt out of that because as httpwebwitch said I don't want to be sponsoring cells c1:c10. How will I be able to determine the relevancy?

Hester




msg:3873133
 11:34 am on Mar 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

I found a great new set of tools for formatting images in Word 2007 today. You can now add shadows which look instantly professional (if you set the blur to 30%) and there's even a reflection effect like iTunes' Cover Flow. I then went to save the document in Office 2003 format and it converted the image and shadow into a flat murky image. In other words it lost the shadow effect (which was no longer editable) and the quality was worse. This is just one example of how new features in Office 2007 cannot be downgraded to Office 2003, which didn't have them. (Each new version adds many more new features, which you may find so useful you wish they'd been there before.) So it also makes sense to upgrade.

I know Excel gets better and better all the time. You can even search fo cells with formatting in them, such as red text. As for the ribbon bar, you soon get used to it. Anything is better than the mess of menus they had before. Of course people don't like change so they try it and want to go back to the old version straight away. My advice is to stick with it and enjoy all the new features while you do.

nealrodriguez




msg:3874273
 2:26 pm on Mar 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

i may see it viable if ms were to publish ads for professional templates for ppt presentations, word docs and excel spreadsheets. or services that screen and edit your resumes, business plans, or ppt pitches that may require tweaking.

however, i think it may annoy some people who have bought copies of office and have to put with ads. they may want to incorporate an option to operate office ad-free after validation.

bill




msg:3875606
 12:09 am on Mar 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

however, i think it may annoy some people who have bought copies of office and have to put with ads. they may want to incorporate an option to operate office ad-free after validation.

I think you missed the point. The ad supported version would be free.

kaled




msg:3875951
 3:31 pm on Mar 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Within one month of release, hacks and workarounds will be published to strip out any advertising. What happens after that is hard to say.

Clearly, Opera couldn't make any real money from this model and that was with a product that required an internet connection to function. With an office product (that should be able to operate without an internet connection) an advert-supported version sounds nonsensical.

Microsoft would do better simply producing free minimalist versions of its Office apps without any adverts. That said, I doubt this would improve their balance sheets either.

Kaled.

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